University of Technology Sydney

090013 Fundamentals of Epidemiology

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2024 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Health
Credit points: 6 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


This subject covers the essential knowledge that clinicians, project officers, health service managers and planners, and public health practitioners need concerning epidemiology and population health. It enables students to apply analytical strategies of epidemiology to the health service and public health environment, and to assess, interpret and critically appraise the quality of evidence of health service studies. Topics covered include epidemiological methods and concepts, understanding epidemiological evidence and its limitations, using population health data, and how findings are used to support public health and health services planning and management decisions. Students also have an opportunity to calculate and interpret measures of disease frequency, association and impact. An emphasis is placed on linking epidemiological theory with application in public health and health services settings and decision making.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:
A. Evaluate and appropriately select major techniques in epidemiological and population health research, including study design, measures of disease frequency and measures of association and impact;
B. Recommend rigorous and appropriate approaches to the collection, storage, interpretation and use of epidemiological and other population health data;
C. Discover the main sources of bias in epidemiological research and propose how these should be accounted for and addressed;
D. Explain the roles, strengths and weaknesses of randomised controlled trials and the common observational designs;
E. Create a variety of ways in which complex epidemiological and population health data and issues can be effectively communicated for a variety of target audiences;
F. Devise a basic critical appraisal of an epidemiological study.

Teaching and learning strategies

Activities will collaboratively engage students in the examination of real-world epidemiological practice. In this subject, students will participate in a range of teaching and learning activities, such as discussion boards and social polls, aimed at building the required skills and knowledge in epidemiology. Teaching and learning will take place entirely online. Students are expected to work independently and to engage with other students and teachers online through discussion forums and other interactive activities, such as Zoom meetings, for which they will have to prepare in advance.

Assessments are designed to complement student learning by providing students with the opportunity to practically apply and track their understanding of concepts relevant to epidemiology. Students will receive written feedback throughout the session.

Assessment range
Students will be given the opportunity to undertake a variety of assessments. Formative and summative feedback will be provided throughout the subject.

  • Early low-stakes feedback will be provided via the results for the first assessment task, worth 20%
  • Progressive assessment tasks, worth 20%, 40%, and 40%

Content (topics)

  • Introduction to epidemiology
  • Measures of frequency and association
  • Causation, confounding, effect modification
  • Bias
  • Epidemiological study design
  • Using epidemiological data to inform policy decisions, in health services planning and public health
  • Critical appraisal and systematic reviews


Assessment task 1: Online quizzes (Two)


The purpose of this assessment item is to determine how well students understand fundamental epidemiological and population health concepts, including study design, bias, measures of disease frequency and association, as well as demonstrate an ability to interpret epidemiological and other population health data.

Type: Quiz/test
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 20%

Two online quizzes, each involving 10 multiple choice questions. Students will be given two attempts at each quiz, with a maximum of 30 minutes at each attempt to complete the quiz. The quizzes will be delivered in Canvas. The highest mark of the two attempts will be recorded.

  • 30% Judges the accuracy of techniques from the presented range of information and possibilities.
  • 30% Judges the currency of predicted solutions to hypotheses based on making inferences about evidence from a range of possibilities.
  • 40% Judges the quality of solutions to hypotheses based on making inferences about evidence from a range of possibilities.

Assessment task 2: Epidemiological Data Analysis


This assessment item focusses on how to conduct and present analyses of epidemiological datasets.

Type: Report
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 40%

Short answer questions.

Assessment task 3: Critical Appraisal of a Journal Article


This assessment item focusses on critical appraisal of an epidemiological study published in a peer-reviewed journal article. The purpose of this assessment item is to give students a deeper understanding of the appraisal of epidemiological studies.

Type: Report
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 40%

No more than 3 A4 pages, using at least 11 point font, including references.

Required texts

Webb, P., Bain, C., & Page, A. (2020). Essential Epidemiology: An Introduction for Students and Health Professionals (4th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

This textbook is available as an e-book at the UTS Library.

Recommended texts

Links to other books will be provided on Canvas.


There is a list of books and articles in the reading list section of Canvas that may provide students with useful references to help in research for assignments. A list of journals, websites and other online references are also provided on Canvas.

Other resources

UTS Student Centre
Building 10

Monday to Friday: 9am - 5pm
Tel: 1300 ASK UTS (1300 275 887)

Details for student centres:

For other resources/ information refer to the Faculty of Health website ( and Canvas at:

UTS Library
The Library has a wide range of resources, facilities and services to support you including textbooks, subject readings, health literature databases, workshops and bookable study rooms. There is also a team of librarians to help you with your questions available via online chat, phone and in person. W:, Facebook: utslibrary, Twitter: @utslibrary Tel: (02) 9514 3666.

Improve your academic and English language skills
Marks for all assessment tasks such as assignments and examinations are given not only for what you write but also for how you write. If you would like the opportunity to improve your academic and English language skills, make an appointment with the HELPS (Higher Education Language & Presentation Support) Service in Student Services.

HELPS (Higher Education Language & Presentation Support)
HELPS provides assistance with English language proficiency and academic language. Students who need to develop their written and/or spoken English should make use of the free services offered by HELPS, including academic language workshops, vacation intensive courses, drop-in consultations, individual appointments and Conversations@UTS ( HELPS staff are also available for drop-in consultations at the UTS Library. Phone (02) 9514 9733.

Please see for additional information on other resources provided to students by UTS.

The Accessibility and Financial Assistance Service
The Accessibility Service can support students with disabilities, medical or mental health conditions, including temporary injuries (e.g., broken limbs). The Accessibility Service works with Academic Liaison Officers in each Faculty to provide ‘reasonable adjustments’ such as exam provisions, assistive technology, requests and strategies for managing your studies alongside your health condition. If you’re unsure whether you need assistance, we recommend getting in touch early and we can provide advice on how our service can assist you. Make an appointment with an Accessibility Consultant (AC) on +61 2 9514 1177 or

The Financial Assistance Service can assist you with financial aspects of life at university, including Centrelink information, tax returns and budgeting, interest-free student loans and grants to assist with course-related costs. Check eligibility and apply online and make an appointment on +61 2 9514 1177 or