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Molecular Epidemiology, 7.5 Credits

Swedish name: Molekylär epidemiologi

This syllabus is valid: 2022-03-14 and until further notice

Course code: 3MD008

Credit points: 7.5

Education level: First cycle

Main Field of Study and progress level: Biomedical Sciences: First cycle, has at least 60 credits in first-cycle course/s as entry requirements

Grading scale: VG Pass with distinction, G Pass, U Fail

Responsible department: Oncology

Established by: Programme council for the Biomedicine Programmes, 2021-04-12


Molecular Epidemiological studies, and evaluation of these, are becoming increasingly important both in academia and industry. Molecular epidemiology is for example an important tool in the development of personalized medicine. With focus on different biological measurement approaches and epidemiological study designs, this course describes how molecular and epidemiological methods can be used to understand biological processes and infer disease mechanisms. The course also describes how molecular epidemiology can be used to identify new biomarkers and evaluate their clinical usefulness. 'Omics' technologies (i.e. genomics, epigenetics, proteomics, metabolomics) and statistical analytical approaches will be extensively covered
The course will highlight advantages and disadvantages with different epidemiological study designs ranging from cross-sectional, cohort, and case-control to family-based designs. Statistics on the course will cover basic measurements and approaches for hypothesis testing, such as t-test, multivariate regression, and risk prediction models.
The course will include mandatory computer labs and group discussions (e.g. regarding ethical considerations surrounding use of human samples and sensitive data form individual subjects) as well as a mandatory group project.

Expected learning outcomes

After completing this course, students are expected to show the ability to:
  • Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of different study designs and experimental methods used in molecular epidemiological studies.
  • Relate a study's statistical power to its feasibility and result interpretation.
  • Evaluate the possibility of different methods to provide information about causal inference.
  • Evaluate the properties of a biomarker.
  • Design, conduct basic data analysis, and interpret results from a molecular epidemiology study.
  • Evaluate how different "omics"-technologies (genetics, epigenetics, proteomics and metabolomics) can be used as molecular tools in epidemiological studies.
  • Critically discuss the ethical aspects of using large quantities of biological data collected from human subjects, and have an understanding of the balance between sharing data and protecting the personal integrity of study subjects.

Required Knowledge

60 ECTS from completed courses in Biology, Biomedical Sciences, Biomedical Laboratory Science, Medicine, or Molecular Biology, including at least 5 ECTS Classical Genetics; Proficiency in English equivalent to Swedish upper secondary course English 6.

Form of instruction

The language of instruction is English. Classroom teaching and home studies are combined with seminars, computer exercises, and a group assignment (mandatory).

Examination modes

The theoretical part of the course will be examined at the end of the course through an individual written exam in an exam hall. Group discussions will be examined in a group setting with individual evaluation and to obtain a passing grade active participation is required. Active participation is defined as when the student contributes with individual thoughts, reflections and questions, and includes that the student tries to answer questions asked to them or their group. Computer labs are examined through individual written reports.
At the final written exam one of the following grades will be awarded: Pass with distinction (VG), Pass (G), or Fail (U). At the other mandatory activities only Pass or Fail will be awarded.
To obtain the grade Pass at the written examination the final score needs to be at least 60% of the maximum obtainable score and the presented facts need to be mainly correct and related to the question, as well as integrated into a reasoning context. To obtain the grade Pass with distinction at the written examination the final score needs to be at least 80% of the maximum obtainable score and the presented facts need to be correct and the contents clearly related to the question without containing any irrelevant facts. When applicable, concrete facts shall be integrated within a reasoning context demonstrating a deeper understanding. Exception from the score limits (60 and 80%) can be made under exceptional circumstances.
To obtain the grade Pass on the full course a passing grade needs to have been obtained at the written exam and on the additional mandatory activities.
To obtain the grade Pass with distinction on the full course the requirements for the passing grade needs to be fulfilled and in addition the Pass with distinction grade needs to have been obtained at the written exam.
Students who have not obtained a passing grade at the regular written examination occasion has the right to re-take the exam at so called re-examinations. The first re-examination shall be offered within two months of the original examination occasion, however no sooner than ten working days after the results from the original examination have been communicated. For examinations taking place during May and June the first re-examination can be offered within three months after the original examination occasion. At least one additional re-examination shall be offered within one year of the original examination occasion.
Students who did receive a passing grade on the group work has the right to redo the group examination or will be assigned a replacement task. Such tasks are mainly offered during an ongoing course.
In the event of absence or failed results on a mandatory lecture or other activity the examiner makes the decision about additional replacement tasks or of the student needs to redo the activity at a later occasion.
Exceptions from the course plan examination form can be done for a student with a decision regarding pedagogical support due to different disabilities. Individual adaptation of the examination mode will be considered depending on the student's needs. The examination form will be adapted within the framework of the syllabus' expected learning outcomes. After an initial request by the student, the course responsible teacher, in consultation with the examiner, promptly decides about an adapted examination form. The decision shall then be communicated to the student.
A student who has twice failed an examination for a course or a part thereof, has the right to have another examiner appointed, unless special reasons speak against it (HF Chapter 6, Section 22). Requests for a new examiner are made in writing to the Program Council for the Biomedicine Programmes.

Academic credit transfer
A student has the right to have evaluated whether earlier education that corresponds to knowledge and skills obtained professionally can be credited for the corresponding education at Umeå University. Requests for credit transfers are sent to Studentcentrum/Examina. Additional information regarding credit transfers are available at the University Student Webb and in the The Higher Education Ordinance (Chapter 6). Rejection on an application of credit transfer can be appealed (The Higher Education Ordinance, Chapter 12) to The Higher Education Appeals Board. This applies whether the whole or parts of the application for credit transfer is rejected.

Other regulations

In the event that a course has been terminated or that a new syllabus has replaced the previous one, students shall be guaranteed at least three examinations (including the ordinary examination) according to the previous syllabus for a maximum period of two years from the time when the previous syllabus expired or the course was no longer offered.


The literature list is not available through the web. Please contact the faculty.