PUBH2203 Foundations of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 core unit in the Population Health major sequence
  • Level 2 complementary unit in the Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing major sequence
  • The area of knowledge for this unit is Life and Health Sciences
  • Category B broadening unit for students
  • Level 2 elective
This unit introduces students to the use of epidemiology and biostatistics as tools in understanding health. The main epidemiological research designs and related statistical analyses are described and evaluated. Discussion focuses on how health and disease are measured and compared across populations and how researchers measure associations between exposures and health outcomes. Analytical skills are developed using statistical computer software (SPSS) for analysis of research data as well as the critical appraisal of epidemiological studies, which incorporates understanding of the roles of bias, chance and confounding in interpreting study results. The implications of epidemiologic research findings for public policy are also illustrated.
Students are able to (1) explain how research questions are developed from clinical observations, current knowledge and reflection; (2) describe the basic statistical concepts of estimation and hypothesis testing; (3) calculate, interpret and compare measures of health and disease frequency; (4) summarise and present data relevant to epidemiological research; (5) interpret commonly used statistical analyses of epidemiological studies; (6) describe the major types of epidemiological study design; (7) describe the process and limitations of causal inference; and (8) appraise the strengths and weaknesses of epidemiological studies.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) an assignment; (2) short online quizzes; and (3) preparation and participation in tutorial and class activities. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Professor Jane Heyworth
Unit rules
for student enrolled in Population Helath Major (MJD-PPHLT)
all students other than those enrolled in the Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing major: one of the following; PUBH1101 Health and Illness in Human Populations
PUBH1102 Health and Globalisation
ANHB1101 Human Biology I: Becoming Human
ANHB1102 Human Biology II: Being Human
ANTH1001 Being Human: Culture, Identity and Society
ANTH1002 Global Change, Local Responses
PUBH2209 Plagues, Pox and Pandemics
SCOM1101: Communicating Science
BIOL1130: Frontiers in Biology
BIOL1131: Plant and Animal Biology;

for students enrolled in the Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing major MJD-ABHWB: either (INDG1150 Aboriginal Encounters: Strangers in our Backyard
INDG1160 Boodjar Moort Katatjin: Introduction to Indigenous Heritage and Knowledge),
AHEA2201 Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing;
Advisable prior study:
knowledge of basic algebra, familiarity with hand-held calculators and familiarity with computing in the Windows environment
IMED2003 Essentials of Research in the Health and Medical Sciences
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hours per week; tutorials: 2 hours per week

Gordis, L. Epidemiology, 5th edn: Saunders Elsevier 2014

  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available via the Booktopia Textbook Finder, which has the functionality to search by course code, course, ISBN and title, and may also be posted or available at the appropriate school's administrative offices. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.