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This subject is a core subject within the Master of Public Health, the Master of Epidemiology and the Master of Science (Epidemiology). Students should enrol in this subject early in their program of study.
Epidemiology is the discipline of studying the distribution and determinants of disease in populations and is a fundamental science of public health.
The subject covers the role of epidemiology in public health and ethical conduct of quantitative research. Within this subject the measures of population health and disease frequency, measures of association and measures of the impact of specific risk factors are studied. The subject includes descriptive epidemiology using routinely collected data. The common experimental and observational study designs, and systematic reviews, and their relative strengths and weaknesses are discussed. The implications of common types of bias (selection bias, information bias, and confounding) are discussed, as are methods to minimise them. Causal inference is considered within a framework of critical appraisal of epidemiological evidence. The validity and performance of screening and diagnostic tests are considered. Current infectious diseases will also be examined by considering the principles of infectious disease transmission and surveillance systems used for health protection. The cultural considerations in undertaking research within indigenous populations, and epidemiological measures in the context of indigenous health will be considered in an online module.
Intended learning outcomes
At the completion of this subject, students are expected to be able to:
- Calculate and interpret measures of disease frequency, association and impact and interpret commonly used summary measures of population health
- Use routinely collected data to describe the patterns of a disease in the community
- Recognise the roles, strengths and weaknesses of systematic reviews, randomised controlled trials, cohort studies and case-control studies
- Recognise confounding, selection bias and information bias in epidemiological studies and discuss means to minimise their effects
- Perform basic critical appraisals of randomised controlled trials, cohort studies and case-control studies
- Assess whether associations are likely to be causal or non-causal
- Describe the basic principles in infectious disease transmission and surveillance systems used for health protection
- Explain the epidemiological principles of screening, and calculate and interpret measures of validity and performance of screening tests
Upon completion of this subject, students will have developed skills in:
• Critical thinking and analysis
• Finding, evaluating and using relevant information
• Written communication
• Using computers
Last updated: 3 November 2022