Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

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Monash University Handbook 2011 Undergraduate - Unit

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.

FacultyFaculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences
OfferedCaulfield First semester 2011 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Dr Catherine Joyce


This unit provides an introduction to epidemiological and statistical concepts necessary
for understanding patterns of health and disease in populations. It extends the overview
provided in HSC1061, reviews how health and disease are measured, and covers how
patterns of health and disease in populations are investigated, including study designs and
basic statistical methods for analyzing health data. Students are introduced to different
study designs and to the concepts of bias and confounding.
An integrated, case-study approach is taken in which epidemiological and biostatistical
concepts are applied to the same case studies. Case studies include local, national and
global examples of epidemiological research, including Australian Indigenous health
issues and global health inequalities.


On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  1. Critically analyse the strengths and weaknesses of different epidemiological study
  1. Critically appraise the popular and biomedical literature on population health
  2. Discuss the impact of epidemics and outbreaks on populations
  3. Discuss the concepts of diagnostic and screening tests, and how they are applied to populations
  4. Identify fundamental ethical considerations that underpin health research
  5. Identify the importance of statistical methods in the design, analysis and presentation
of the results of research studies in health and biomedicine, and in reports of healthrelated matters in general
  1. Explain basic statistical methods and when to apply them, and be able to perform
basic statistical analyses
  1. Interpret statistical results presented in the biomedical literature and other media, and convey the interpretation in simple language.
  2. Identify different approaches to the nature of 'evidence' in public health and the
implications of such approaches for measurement of health and well being of
Indigenous Australians and other population groups.


Written assignments (2) 30%
Group presentation 15%
In-class biostatistics exercises 15%
Exam 40%

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Catherine Joyce

Contact hours

3 contact hours per week plus 9 hours per week private study





Additional information on this unit is available from the faculty at: