Course Outline

PUB701 Foundations of Epidemiology

Course Coordinator:Rachel Cole ( School:School of Health and Behavioural Sciences

2022Semester 1


Online You can do this course without coming onto campus.

Please go to the USC website for up to date information on the
teaching sessions and campuses where this course is usually offered.

What is this course about?


This course explores the science of epidemiology which is about understanding the distribution, patterns and determinants of health and wellbeing, and disease in populations. Knowledge gained from epidemiology is used to inform research, policy and practice decisions to protect and promote the health and wellbeing of the population. You will develop your knowledge about epidemiological concepts and study designs and apply epidemiology skills to current and emerging public health priorities.

How will this course be delivered?

Activity Hours Beginning Week Frequency
Online – 3 hours of structured asynchronous online learning activities and an optional 1-hour online Zoom drop-in session 4hrs Week 1 13 times

Course Topics

Introduction to epidemiological concepts

Measuring and interpreting disease occurrence

Epidemiological study designs, bias, confounding and concepts of causation

Interpreting epidemiological literature

Prevention and Early Detection

What level is this course?

700 Level (Specialised)

Demonstrating a specialised body of knowledge and set of skills for professional practice or further learning. Advanced application of knowledge and skills in unfamiliar contexts.

What is the unit value of this course?

12 units

How does this course contribute to my learning?

Course Learning Outcomes On successful completion of this course, you should be able to... Graduate Qualities Mapping Completing these tasks successfully will contribute to you becoming... Professional Standard Mapping * International Union for Health Promotion and Education
1 Calculate and interpret epidemiologic measures of occurrence and association used to assess public health impact Empowered
B.3, B.8
2 Identify and critique epidemiological study designs Creative and critical thinker
B.3, B.8, 6.4, 9.1
3 Identify the range of ethical considerations in epidemiological research Empowered
B.3, 6.3, 6.4, 9.4
4 Appraise different types of evidence to inform health policy decision making Creative and critical thinker
4.1, 4.2

* Competencies by Professional Body

International Union for Health Promotion and Education
B.3 The determinants of health and their implications for health promotion action
B.8 The evidence base and research methods, including qualitative and quantitative methods, required to inform and evaluate health promotion action
4.1 Use effective communication skills including written, verbal, non­verbal, and listening skills
4.2 Use information technology and other media to receive and disseminate health promotion information
6.3 Collect, review and appraise relevant data, information and literature to inform health promotion action
6.4 Identify the determinants of health which impact on health promotion action
9.1 Identify and use appropriate health promotion evaluation tools and research methods
9.4 Use research and evidence-based strategies to inform practice

Am I eligible to enrol in this course?

Refer to the USC Glossary of terms for definitions of “pre-requisites, co-requisites and anti-requisites”.


Not applicable


Not applicable



Specific assumed prior knowledge and skills (where applicable)

Not applicable

How am I going to be assessed?

Grading Scale

Standard Grading (GRD)

High Distinction (HD), Distinction (DN), Credit (CR), Pass (PS), Fail (FL).

Details of early feedback on progress

Ongoing support and feedback on project progress will be provided in workshops  You will also be able to check your progress each week with self-check quizzes embedded into learning materials (not assessed).

Assessment tasks

Delivery mode Task No. Assessment Product Individual or Group Weighting % What is the duration / length? When should I submit? Where should I submit it?
All 1 Artefact - Technical and Scientific Individual 20%
Students will have two weeks to complete the Task.
Week 6 Online Submission
All 2 Artefact - Professional, and Written Piece Individual 40%
Maximum 1,500 words response.
Week 10 Online Assignment Submission with plagiarism check
All 3 Artefact - Professional, and Written Piece Individual 40%
1000 words
Exam Period Online Assignment Submission with plagiarism check
All - Assessment Task 1:Multiple choice and short answer
To apply your skills in epidemiology to deconstruct papers and extracts, assess epidemiological research designs, as well as identify the foundational concepts relevant to epidemiological approaches.
Product: Artefact - Technical and Scientific
10 Multiple choice and 5 short answers due week 6. More details will be provided in Canvas.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Understanding of concepts of epidemiology, including the strengths and weaknesses of different study designs.
1 2 3
Accuracy of routine epidemiological calculations.
Accurate interpretation of epidemiological data and study findings.
2 3
All - Assessment Task 2:Article critique
To apply your skills in epidemiology to critique an epidemiological study published in the peer-reviewed literature.
Product: Artefact - Professional, and Written Piece
Critical assessment, using the knowledge and skills gained throughout the course, of a randomly allocated published peer-reviewed article. More details will be available on Canvas.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Identification of epidemiological characteristics of a study.
1 2
Critically assess and interpret the effects of potential bias, confounding and error
Quality of communication of the findings of an article critique.
All - Assessment Task 3:Policy Brief
To demonstrate your professional skills in
advocating for an evidence-based public health approach.
Product: Artefact - Professional, and Written Piece
In this task, you will develop a written professional policy brief demonstrating your understanding of epidemiological concepts and evidence to ensure a policy is based on the best available evidence. More details will be provided in Canvas.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Application of epidemiological principles to develop the brief.
1 4
Integration of epidemiological concepts and data to develop the argument.
1 4
Relevance and integration of epidemiological research and data to support arguments presented.
Appropriateness of recommendations made.
Adherence to policy brief genre.

