Epidemiology I; Introduction to Epidemiology

Doctoral course within the doctoral programme in Epidemiology
Course number: 3041
Credits: 1,5


The aim of the course is to give an introduction to epidemiological theory and practice.

Contents of the course

The course gives an introduction to epidemiological theory and practice. It comprises basic principles regarding design, interpretation, and analysis of epidemiological studies. It introduces the concept of causation, concepts related to measures of disease occurrence and measures of association, common designs for epidemiological studies (with main focus on cohort studies), and the role of bias.


The course focuses on active learning, i.e. putting knowledge into practice and critically reflecting upon the knowledge, rather than memorising facts. Different strategies for teaching and learning will be used, such as lectures, group discussions and various forms of group exercises on selected topics.

Learning outcome

After successfully completing this course each student is expected to be able to:

  • give examples of the contribution of epidemiology to science and discuss the importance of epidemiology as a research discipline.
  • estimate and in a general way interpret measures of disease occurrence and measures of association, and describe how a specific measure is governed by the study design.
  • explain strengths and weaknesses of common epidemiological study designs.
  • identify and explain possible sources of bias in epidemiological studies.
  • describe theoretical models for causation and discuss the principles of causal mechanisms.
  • apply knowledge of epidemiological concepts when critically reviewing scientific literature.

Learning outcomes are classified according to Bloom's taxonomy: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.


To pass the course, the student has to show that the learning outcomes have been achieved. Assessments methods used are group assignments along with written and oral individual tasks. The examination is viewed as contributing to the development of knowledge, rather than as a test of knowledge. Students who do not obtain a passing grade in the first examination will be offered a second chance to resubmit the examination within two months of the final day of the course. Students who do not obtain a passing grade at the first two examinations will be given top priority for admission the next time the course is offered.


Rothman KJ. Epidemiology: An Introduction. 2nd ed. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press; 2012.

Scientific articles will be distributed before and during the course.

Course director and contact

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Zheng Chang

Principal Researcher
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Gunilla Nilsson Roos

Educational Administrator
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