Title: Observational epidemiology (online)
Keywords: Research
Quantitative methods
Country: Norway
Institution: Norway - Centre for International Health, Universitetet i Bergen
Course coordinator: Cecile Svanes
Date start: 2022-03-07
Date end: 2022-03-25
About duration and dates: The course covers a period of 3.3 weeks, with 10-hour pre-reading and 3 weeks of online teaching including exam.
Classification: advanced optional
Mode of delivery: Distance-based
Course location: Delivered online from Centre for International Health, University of Bergen, Norway
ECTS credit points: 5 ECTS credits
SIT: 125 hours SIT:
• 10 hours preparation and pre-reading
• 50 hours web-based lectures (such as real-time lectures, videos, short quizzes)
• 30 hours individual assignments or group assignments with supervision and (presentation of) discussions
• 35 hours individual reading and lab exercises
Language: English
Description: The course aims to prepare students for the use of epidemiology in global public health.
On successful completion of the module, the student will be able to:
• Differentiate between the principles of cross-sectional studies, case-control studies and cohort studies – and be able to compare these designs
• Evaluate different epidemiological designs and be able to discuss results from epidemiological studies critically, including discussion of selection bias and information bias
• Analyse datasets of epidemiological studies
• Estimate sample sizes for different epidemiological studies
• Estimate and interpret disease occurrence and risk associations
• Reflect upon the role of different observational epidemiological studies within the field of global health research
Assessment Procedures: 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.
ECTS Grading Scale: A-F (F = Fail)
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.
Content: 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
Methods: 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
Prerequisites: Students admitted to a Master’s degree programme may join this course (e.g. tropEd network).

Proficiency in English at a level corresponding to TOEFL score of at least 550 points paper-based or 213 points computer-based, or an equivalent approved test.
Course in Basic introduction to Epidemiology and Statistics or equivalent.
Attendance: A minimum of 20 students is needed to run the course, and a maximum of 50 students.
Selection: Priority will be given to:
Master students in Global Health enrolled at the University of Bergen and Master students from institutions within tropEd.
The selection will be based on documented skills in epidemiology and biostatistics. If needed, we use the principle ‘first come, first served’.
Fees: None
Scholarships: None available from the University of Bergen
Major changes since initial accreditation: Now in online version, but still the student evaluation of the on campus version is of value and has guided us in some plans and decisions regarding this online course. Therefore, we include these evaluations below.
Student evaluation: SUMMARY OF THE STUDENT EVALUATION from the face-to-face course (main points):
1. Statistical packages. Students thought it would be beneficial if they could have a short introduction session on Stata/SPSS at the start or end of Day 1 (if not possible before that). However, they were able to work their way through STATA by end of Day 1 and SPSS was fairly intuitive. Suggestion: Distribute pre-reading on introduction to SPSS/STATA, including how to import datasets from different packages (e.g. excel format). Also state in course description that although familiarity with basics of statistical software is an advantage, it is not essential; students may view the pre-reading and the program before the course. During the course a formal session on introduction to the software will not be covered.
2. They were pleased to have two sessions on sampling- this should NOT be changed. The session on causal inference should be retained. Suggestion was to introduce case-control on the last Friday of week 2 (? afternoon) so that we could have some additional time for this component.
3. During the exercises a strong emphasis on interpretation is requested rather only focus on analysis.
4. The amount of time spent on 'recap' of basic concepts could be reduced by referring students to appropriate pre- readings prior to the course. Perhaps also recommend specific sections of the textbook to preview.

• Teaching and assessment methods: Even more hands-on would be good
• Curriculum: Good, see comments from students above
• Information and documentation – would be good if students were better prepared before course, as there were very large differences between students’ pre-course level
• Grade distribution – 19 pass 1 fail - acceptable
• Localities/equipment – auditorium with computers difficult with long distance from back to see screen up front, sound a bit difficult

• Distribute pre-reading on introduction to SPSS/STATA, including how to import datasets from different packages (e.g. excel format). State in course description that familiarity with basics of statistical software is an advantage.
• Give more specific advice as to pre-reading, to reduce somewhat potential large differences in pre-course knowledge
• Change in course description that there will be given grades, not only pass/fail (some students need grades).
Lessons learned: The main lesson learnt from the face-to-face course is that theoretical teaching combined with exercise provides a better method for student learning. During the last years, we have also set aside time for the students to present their own data, and this has been a successful exercise.

The main lesson learned is that some students from tropEd did not have sufficient background in the use of computers and statistics. Most of the comments in the evaluations is because of their weak background in basic epidemiology and statistics. We have therefore put these as pre-requisites for attending future courses.

Also, the knowledge retained by the students on assessing cause and effect varies, and we will increase the number of home assignments to improve this learning outcome.
tropEd accreditation: This course is new in the online form but has been offered as a face-to-face course earlier and tropEd accredited in 2006, 2011 and 2017. There are no major changes to the content of this course, however, the mode of teaching is adapted to the online format. Re-accredited Oct 2020 and valid until October 2025
Date Of Record Creation: 2020-11-04 07:52:24 (W3C-DTF)
Date Of Record Release: 2020-11-04 13:58:41 (W3C-DTF)
Date Record Checked: 2020-11-04 (W3C-DTF)
Date Last Modified: 2021-11-20 22:30:54 (W3C-DTF)