School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Advanced Epidemiology (PHCM9518)

image - Advanced Epidemiology

This course explores advanced epidemiological techniques and builds upon and extends the epidemiological knowledge and skills taught in the PHCM9498 Epidemiology and Statistics for Public Health core course. The course achieves its aims through case studies in three areas in which epidemiology has made a substantial contribution to public health and clinical policy and practice. These are cancer, HIV, cardiovascular disease, hepatitis and screening for disease. The focus of the course is on the importance of epidemiological methods, and will give students a deeper understanding of design and sources of bias in epidemiological studies.

Credit points

This course is an elective course for all students enrolled in SPHCM programs and is a stream-defining course for students enrolled in the Quantitative Research Methods stream of the Master of Public Health. It comprises 6 units of credit (UOC) towards the total required for completion of the study program.

A prerequisite to enrol in this course is successful completion of PHCM9498 Epidemiology and Statistics in Public Health. Students who have achieved a credit in the epidemiological components of the PHCM9498 course will be well-prepared to explore the concepts covered in the Advanced Epidemiology course.

Mode of study

External (Distance) and Internal (Face-to-Face) classes on campus.

Course aim

The aim of this course is to enable you to apply an advanced epidemiological approach to the study of disease and illness and to critically appraise, interpret and assess the quality of evidence of studies.

Course information

This course builds sophisticated understanding and skills in core principles and methods of epidemiology that is necessary for analysis and interpretation of public health data as well as critical appraisal of the public health literature. Key capabilities identified include:

  • The interpretation and application of research methods for policy and practice in public health contexts, and
  • Protecting the health of populations and preventing communicable and non-communicable diseases and hazards through appropriate interventions.

This course is taught with an emphasis on understanding and then applying epidemiological methods. This will be done through a combination of practical learning activities and critical evaluation of the literature.

Course Outcomes

At the completion of the courses, students will be able to:

  • Evaluate the contribution of epidemiological studies in specific areas of research, policy and practice in the areas of epidemiological methods, cancer and infectious and justify your reasoning
  • Critically assess the epidemiological quality of research in a range of studies outlining the basis of your methodological approach and criteria for determining the quality of the research
  • Demonstrate sophisticated interpretation and application of epidemiological methods and principles and explain their relevance to specific study designs
Learning and teaching rationale

The approach to learning and teaching in this course is based on adult learning principles. When we introduce new material, we expect you as postgraduate students to be able to integrate prior knowledge with new concepts. The best way to learn new material and the application of the techniques taught in the course is for you to practice using self-directed learning activities and assessment tasks that reflect the learning objectives of the course and are drawn from real studies.


Assessment 1 - Quiz
Weighting: 10%

Assessment 2
Weighting: 45%

Assessment 3
Weighting: 45%

Learning resources

Learning resources for this course consist of the following:

  1. Course readings
  2. Lecture slides
  3. Lecture recordings
  4. Supplementary resources such as videos, podcasts
  5. Recommended textbook
Recommended readings

Required textbook:
Szklo M. and.Nieto F.J. (2014) Epidemiology: Beyond the Basics, 3rd Edition, Jones & Bartlett Learning, Burlington, Massachusetts (also available as an e-book from the library).

Recommended texts:
Gordis L. (2014) Epidemiology, 5th Edition, Elsevier Saunders, Philadelphia (also available as an e-book from the library).

Rothman KJ, Greenland S and Lash TL (2008) Modern Epidemiology 3rd Edition, Wolters Kluwer Health, Philadelphia (also available as an e-book from the library).