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Unit of study_

BSTA5011: Epidemiology for Biostatisticians

On completion of this unit students should be familiar with the major concepts and tools of epidemiology, the study of health in populations, and should be able to judge the quality of evidence in health-related research literature. This unit covers: historical developments in epidemiology; sources of data on mortality and morbidity; disease rates and standardisation; prevalence and incidence; life expectancy; linking exposure and disease (eg. relative risk, attributable risk); main types of study designs - case series, ecological studies, cross-sectional surveys, case-control studies, cohort or follow-up studies, randomised controlled trials; sources of error (chance, bias, confounding); association and causality; evaluating published papers; epidemics and epidemic investigation; surveillance; prevention; screening.


Academic unit Public Health
Unit code BSTA5011
Unit name Epidemiology for Biostatisticians
Session, year
Semester 2, 2021
Attendance mode Online
Location Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

PUBH5010 or CEPI5100
Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator Erin Cvejic,
Administrative staff SSPH Education Support Office: BCA Coordinating Office:
Type Description Weight Due Length
Tutorial quiz Computer-based Assessment
Open book, timed online quiz covering all unit content
25% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Assignment Short answer and calculation-based assessment
Covers Modules 1 to 2
25% Week 05 3 to 5 pages
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3
Assignment Guided Critical Appraisal
Covers Modules 3 to 6
50% Week 10 8-10 pages
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
  • Assignment 1 comprises a series of short answer questions (including calculations) on content from Modules 1 and 2
  • Assignment 2 (Guided Critical Appraisal) will involve students conducting a guided critical appraisal of an epidemiological study, as well as some related calculation-based questions on content from Modules 3 to 6.
  • Assignment 3 is an online, timed quiz. The quiz will be open for 1 week. Students will need to log in and answer questions in one x two-hour timed session during this time.
  • Detailed information for each assessment will be provided on the eLearning platform

Assessment criteria


Mark Range



Absent fail

Range from 0 to 49

To be awarded to students who fail to demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an acceptable standard through failure to submit or attend compulsory assessment tasks or to attend classes to the required level. In cases where a student receives some marks but fails the unit through failure to attend or submit a compulsory task, the mark entered shall be the marks awarded by the faculty up to a maximum of 49. This grade should not be used in cases where a student attempts all assessment tasks but fails to achieve a mandated minimum standard in one or more task. In such cases a Fail (FA) grade and a mark less than 50 should be awarded.



Range from 0 to less than 50

To be awarded to students who, in their performance in assessment tasks, fail to demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an acceptable standard established by the faculty. This grade, with corresponding mark, should also be used in cases where a student fails to achieve a mandated standard in a compulsory assessment, thereby failing to demonstrate the learning outcomes to a satisfactory standard.



Range from 50 to less than 65

To be awarded to students who, in their performance in assessment tasks, demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an acceptable standard



Range from 65 to less than 75

To be awarded to students who, in their performance in assessment tasks, demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a good standard



Range from 75 to less than 85

To be awarded to students who, in their performance in assessment tasks, demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a very high standard


High distinction

Range from 85 to 100 inclusive

To be awarded to students who, in their performance in assessment tasks, demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an exceptional standard

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure or if you have essential commitments which impact your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website provides information on academic honesty, academic dishonesty, and the resources available to all students.

The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic dishonesty or plagiarism seriously.

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic dishonesty. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of dishonesty, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Module 1 - What is Epidemiology Individual study (10 hr) LO1
Week 02 Module 2 - Measuring Disease Frequency Individual study (10 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 03 Module 3 - Association Individual study (20 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 05 Module 4 - Real World Applications Individual study (20 hr) LO3 LO4 LO7
Week 07 Module 5 - Alternative Explanations Individual study (20 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 09 Module 6 - Integration and Interpretation Individual study (30 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 12 Module 7 - Recap and Revision Individual study (10 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7

Attendance and class requirements

  • There are no lectures for this course.
  • Learning resources and activities are provided online
  • Students should work through the activities at their own pace. The timelines provided are a guide to ensure students keep up with content and cover the required material before assessments are due.
  • Five in-class workshops are designed to give students an opportunity to recap key content, work through the tutorial content with peers, and get help and feedback from course staff. These are optional and are open to both internal and external students.
  • Dates and times for these workshops are provided on the eLearning platform

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

Text book: Webb, P, Bain, C, and Page, A. Essential epidemiology: An introduction for students and health professionals, 4th Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University’s graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Recognise and explain the role, strengths and challenges of the epidemiologic approach in contributing to our understanding of health and illness
  • LO2. Calculate and interpret measures of disease frequency, and measures of association between an exposure and an outcome
  • LO3. Identify and compare the major study designs within observational and interventional epidemiology
  • LO4. Identify and differentiate between major sources of bias, confounding, effect modifiers and mediators, and predict their potential effects on measures of association
  • LO5. Assess whether observed associations are likely to be causal or non-causal
  • LO6. Critically appraise published epidemiological studies using a logical framework to ascertain their internal and external validity
  • LO7. Apply epidemiological concepts as they relate to specialised fields of epidemiology, including infectious disease epidemiology, disease prevention and screening

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities
Based on student feedback this course has been redesigned to allow for flexible, self-paced online learning. Short videos and online material have replaced lectures. More opportunities (quizzes, practice questions, online tutorial activities) have been provided to let students practice skills, and check their understanding of core content. In class workshops have been created to allow students to work in groups to problem solve, and also ask questions regarding online content. All of this redevelopment has been created in partnership with current students, to ensure material is interesting and easy to understand.

This unit is delivered externally as part of the Biostatistics Collaboration of Australia.


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