University of North Carolina School of Public Health
Department of Epidemiology

EPID160/EPID600, Principles of Epidemiology for Public Health

Course objectives

EPID600 provides a general introduction to the approach, concepts, and perspectives of epidemiology for students and practitioners in a broad range of public health and related disciplines. The course is designed to assist students in achieving the Epidemiology competencies in the core Masters of Public Health (MPH) competencies developed by the ASPPH Education Committee (see After completing the course, students should be able to:

  • Explain the population perspective, access key sources of demographic and public health data for countries around the world, and describe the magnitude, population distribution, and time trends of public health problems in the U.S. and internationally.

  • Discuss, apply, and interpret basic epidemiologic concepts and measures of disease occurrence in populations: incidence, prevalence, relative risk, attributable risk, standardization.

  • Use basic methods for investigating an outbreak of a health problem in a community, making use of the concepts of disease variation in time, person and place.

  • Explain the relative strengths and limitations of epidemiological strategies (e.g., cohort, case-control, cross-sectional, ecological and intervention studies) for studying associations between risk factors or exposures in populations and rates of disease occurrence or death.

  • Identify the major sources of random and non-random error in community and multinational health studies and suggest strategies to reduce error.

  • Evaluate epidemiologic evidence by applying criteria for causal inference to information about an association between a population exposure and health outcome.

  • Use epidemiologic methods in evaluating effectiveness of public health intervention programs in varying geopolitical contexts.

  • Comprehend basic ethical and legal principles pertaining to the collection, maintenance, use and dissemination of epidemiologic data in different cultures.

  • Appreciate some of the complexities in applying scientific evidence on health and disease to the making of public policy in diverse societies.


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Updated 6/26/2009vs, 8/4/2009vs, 8/19/2010vs