Student Pages
Postgraduate course

Observational Epidemiology

  • ECTS credits5
  • Teaching semesterSpring
  • Course codeINTH356
  • Number of semesters1
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Resources

Main content

Level of Study


Teaching semester


Place of Instruction

Centre for International Health

Objectives and Content

The course aims to prepare students for the use of epidemiology in global public health.

The main topics covered:

  • Sampling methods and design effects
  • Sample size and statistical power
  • Measures of disease occurrence and of exposure-disease association
  • Bias, confounding, effect modification
  • Surveys and surveillance
  • Cross-sectional study
  • Cohort study
  • Case-control study
  • Planning and evaluation of the different study designs

Introduction to basic usage of STATA software

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the student should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student:

  • knows about sampling methods and design effects
  • understands principles of sample size calculations and statistical power
  • explains measures of disease occurrence and of exposure-disease association
  • explains bias, confounding and effect modification
  • describes the methodological principles of in observational epidemiology: surveys and surveillance; cross-sectional study; cohort study; case-control study
  • describes the planning and evaluation of the different study designs


The student is able to:

  • critically evaluate epidemiological research
  • distinguish the principles of different observational study designs - and how the these designs differ from each other and from the design of randomized controlled trials
  • calculate sample sizes for surveys, cohort studies, and matched and unmatched case control studies
  • compare alternative sampling methods
  • calculate precision and account for design effect in cluster sample surveys.
  • distinguish the different types of cohort studies, i.e. prospective, retrospective and double cohorts
  • distinguish the different types of case-control studies
  • suggest relevant designs (plan) for case control studies, cohort studies and surveys
  • evaluate selection- and information biases in these three study designs and discuss how to minimize such bias
  • evaluate confounding and interaction, how to differentiate between these, how to deal with these

General competence

  • The student is able to use the general skills acquired to analyse, plan and communicate research.

Required Previous Knowledge

Proficiency in English at a level corresponding to TOEFL 550 (paper-based) or 213 (computer-based) or IELTS band 6.0 is expected.

Access to the Course

Students enrolled in the master programme in Global Health, students enrolled in similar programmes at UiB or other partner universities (e.g. tropEd Network for Education in International Health)

Teaching Methods and Extent of Organized Teaching

Self-study week: Introduction to the course, enrolment on to online/digital learning platform and set up of user profile on the platform, downloading of course literature and installing statistical software, pre-reading of introductory material.

Main part of the course: Daily sessions for 2.5 weeks with a mixture of asynchronous online lectures (videos and annotated PowerPoint presentations) and synchronous moderated sessions including group work and computer exercise sessions. The course includes group work on specific topics as well as critical literature review. There will also be an online discussion forum and an opportunity for participants to ask questions and discuss during synchronous sessions.

All course material is available on the University¿s learning platform called ¿Mitt UiB¿, which is based on a Canvas platform

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

In group work, seminars and exercises - 80% attendance

Forms of Assessment

A 2-hour written online exam, consisting of questions with short answers, problem-solving questions and calculations (60% of the grade)

An oral Zoom-based exam of 15-20 minutes (40% of the grade)

The oral assessment makes it possible to ensure that the student presents his/hers knowledge.

The student fails the exam if less than 40% of the questions are correct.

If the student fails the exam, he/she will be allowed to resit the exam in the same semester. If the student fails a second time, he/she will be advised to participate in the course one more time and sit a new exam afterwards.

Grading Scale

ECTS credits A-F (F = fail)

Assessment Semester


Reading List

The reading list will be made available by 1 December on Mitt UiB.

Course Evaluation

Students evaluate the teaching according to the quality assessment requirements of the University of Bergen. The evaluation method is through an online electronic form.


The Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care


Centre for International Health

E-mail: studie@igs.uib.no

Tel: 55 58 85 69