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MMB8009 : Clinical Epidemiology

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Mark Pearce
  • Lecturer: Dr Zainab Akhter, Mrs Nermine Basta, Dr Louise Reynard, Dr Emma Slack, Dr Svetlana Cherlin, Professor Linda Sharp
  • Owning School: Biomedical, Nutritional and Sports Scien
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


This module aims to provide the students with a sound theoretical and practical understanding of value, theoretical basis and practicalities of epidemiology and approaches to epidemiological research. Epidemiology concerns the investigation of distributions and causes of disease within populations. This module engages the students in thinking about the basic concepts of epidemiology and covers the basic epidemiology of cancer, children’s health and adult onset diseases, as well as how to investigate the potential impact of environmental, lifestyle and occupational exposures on the health of individuals. The emphasis of the course is on practical application – how can I set about answering a question about the health of individuals within an epidemiological framework? Throughout the course you will develop skills in critical appraisal by evaluating published research and the strengths and weaknesses of epidemiology itself. By the end of the course students will, with our help in small group tutorial work, have designed an epidemiological study of their choice and gained knowledge that will be provide a sound grounding if you undertake medical or biological research in the future. No previous experience of epidemiology is required as the module assumes no prior knowledge of epidemiological methods. The module is appropriate for all students accepted for the MRes, regardless of background.

Outline Of Syllabus

The syllabus includes:

Introductory lecture: What is it and what has epidemiology ever done for us?
Epidemiological Study Design – ecological, cross-sectional and cohort studies
Case-Control Studies
Measuring disease frequency – incidence, prevalence and mortality
Bias, confounding and mediation
Creating Information for use in epidemiology studies
Ethics and Legal issues in epidemiology
Lifecourse Epidemiology
Genetic and Epigenetic Epidemiology
Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology
Cancer Epidemiology
Molecular Epidemiology
Perinatal and Paediatric Epidemiology
Critical appraisal of epidemiology literature
Causation and interpretation
Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology
Developing hypotheses and planning studies (leading to the written assignment and related oral presentation)

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion160:0060:00Preparation and submission of study design assignment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture251:0025:00Present in person (PIP) lecture sessions
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching51:005:00Present in person PIP seminars with very small group seminars related to the study design assignment. Also includes the oral presentations
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity120:0020:00Additional Reading & Reflective Learning
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study125:0025:00Preparation of presentation
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study165:0065:00Preparing Notes from Lectures and Reading
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

An understanding of epidemiology is a key area in modern medical science. The majority of the course will be taught by lectures and seminars which is standard format, but also with some very small teaching. The knowledge gained and the skills developed in the lecture and seminars will enable the students to make a more informed approach to this subject, particularly in:

1. The fundamentals of epidemiological research.

2. The limitations of all studies.

3. The legal and ethical issues.

4. The role of epidemiological investigation in the study of disease.

5. The basic concepts of environmental and genetic epidemiology.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M80Written epidemiological study design- maximum word count 3000 words
Oral Presentation1M20Present in Person Oral Presentation on study design - 10 minutes per student with 5 minutes for questions
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Knowledge and understanding are assessed in the coursework. Key (transferable) skills are assessed by coursework.

The oral presentation will assess presentation, critical appraisal and planning skills, and will provide feedback aimed at improving presentation skills and also to assist with the summative coursework.

The written assignment will reinforce material supplied in lectures and help students practice written communication, critical appraisal and design understanding.

Reading Lists