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Epidemiology explores the patterns, causes and effects of diseases in groups of people.

Develop your skills in this area of health and discover what factors can protect people against disease.

Get an introduction to disease measurement at population level, and learn to design and appraise epidemiological studies.

Learn from leading applied health researchers at a university awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for 40 years of excellence in health services research. We have a distinguished track record in putting health research into practice and you’ll benefit from this unique expertise.

What will I study?

You’ll study the basic principles of epidemiology.

This includes an introduction to disease measurement at a population level and basic epidemiological study design and analysis.

You’ll explore:

  • causality and associations
  • measures of disease occurrence
  • different types of study design – and the pros and cons for each
  • populations
  • sampling
  • validity and reliability
  • sensitivity and specificity
  • bias and confounding
  • critical appraisal.

By the end of this course, you will…

  • Understand the concept of causation, how this differs at a population and individual level, and the difference between a ‘simple’ association and a ‘causal’ association.
  • Understand different methodological considerations in epidemiological investigations, including: validity, reliability, bias and confounding.
  • Appreciate the advantages and disadvantages of different epidemiological study designs, understand when to use them and the appropriate analytic approach in each case.
  • Understand different measures of disease occurrence.
  • Have developed skills in critical appraisal and interpretation of epidemiological research.

Why study Epidemiology online with Aberdeen?

How will I study?

Epidemiology is an 11-week course, delivered entirely online. You can study with us anywhere in the world and manage your study hours to suit you.

This course is taught at Masters level by experienced epidemiologists and researchers from our School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition, internationally recognised for its research excellence.

Your course is delivered through MyAberdeen, our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Also available as an app, you can access your learning materials on computer, smartphone and mobile device 24/7.

Your course features a range of resources, including:

  • short podcasts
  • online lectures
  • online tutorials
  • reading materials
  • the online resources of our award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library
  • discussion boards with classmates.

This course has weekly themes, with material released in three-week blocks to give you flexibility to suit your schedule. You’ll consolidate your learning from lectures with further reading, practical assignments, online discussions and homework assignments.

Where will this take me?

Epidemiology is part of a suite of Health courses that we offer online. These can be used to build up credits towards higher qualifications.

Find out more about credits.

Further learning

You’ll earn 15 credits at Masters level (SCQF Level 11) with this course. You can use these credits towards further study, including our:

See our full range of postgraduate Health degrees.


Developing your skills in this key area of public health, you’ll gain a strong career advantage as a researcher, health or related professional.

An epidemiology career can take you into roles in a research setting, focusing on populations as a whole, or as a clinical epidemiologist, concentrating on patients.

Your employer or professional institute may recognise this course for Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Talk to your employer or institute to find out more.

Course coordinator

Am I ready?

This course has no formal entry requirements. You decide if it’s suitable for you.

The course is delivered at Masters level. At this level, you’d usually have at least:

  • a 2:2 (second-class) degree
  • or relevant experience that supports this level of study.

Apply for this course

Start date
13 January 2020