Introduction to Epidemiology

Introduction to Epidemiology will provide you with insights into the basic terminology and principles of epidemiology. These range from the history and design of epidemiological research to the different measures of frequency and association. We will also address the principles of bias and confounding, thereby enabling you to familiarize yourself with all key epidemiological concepts.

This is one of the online medical courses offered through the MSc Epidemiology program of the UMC Utrecht and Utrecht University, and as such is highly relevant for anyone participating in a medical education or working in healthcare. It will also provide you with a good basis for further research into specialized areas of epidemiology. Introduction to Epidemiology is part of MSc Epidemiology Postgraduate Online; the online MSc program in Epidemiology offered by Utrecht University, University Medical Center Utrecht, MSc Epidemiology and Elevate Health.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the course, you should be able to:

  • Use and explain the basic terminology and principles used in epidemiology
  • State important historical developments in health sciences in general, and epidemiology in particular

In particular, you should be able to:

  • Distinguish between and apply, the different measures of frequency, association, and impact that are commonly used in epidemiological research
  • Calculate these measures using simple numerical examples
  • Tell apart and explain the different aspects of epidemiological research (causal and descriptive)
  • Tell apart and state the (dis)advantages of the different study designs used in epidemiological research: cohort, case-control and cross-sectional studies
  • Read and interpret (simple) epidemiological scientific papers, and recognize in these papers which study design was used
  • Apply the correct measures of frequency and association belonging to the different epidemiological study designs
  • Explain the meaning of the terms ‘bias’ and ‘confounding’ and distinguish between them

Course Topics

  • What is epidemiology?
  • Measuring diseases
  • Design of data collection
  • Cohort studies
  • Case-control studies
  • Cross-sectional studies
  • Bias and confounding

Learning Methods

The whole course will take place online, apart from the final exam. The following learning methods will be used:

  • Web lectures and screencasts
  • Articles
  • Assignments
  • Group discussions

Course Deadlines

Week 0
Sunday before start date - introduce yourself

Week 1
Friday – hand in individual assignment I and II
Sunday – complete Learning Unit 1 and 2

Week 2
Tuesday – peer feedback individual assignment I and II
Friday – hand in individual assignment III
Sunday – complete Learning Unit 3 and 4

Week 3
Tuesday – review and provide feedback on individual assignment III
Sunday – complete Learning Unit 5

Week 4
Monday – final exam


As this is a university course, it is covered by academic accreditation. Upon successful completion of this course, you will receive a recognized certificate from Utrecht University and the UMC Utrecht.

Entry Requirements

To enroll in this course, you need:

  • An academic (university) level of thinking
  • Sufficient proficiency in English reading and writing

Compulsory study materials

‘Epidemiology – An Introduction’ by K.J. Rothman, Oxford University Press, 2nd edition, June 2012, ISBN-13: 978-0199754557.

Please note

As this is an online course, you do need access to an internet connection in order to be able to follow lectures, complete assignments and communicate with fellow participants. (The only part of the course that is not online is the examination.) This course is offered through the MSc Epidemiology program developed by the UMC Utrecht and Utrecht University. The entire course is also available face-to-face.

Course is offered by Course101 As part of the following program

Program taught in:
  • English

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This course is Online
Start Date
3 weeks
385 EUR
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