Foundations of Epidemiology

University of Otago

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Foundations of Epidemiology

  • Host University

    University of Otago

  • Location

    Dunedin, New Zealand

  • Area of Study

    Biomedical Sciences, Health Science, Human Development, Public Health

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Credit Points

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
    3 - 4
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    4 - 6
  • Overview

    Introduces the science of epidemiology, the study of the distribution and determinants of health and disease in human populations. Examines major health problems in New Zealand and globally.

    Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of health and disease in populations. It underpins all clinical disciplines and is the basic science of public health. The population-based perspective of epidemiology puts the clinical relationship into context by defining the social, behavioural and environmental factors that influence health and affect the risk of disease or injury. An early exposure to epidemiological methods and reasoning provides health science students with a common set of tools to think critically about the underlying causes of disease and injury, and to consider how these can be prevented.

    A first-year course in epidemiology acquaints students with study designs and the critical appraisal of research to form an important basis for evidence-based practice we hope. This experience will inform and enrich students in the years that follow, regardless of the professional direction they take.

    Learning Outcomes
    At the conclusion of this course we expect students to be proficient in the skills listed below. As such, we focus on course competencies rather than the memorisation of specific objectives.In this course you will gain the knowledge and skills to:
    - Describe the general patterns of health and disease in New Zealand and other countries
    - Use a public health model and disease framework to discuss approaches to improve the health of a population
    - Identify the major determinants that influence the health of populations and individuals
    - Understand and interpret basic epidemiological concepts including measures of occurrence, measures of association, and error
    - Understand and explain key components of various epidemiological study designs, including their strengths and weaknesses
    - Understand and apply the concepts of chance, bias, and confounding, and assess evidence for a causal relationship between a specific exposure and a health outcome
    - Utilise epidemiological methods to assess the quality of health information in the scientific literature and mass media

    There is an essential textbook which covers much of the material in this course:Webb P, and Bain C. Essential Epidemiology: An Introduction for Students and Health Professionals (2nd edition). New York: Cambridge University Press 2011.


Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

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Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

Please reference fall and spring course lists as not all courses are taught during both semesters.

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Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.