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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Victoria L. Holt
EPI 512
Seattle Campus

Epidemiologic Methods I

Considers principles and methods of epidemiology. Covers measures of disease frequency, descriptive epidemiology, overview of study designs, measures of excess risk, causal inference, screening, measurement error, misclassification, effect modification, and confounding. First in a two course sequence. Prerequisite: BIOST 511, which may be taken concurrently, or equivalent. Offered: A.

Class description

The overall goal of this course series is to enable students to define and appraise the health status of populations and the determinants of health and illness within those populations. Topics to be covered are listed above in the official description and correspond to the student learning goals listed below. EPI 512 is the first course in a two-course sequence on epidemiologic methods. The EPI 512-513 sequence is intended mainly for graduate students majoring in Epidemiology or for others who will actually be conducting research using epidemiologic study designs in the future. These courses are also open to graduate students from other departments who need an in-depth introduction to epidemiologic methods in order to apply them as research tools in related fields.

Student learning goals

By the end of the two-course series students should be able to:

A. Evaluate the integrity and comparability of data and identify gaps in data sources commonly used in epidemiologic research and practice.

B. Define and calculate the major measures of disease frequency used in epidemiologic research and practice.

C. Define and calculate measures of association between a given risk factor and a disease or health outcome.

D. Describe the major epidemiologic research study designs and their advantages and limitations.

E. Describe the major sources of bias in epidemiologic research (confounding, selection bias, and measurement error) and the ways to evaluate and reduce bias.

F. Define and evaluate the modification of associations between a given risk factor and disease or health outcome by a third factor or characteristic.

G. Describe and apply guidelines to support causal inference in epidemiologic studies.

H. List and define the basic terms and methods used in outbreak investigation, infectious disease epidemiology, chronic disease epidemiology, disease prevention trials, and evaluation of screening tests.

I. Critically review the relevant scientific literature, synthesize the findings across studies, and make appropriate public health recommendations based on current knowledge.

J. Design a randomized trial, cohort study, or case-control study to evaluate whether a certain exposure is causally associated with a certain health outcome.

K. Interpret results of an epidemiologic study, including the relation to findings from other epidemiologic studies, the potential biological and/or social mechanisms, the limitations of the study, and the public health implications.

L. Write a clear description of the rationale, methods, results and interpretation of an epidemiologic investigation.

M. Apply epidemiologic skills in a U.S. or global public health setting, specifically in the formulation, application or evaluation of public health programs or policies.

General method of instruction

Sessions generally alternate between lectures and class discussion of a problem set that was distributed previously.

Recommended preparation

Students should either have taken a first course in biostatistics or be enrolled in such a course while taking EPI 512.

Class assignments and grading

Problem sets concern real or hypothetical situations in which topics covered earlier in the course must be applied to solve a study design or data interpretation problem. Other problem sets involve working with data. Still others focus on a published paper and raise questions about how the study was designed and conducted. Eight problem sets are to be handed in and discussed in small group sessions; an additional 10 are for small group discussion only.

Homework - 40%; mid-term exam - 20%; Final exam - 40%.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Course Website
Last Update by Victoria L. Holt
Date: 09/19/2013