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Methods in Social Epidemiology, 3 Credits

Swedish name: Metoder för Socialepidemiologi

This syllabus is valid: 2019-09-23 and until further notice

Course code: 3FH080

Credit points: 3

Education level: Second cycle

Main Field of Study and progress level: Public Health: Second cycle, has second-cycle course/s as entry requirements

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

Responsible department: Department of Epidemiology and Global Health

Established by: Programme council for Master Programmes in Public Health, 2019-09-13


Social epidemiology involves examining and understanding the influence of social circumstances and processes on patterns of health and ill health in populations, especially the unequal distribution of health. Socioeconomic inequalities in health are a major challenge for health policy. Monitoring the changes in the magnitude of these inequalities is essential to assess the effectiveness of health policy interventions. There is a wide variety of summary measures for the magnitude of socioeconomic inequalities in health. These measures choose different perspectives, and it is recommended to assess the magnitude of health inequalities based on a set of diverse measures that together cover all the relevant perspectives. Both simple and sophisticated summary measures are available for each of these perspectives

The different measurements included in the course are: 
  • the slope index of inequality and the relative index of inequality
  • the concentration index
  • principal component analysis applied to socioeconomic status
  • the measurement of intersectionality including decomposition analysis and propensity score matching. 

Expected learning outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding
After this course the student is expected to:
  • Differentiate various measures of health inequalities and judge their weakness and  strength.
  • Describe and explain the theoretical concepts behind the health inequality measurements.

Skills and Abilities
After this course the student is expected to:
  • Calculate the measures of health inequalities presented in the course.

Judgement and Approach
After this course the student is expected to:
  • Evaluate and assess the results of the health inequality measurements.

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. To be admitted to the course the applicant must have passed the course 3FH038 Epidemiology or have equivalent qualifications. English proficiency equivalent to English B/6 from Swedish Upper secondary education.

Form of instruction

The course has one week with interactive lectures and the rest of the course includes self-study hours including completing the written home assignment. Teaching is conducted through lectures, group works and seminars. Reading and discussing the content of the course books and other course material are essential during the course weeks. Teaching is given in English.

Examination modes

A methodological home assignment. Overall grades for the course are Fail, Pass or Pass with distinction
If a student receives a Fail grade on the written home exam, he or she will be required to revise their exam according to comments provided by the examiner within the time-line determined by the examiner. Students have the right to five rounds of revisions.

If there are special reasons, the examiner has the right to decide whether another form of examination can be used. 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

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. A decision about this is made by the course coordinator.

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,, 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: 2019 week 39

Methods in social epidemiology
Oakes J. Michael, Kaufman Jay S.
San Francisco, CA : Jossey-Bass : 2006 : 478 s. :
ISBN: 978-0-7879-7989-8
Search Album, the University Library catalogue