Directed study hours

A 12-unit course will have total of 150 learning hours which will include directed study hours (including online if required), self-directed learning and completion of assessable tasks. Directed study hours may vary by location. Student workload is calculated at 12.5 learning hours per one unit.

What resources do I need to undertake this course?

Please note: Course information, including specific information of recommended readings, learning activities, resources, weekly readings, etc. are available on the course Canvas site– Please log in as soon as possible.

Prescribed text(s) or course reader

Please note that you need to have regular access to the resource(s) listed below. Resources may be required or recommended.

Required? Author Year Title Edition Publisher
Required Penelope Webb, Chris Bain, Andrew Page 2019 Essential Epidemiology - Introduction for Students and Health Professionals Edition 2 or 3 or 4 n/a

Specific requirements

You need access to a basic calculator.

How are risks managed in this course?

Health and safety risks for this course have been assessed as low. It is your responsibility to review course material, search online, discuss with lecturers and peers and understand the health and safety risks associated with your specific course of study and to familiarise yourself with the University’s general health and safety principles by reviewing the online induction training for students, and following the instructions of the University staff.

What administrative information is relevant to this course?

Assessment: Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the ethical standard of university participation.  It ensures that students graduate as a result of proving they are competent in their discipline.  This is integral in maintaining the value of academic qualifications. Each industry has expectations and standards of the skills and knowledge within that discipline and these are reflected in assessment.

Academic integrity means that you do not engage in any activity that is considered to be academic fraud; including plagiarism, collusion or outsourcing any part of any assessment item to any other person.  You are expected to be honest and ethical by completing all work yourself and indicating in your work which ideas and information were developed by you and which were taken from others. You cannot provide your assessment work to others. You are also expected to provide evidence of wide and critical reading, usually by using appropriate academic references.

In order to minimise incidents of academic fraud, this course may require that some of its assessment tasks, when submitted to Canvas, are electronically checked through Turnitin.  This software allows for text comparisons to be made between your submitted assessment item and all other work to which Turnitin has access.

Assessment: Additional Requirements

Eligibility for Supplementary Assessment
Your eligibility for supplementary assessment in a course is dependent of the following conditions applying:
a.	The final mark is in the percentage range 47% to 49.4%
b.	The course is graded using the Standard Grading scale
c.	You have not failed an assessment task in the course due to academic misconduct.

Assessment: Submission penalties

Late submission of assessment tasks may be penalised at the following maximum rate: 
- 5% (of the assessment task's identified value) per day for the first two days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. 
- 10% (of the assessment task's identified value) for the third day - 20% (of the assessment task's identified value) for the fourth day and subsequent days up to and including seven days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. 
- A result of zero is awarded for an assessment task submitted after seven days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. Weekdays and weekends are included in the calculation of days late. To request an extension you must contact your course coordinator to negotiate an outcome.


USC is committed to a culture of respect and providing a safe and supportive environment for all members of our community. For immediate assistance on campus contact SafeUSC by phone: 07 5430 1168 or using the SafeZone app. For general enquires contact the SafeUSC team by phone 07 5456 3864 or email

The SafeUSC Specialist Service is a Student Wellbeing service that provides free and confidential support to students who may have experienced or observed behaviour that could cause fear, offence or trauma. To contact the service call 07 5430 1226 or email

Study help

For help with course-specific advice, for example what information to include in your assessment, you should first contact your tutor, then your course coordinator, if needed.

If you require additional assistance, the Learning Advisers are trained professionals who are ready to help you develop a wide range of academic skills. Visit the Learning Advisers web page for more information, or contact Student Central for further assistance: +61 7 5430 2890 or

Wellbeing Services

Student Wellbeing provide free and confidential counselling on a wide range of personal, academic, social and psychological matters, to foster positive mental health and wellbeing for your academic success.

To book a confidential appointment go to Student Hub, email or call 07 5430 1226.

AccessAbility Services

Ability Advisers ensure equal access to all aspects of university life. If your studies are affected by a disability, learning disorder mental health issue, injury or illness, or you are a primary carer for someone with a disability or who is considered frail and aged, AccessAbility Services can provide access to appropriate reasonable adjustments and practical advice about the support and facilities available to you throughout the University.

To book a confidential appointment go to Student Hub, email or call 07 5430 2890.

Links to relevant University policy and procedures

For more information on Academic Learning & Teaching categories including:

  • Assessment: Courses and Coursework Programs
  • Review of Assessment and Final Grades
  • Supplementary Assessment
  • Administration of Central Examinations
  • Deferred Examinations
  • Student Academic Misconduct
  • Students with a Disability

Visit the USC website:

Student Charter

USC is committed to excellence in teaching, research and engagement in an environment that is inclusive, inspiring, safe and respectful. The Student Charter sets out what students can expect from the University, and what in turn is expected of students, to achieve these outcomes.

General Enquiries

  • In person:
    • USC Sunshine Coast - Student Central, Ground Floor, Building C, 90 Sippy Downs Drive, Sippy Downs
    • USC Moreton Bay - Service Centre, Ground Floor, Foundation Building, Gympie Road, Petrie
    • USC SouthBank - Student Central, Building A4 (SW1), 52 Merivale Street, South Brisbane
    • USC Gympie - Student Central, 71 Cartwright Road, Gympie
    • USC Fraser Coast - Student Central, Student Central, Building A, 161 Old Maryborough Rd, Hervey Bay
    • USC Caboolture - Student Central, Level 1 Building J, Cnr Manley and Tallon Street, Caboolture
  • Tel:+61 7 5430 2890