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Epidemiology, 10 Credits

Swedish name: Epidemiologi

This syllabus is valid: 2018-08-20 and until further notice

Course code: 3FH038

Credit points: 10

Education level: Second cycle

Main Field of Study and progress level: Public Health: Second cycle, in-depth level of the course cannot be classified

Grading scale: Three-grade scale

Revised by: Programme council for the International Master Programme in Public Health (PRPH), 2016-05-18


Epidemiology is a scientific discipline that can function as valuable tool to reach deeper insight in for example patterns of disease and their causes in the population, and also for prioritizations and decisions about medical and social conditions. In this manner, epidemiology can also be seen as a methodological approach in the service of public health. The focus of the course is on understanding of basic concepts of epidemiology, and on methods within epidemiology.
The course begins with an overview of basic epidemiological theory and concepts, such as causality, bias and third variables. Methods and measures for calculation of frequencies of disease and measures of effect are brought up and applied in practical exercises, and epidemiological study designs are introduced and discussed. Thereafter, the fundamentals of epidemiological data analysis is presented as well as practiced in computer exercises using statistical software. In the end of the course various examples of epidemiology within research and public health practice are presented, and critical reading and academic writing of epidemiological papers are discussed. 

Expected learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding
After this course the student is expected to:

  • Explain, assess and discuss basic concept and theory within epidemiology, such as causality, bias, confounding and effect modification
  • Assess and discuss strengths and weaknesses with different epidemiological study designs and methods for data collection
  • Exemplify and describe applications of epidemiology in research and practice

Skills and Abilities
After this course the student is expected to:

  • Conduct independent calculations and interpretations of measures of disease frequency, effect, confounding and effect modification
  • Apply and interpret epidemiological data analysis to address research questions
  • Critically assess and synthesize epidemiological research
  • Communicate epidemiological results in academic writing

Judgement and approach
After this course the student is expected to:

  • Compare and evaluate epidemiological methods to approach problems within research and practice, and in this context identify and handle sources of bias and confounding
  • Demonstrate insight in ethical, philosophical and societal aspects of epidemiology, and in its possibilities and limitations as a scientific discipline

Required Knowledge

For non-programme students applying as single-course students, the requirements are 120 ECTS, of which a minimum of 30 ECTS are within one of the following: health sciences, environmental health or social sciences.

English proficiency equivalent to English B/6 from Swedish Upper secondary education. Basic entrance requirements for higher studies in Swedish language proficiency is also required if the course is taught in Swedish.

Form of instruction

The teaching is concentrated to four weeks during the course period. The teaching is conducted through lectures, seminars, computer exercises and group exercises. All teaching is done in English.

Examination modes

Students of the course are formally examined in two parts:

1) In the end of the course there is a written exam. The exam intend to evaluate fulfillment of the majority of the expected learning outcomes (for exception, see part 2 below).

2) In the end of the semester, the students completes a compulsory individual home assignment. This assignment aims to evaluate the students’ ability to apply the expected learning outcomes to an authentic example, and specifically to evaluate the “Critically assess and synthesize epidemiological research” and “Communicate epidemiological results in academic writing” ELOs.

The individual assignment is graded with G (Pass) or U (Fail), and the written exam with VG (Pass with distinction), G (Pass), U (Fail). The course is graded with, VG (Pass with distinction), G (Pass), U (Fail). To pass the course, the student needs the grade G (Pass) on both the individual assignment and the written exam. To receive VG (Pass with distinction) on the course, the student needs the grade G (Pass) on the individual assignment, as well as VG (Pass with distinction) on the written exam.

It is only permitted to complete a non- approved results to approved, completion of higher rating is not allowed. If the student wishes the hen right to conduct re-examination and thus have the opportunity to get higher grades than approved.

If there are special reasons, the examiner has the right to decide whether another form of examination can be used. Students who do not pass the regular examinations are offered further examination. Students who receive a passing grade may not take the test again. A student who has failed two tests for a course or a part of a class, are entitled to have another examiner appointed, unless there are specific reasons against it. Written request must be submitted to the director of studies.

Other regulations

Start-of-study respite
A respite for the start of studies may be granted under special circumstances. Examples of such circumstances are illness, military service, pregnancy, care of children or other nursing responsibilities etc.
A negative decision about start-of-study respite may be appealed to Överklagandenämnden för högskolan.

Course roll call
Attendance is compulsory for the course roll call. A student may be relieved from this obligation only through a decision by the course coordinator and only under special circumstances. Non-attendance without a valid reason may lead to the seat being given to another applicant. The course coordinator will make a decision about this.

Students have the right to examine whether previous education or equivalent knowledge and skills acquired can be credited for the corresponding course at Umeå University. Application is submitted to Studentcentrum/Examina. Details on crediting can be found at Umeå University's student web, www.student.umu.se , and the Higher Education Ordinance (Chapter 6) . A refusal of accreditation may be appealed against (Higher Education Ordinance Chapter 12) to the University Appeals Board. This applies to the whole or part of the application for accreditation is refused.


Valid from: 2018 week 34

Bhopal Raj S.
Concepts of epidemiology: integrating the ideas, theories, principles and methods of epidemiology [Elektronisk resurs]
Oxford : Oxford University Press : 2008 :

Basic epidemiology [electronic resource]
Bonita R., Beaglehole R., Kjellström Tord.
2nd ed. : Geneva : World Health Organization : c2006. : 1 online resource (xi, 213 p.) :
ISBN: 9789240681835 (electronic bk.)
Search the University Library catalogue

Introduction to Epidemiology, Second Edition [Elektronisk resurs]
Carneiro Ilona, Howard Natasha
McGraw-Hill : 2011 :