School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Infectious Diseases Intelligence Course Description

This course is offered in Term 2 2019 in two different modes:

1) 4-day face-to-face workshop for internal students, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm, 3 June 2019 – 6 June 2019
2) Fully online for external students


Infectious diseases continue to threaten humanity. The emergence of novel human pathogens and old pathogens in new environments has tested the bounds of existing infectious diseases intelligence generation and response capacity. Recent experiences with infectious diseases management has seen new and expanded roles for military, health agencies, international organisations, NGOs and other stakeholders, all of whom should have an in-depth grounding in infectious diseases intelligence. This course is for professionals wanting to gain an in-depth understanding of the public health intelligence of infectious diseases, who wish to extend themselves with diverse real-life scenarios to gain new skills which can be applied in their professional practice.


Infectious diseases intelligence refers to the understanding of the complex epidemic patterns of infectious diseases and the application of this knowledge to effective disease control, mitigation and prevention. Infectious diseases contribute significantly to the global burden of diseases and remain leading causes of death across the world. Emerging and re-emerging infections such as pandemic influenza, Ebola, Zika, dengue, chikungunya and MERS Corona Virus (CoV) pose an additional public health challenge and require coordinated and systematic disease control responses. A multi-disciplinary, public health approach is needed to understand the requirements for infectious diseases control at a population level. This course uses case studies to teach epidemiologic disease pattern recognition, identification of aberrant patterns, and interpretation of epidemic and surveillance data to inform disease control. An overview of field epidemiology methods and mathematical modeling of infectious diseases will also be provided. Case studies will include Ebola, H7N9, MERS coronavirus and a salmonella outbreak.

Course description
  • This course is designed to teach advanced outbreak investigation and surveillance methods.The course will provide a grounding in epidemiological pattern recognition (epidemic, endemic, sporadic) in infectious diseases for first-outbreak responders, surveillance officers, or policy makers from medicine, allied health, public health, emergency management, law enforcement, military or others from  relevant backgrounds.
  • Case studies in risk assessment, risk mitigation, response and prevention will be studied. These will cover Ebola virus disease, MERS-CoV, avian influenza and salmonellosis; distinguishing natural from unnatural epidemics, surveillance tools, rapid intelligence and analysis methods.
  • Data quality in resource limited settings and implications for risk assessment will be examined.
  • Understanding of modelling and forecasting of infectious diseases based on known transmission dynamics and patterns will also be explored.
  • Preparation of first line responders to optimise usage of infectious diseases intelligence techniques will be covered, including prioritisation of data sourcing/mining, strengthening, mapping disease transmission patterns to modes of transmission, and ultimately epidemic control measures.
  •  This is a companion course to both Outbreak Investigation and Bioterrorism and Health Intelligence, and should be taken by anyone considering a career in epidemic response and field epidemiology.
Credit points

This course is a core course of the Master of Infectious Diseases Intelligence Program, comprising 6 units of credit towards the total required for completion of the study program. A value of 6 UOC requires a minimum of 150 hours work for the average student across the semester.

Who should do this course?

This course is designed for relevant stakeholders from any sector, who wish to gain a better understanding of infectious diseases intelligence in the era of new and emerging disease threats, and management approaches for the identification, assessment, prevention and control of infectious diseases. Students will have an intensive, interactive experience, which will include exposure to the perspectives of different stakeholder sectors in infectious diseases.

Flexible delivery

For busy professionals with diverse needs, we provide you the flexibility to do this intensive course in Sydney in face-to-face workshop mode or as a fully online intensive. We ensure an equivalent interactive and intensive experience regardless of which mode of delivery you choose. Our experienced tutors will also be available to discuss problems online as well as face-to-face in the classroom.

Learning and teaching rationale

The approach to learning and teaching and the organisation of this course are designed to encourage the development of lifelong learning skills and intellectual flexibility that can be applied to the area of infectious diseases intelligence, prevention, control and preparedness. Whilst each module is a discrete learning experience, the modules are mutually informing and interrelated.

Teaching strategies

Pre-course module for students -  If you do not have a background in health or medicine, you are strongly encouraged to complete the short online module Essentials of Public Health (available on your Moodle course site) before beginning the course modules. The content in this module will be referred to in your online discussions and activities. 

Internal students - We will use a partially ‘Flipped Classroom” approach in this course. This will consist of both face-to-face class time (at the on campus workshop) and online components.  In a partially flipped class, you will watch some lecture videos outside of class time.  Face-to-face class time will be mainly dedicated to case studies, hands-on activities and interactive, personalised learning. Some lectures will be delivered in class as well. As an internal student, you are required to attend the on campus workshop.

External students - This course is available fully online for external students. There are four modules in this course.  Each module contains a mixture of recorded lectures and case studies which you can work through in Moodle at your own pace over 2-3 weeks. However, you will be required to cover all online lectures and case studies before the first assessment task (Quiz). There will be a discussion forum available for each module, which you can use to post any issues raised in the readings, the lectures or case studies during the course. The discussion forums will be supported by SPHCM academic staff on weekdays. There will also be two webinars (live synchronous sessions) provided during the course to support your learning, provide an opportunity to discuss key issues from the modules as well as the opportunity to request for clarifications regarding assignments.


Assessment Task 1 - Online Quiz
Weighting: 20%
Length: 20 Multiple Choice Questions

Assessment Task 2 - Assignment
Weighting: 35%
Length: multi-component questions, around 1500 words in total

Assessment Task 3 - Assignment
Weighting: 45%
Length: multi-component questions, around 2000 words in total

Readings and resources

Learning resources for this course consist of the following:

  1. Course notes and readings
  2. Lectures slides (posted in Moodle)
  3. Lecture recordings (available in Moodle)
  4. Supplementary resources such as videos, podcasts (available in Moodle)