Epidemiology for Biostatisticians (BSTA5011)


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; the role of epidemiology in health services research and policy.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


8-12 hours total study time per week, distance learning


3x written assignments (25%, 50%, 25%)


Bain C, Webb P. Essential Epidemiology: An Introduction for Students and Health Professionals, 2nd edition. Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules



Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.