School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Epidemiology (PHCM2001)


This course introduces students to epidemiological principles and methods.  It aims to enable students to apply an epidemiological approach to the study of disease and illness, to interpret and assess the quality of evidence of a range of study designs and report on epidemiological research.

Credit points

This is a core course in the Bachelor of International Public Health (3880) comprising 6 units of credit towards the total required for completion of the study program.

Mode of study

Fully online.


There are no pre-requisite courses that need to be completed before undertaking this course.

Course aim

This course introduces you to epidemiological principles and methods. The aims of the course are to enable you to:

  • Apply an epidemiological approach to the study of disease and illness,
  • Interpret and assess the quality of evidence of a range of study designs, and
  • To report on epidemiological research.
Course outcomes

On successfully completing this course you will be able to:

  • Calculate and interpret measures of disease occurrence and understand the difference between incidence and prevalence.
  • Calculate measures of association between exposures and disease and understand appropriate use of odds ratios, relative risks and other measures, as well as measures of public health impact.
  • Demonstrate understanding methods for standardisation of rates.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the applications of and the difference between observational and interventional epidemiology.
  • Describe appropriate study designs to assess population health status, determinants of health and health system utilisation, and measures of the efficacy of interventions in health.
  • Assess and evaluate the impact of study errors/bias on the validity of a study.
Learning and teaching rationale

This course has been designed to support you in gaining the fundamental knowledge and skills for applying epidemiology within a public health practice role. This course uses learning activities and assessment tasks that reflect the learning outcomes of the course and are drawn from real studies in order to support your learning of new concepts and the application of epidemiological techniques through practice, lectures, online discussions and scheduled webinars.

The course is delivered fully online over a ten-week term. You are expected to spend approximately 10-15 hours a week preparing for and actively participating in this course and preparing for and completing assessments through UNSW Moodle.


Assessment Task 1 - Quizzes 1-3
Weighting: 30% (10% each)
Length: 10 multiple choice questions each

Assessment Task 2 - Mid-term Assessment
Weighting: 25%
Length: 2 short answer questions, comprised of multiple parts

Assessment Task 3 - Final Assessment
Weighting: 45%
Length: 3 parts consisting of multiple questions

Readings and resources

There is a compulsory textbook for 2020 which is:

Webb P, Bain C, Page A (2019) Essential epidemiology: an introduction for students and health professionals, 4th edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.