EPM5003 - Principles of statistical inference - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Postgraduate - Unit

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


Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Organisational Unit

Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine


Associate Professor Patrick Kelly

Unit guides


Alfred Hospital


The unit will introduce the core concepts of statistical inference, beginning with estimators, confidence intervals, type I and II errors and p-values. The emphasis will be on the practical interpretation of these concepts in biostatistical contexts, including an emphasis on the difference between statistical and practical significance. Classical estimation theory, bias and efficiency. Likelihood function, likelihood based methodology, maximum likelihood estimation and inference based on likelihood ration, Wald and score test procedures. Bayesian approach to statistical inference vs classical frequentist approach. Nonparametric procedures, exact inference and resampling based methodology.


Upon successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

  1. Have a deeper understanding of fundamental concepts in statistical inference and their practical interpretation and importance in biostatistical contexts.
  2. Understand the theoretical basis for frequentists and Bayesian approaches to statistical inference.
  3. Be able to develop and apply parametric methods of inference, with particular reference to problems of relevance in biostatistical contexts.
  4. Have the theoretical basis to understand the justification for more complex statistical procedures introduced in subsequent units.
  5. Have an understanding of basic alternatives to standard likelihood-based methods, and be able to identify situations in which these methods are useful.


  • 2 x Written assignments (35% each)
  • Practical exercises (30%)

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study



This unit is only available to students enrolled in the Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma or Masters of Biostatistics.

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