University of Technology Sydney

95729 Introduction to 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 foundation subject introduces students to epidemiology and its application in public health. The subject involves the study of factors affecting health and illness from a population rather than an individual perspective. It further develops concepts introduced in 95726 Introduction to Public Health. Epidemiology underpins much of public health. It provides a framework of methods from which information can be reviewed to help identify and address public health problems. Students explore fundamental aspects of epidemiology, including:

  • foundation concepts: surveillance, measurements of health and disease, concepts of health and disease
  • study designs and their use: how epidemiological data can be used to plan and develop interventions to prevent disease (e.g. infection outbreak) and promote health
  • critically appraise the quality of evidence

    This subject provides a strong foundation in epidemiology for those intending to work with health data in public health and health services settings.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:
A. Exhibit a foundation level knowledge of epidemiology and its core function in the interpretation and application of research methods for policy and practice in public health contexts.
B. Apply public health concepts and knowledge to interpret population health statistics and their use.
C. Describe and apply epidemiological concepts and terms, eg prevalence and incidence and their use in public health contexts.
D. Critically appraise published studies, demonstrating a foundation-level ability to assess study design, errors and biases, and interpret study results and conclusions
E. Critically analyse the effects of behaviour and social determinants in public health contexts.
F. Apply foundation level knowledge of epidemiology in health, policy and/or community contexts.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the following graduate attributes:

  • Demonstrate creative and adaptive thinking within a changeable social, political and technological environment. (2.0)
  • Translate research and evaluation into social and professional practice though critical thinking and knowledge integration. (5.0)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

Graduates from this course will have developed foundation level knowledge and skills in epidemiology within a public health context, and be able to apply these critically in professional settings. Graduates will develop applied skills in the importance of social determinants of health, and the role of epidemiology in understanding and addressing these determinants.

Teaching and learning strategies

A range of teaching and learning strategies will be used to engage students with the content and to achieve student learning outcomes. Face to face and online lectures and tutorials as well as interactive learning activities are designed to support collaborative learning and encourage students to participate in class discussions.

  • Prior to attending class, students are to complete pre-class activities (TED talks, YouTube, podcasts, and journal articles) which are aligned with weekly in-class learning to reinforce core epidemiology concepts and skills. Students can review their learning via six online quizzes throughout the session.
  • In class, a variety of delivery formats will be used to introduce concepts, support student learning, and apply/review content. Complex epidemiological concepts introduced in the lectures will be expanded through small group discussions, and problem solving in class. Interactive activities will be used to facilitate discussions and opportunities for feedback from peers and tutors.

UTS Canvas will be used exclusively for posting all lecture materials, readings, and for staff/student communication.

Content (topics)

  • Introduction to Epidemiology
  • Describing health and disease
  • Measuring health and disease - measures of disease and association
  • Measuring the health of populations
  • Epidemiological study design: - study designs and their application, uses of epidemiologic studies, applying measurements of association
  • Appraisal of epidemiological studies, bias and error.
  • Epidemiology and the social determinants of health: social-economic factors; health and environment


Assessment task 1: Online Quizzes


To determine how well students understand fundamental epidemiological concepts and their application, including calculation of measures of disease frequency and association, study design, bias and error, and basic ability to interpret epidemiological and population health data.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, B, C, D, E and F

This assessment task contributes to the development of graduate attribute(s):

2.0 and 5.0

Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 30%

Each quiz consists of five questions, and you have ten minutes to complete each quiz.

Assessment task 2: Analysis of epidemiological data


Students develop skills in calculating, interpreting and reviewing common epidemiological measures and consider their importance.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, B and C

This assessment task contributes to the development of graduate attribute(s):

2.0 and 5.0

Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 30%

Assessment task 3: Critical appraisal of research


Students demonstrate skills at a foundation level in the critical appraisal of epidemiological research studies and their ability to differentiate use and structure of different study designs.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, C, D, E and F

This assessment task contributes to the development of graduate attribute(s):

2.0 and 5.0

Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 40%

1200 words (excluding references)

Required texts

There is no required textbook.

Recommended texts

We will follow this book most closely:

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

An electronic copy of the third edition of the whole book is available as an e-book in the e-library at UTS Library.


Bonita, R., Beaglehole, R., & Kjellstrom, T. (2007). Basic epidemiology (2nd ed.). World Health Organization.

Buttner, P. & Muller, R. (2015). Epidemiology (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press.

Rothman, K. (2012). Epidemiology: an introduction (2nd ed). Oxford University Press.( (Note: An electronic copy of the whole book is available as an e-book in the e-library at UTS Library.

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