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Unit of study_

BSTA5011: Epidemiology for Biostatisticians

Semester 2, 2022 [Online] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

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.

Unit details and rules

Unit code BSTA5011
Academic unit Public Health
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Erin Cvejic,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Short answer and calculation-based assessment
Covers Modules 1 to 2
25% -
Due date: 28 Aug 2022 at 23:59
3 to 5 pages
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3
Assignment Guided Critical Appraisal
Covers Modules 3 to 6
50% -
Due date: 09 Oct 2022 at 23:59
8-10 pages
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Tutorial quiz Computer-based Assessment
Open book, timed online quiz covering all unit content
25% Week 13 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2

Assessment summary

  • 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 2-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. 



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. 



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

For more information see guide to grades.

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.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity 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 integrity breaches seriously.  

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

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

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.
  • Seven workshops (held over Zoom) 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 but highly recommended.
  • 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

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

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.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

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