Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Applied Epidemiology

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Public Health

DESCRIPTION Based on Adult Learning and problem based learning techniques.

Covering aspects of the following topics:

Epidemiological paradigms: programming, life-course, and adult risk factor approaches.

Epidemiology of specific diseases (and their risk factors) of public health significance: knowledge of the defining clinical features, distribution, causes, behavioural features and determinants of diseases which currently make a significant impact on the health of local populations, with particular reference to those that are potentially preventable, or require the planned provision of health services at individual, community and structural levels, or are otherwise of particular public concern, for example mental health.

Diagnosis and Screening: principles, methods, applications and organisation of screening for early detection, prevention, treatment and control of disease; statistical aspects of screening tests, including knowledge of and ability to calculate, sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values, and the use of ROC curves; differences between screening and - diagnostic tests, case finding; likelihood ratios; pre and post test probability; ethical economic, legal and social aspects of screening; the principles of informed choice; planning, operation and evaluation of screening programmes; the evidence basis needed for developing screening policies and implementing screening programmes, including established programmes such as breast and cervix and those currently in development, being piloted or subject to major research activity, current examples (amongst others) being colon cancer, chlamydia screening and certain antenatal / neonatal screening tests; ethical, social and legal implications of a genetic screening test.

Genetics: elementary human genetics; inherited causes of disease in populations; basic genomic concepts including patterns of inheritance, penetrance, genotype/phenotype differences, polygenetic disorders, gene-environment interactions and the role of genes in health and disease; ætiology, distribution and control of disease in relatives; elementary molecular biology as related to genetic epidemiology and microbiology.

Study-unit Aims:

To develop practical skills in epidemiology including:

- searching out and obtaining access to sources of data;
- conducting interviews;
- conducting literature searches;
- summarising research papers;
- solving epidemiological problems with statistical methodologies;
- presenting a paper or discussion to an audience of peers;
- conducting a lecture in epidemiology;
- conducting various stages of an epidemiological study including making a request for a grant application.
- To learn more about screening and genetics in relation to epidemiology of certain diseases.

Learning Outcomes

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Understand the role of epidemiology in evaluating and formulating the evidence base for public health policy;
- Understand the use of the various epidemiological techniques;
- Understand how to seek out solutions to problems encountered in epidemiology studies;
- Know how to seek out sources for a serious literature review;
- Learn more about the local and international context of the epidemiology of several diseases and the services in place for their needs;
- Understand the genetic determinants of certain diseases;
- Understand the methodology, implications and evaluation of screening for certain diseases.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Conduct a literature review;
- Summarise an epidemilogical paper;
- Make a report based on various epidemiological sources;
- Present such a report in writing and through presentations and discussions;
- Make a critique and discuss opinions based on epidemiological findings;
- Prepare and submit a grant application;
- Have an advanced knowledge and understanding of key concepts and methods in epidemiology and how they are applied in epidemiological and public health research;
- Have hands-on experience of applying epidemiological and statistical methods in the analysis of routine datasets;
- Develop skills in critical appraisal of evidence presented in epidemiological research, and the ability to interpret and apply this information.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

- European Health Interview Survey 2008 (Malta) - Summary Statistics (Ministry for Social Policy 2009).
- European Health Interview Survey 2008 (Malta) - Utilisation of Health Care Services (Ministry for Social Policy 2009).
- Documents at Web site of the Public Health Regulation Division at
- other material distributed during attachment.
- Annual Mortality Reports . Malta 1990-008 (Ministry of Health and Social Policy).
- Epidemiology in Medical Practice Barker, Rose and cooper. 5th edition.
- Various internet, Medline and local reports published recently.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Discussion, Lecture, Practical & Presentation

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Examination (2 Hours) SEM1 Yes 50%
Presentation SEM1 Yes 50%

LECTURER/S Joseph Borg
Neville Calleja
Roberto Debono
Beatrice Farrugia
Victor Grech
Julian Mamo

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2021/2. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.