Jump to: Overview | Why Aberdeen? | What You'll Study | How You'll Study | Assessment | Entry Requirements

A short online course giving you an introduction to disease measurement and an understanding of key methodological issues to be applied when designing or appraising an epidemiological study.

Learn from leading applied health researchers at Aberdeen's School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition, internationally recognised for research excellence.


This course in applied epidemiology gives an introduction to disease measurement at a population level, basic epidemiological study design and analysis, and provides an understanding of key methodological issues needed to apply when designing - or critically appraising - an epidemiological study.

Why Aberdeen for this course?

The combination of international profile, long experience, breadth of expertise and track record in research and teaching plus our close links with the NHS on the Foresterhill health campus makes Aberdeen the obvious provider of first-class education in all areas of health.

Aberdeen’s research in Public Health was rated top in Scotland in the most recent national Research Excellence Framework (2014) which assesses research strength across UK universities.

Our dedicated research groups, located within the University’s Institute of Applied Health Sciences, conducts world-class epidemiology research with local, national and international collaborations to inform future work on the prevention of disease and its clinical management.

You can study this credit-bearing online short course standalone, or as a taster to continue your professional development with a PgCert, PgDip, and perhaps progress to a full online Masters programme from our popular portfolio of topics in Applied Health.

What you'll study

The aim of this course is to introduce students to the basic principles of epidemiology. Teaching and learning for this course will involve a combination of online lectures, practical assignments, self-study, discussion boards, assignments and tutorials.

By the end of the course you will

  • Understand the concept of causation; how this differs at a population, versus individual, level; and the difference between a ‘simple’ association and a ‘causal’ association
  • Understand different measures of disease occurrence
  • 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 methodological considerations in epidemiological investigations, including: validity, reliability, bias and confounding
  • Have developed skills in critical appraisal and interpretation of epidemiological research

How you'll study

This online, 12-week distance-learning short course offers all the flexibility and convenience to study when, where and how you choose, and to fit your learning around your location, employment and personal commitments.

Our online courses are delivered through our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) as self-contained units of learning taught and assessed to the same quality as our degree programmes, and developed specifically for an online audience using a range of learning materials and assessment activities.

We aim to create an online classroom and student community which enables you to enjoy the same learning experience as students on our full degree programmes, including access to a suite of learning resources and support.

This course has weekly themes, with material released in three-week blocks to give you flexibility to suit your schedule. Each theme mixes short podcasts with a range of other activities including multiple-choice questions, short exercises and discussion boards.

Our first-class support structure will ensure that you are not alone in your study. Contact with your course tutors may be by email, Skype through the virtual classroom or discussion board, and you can use social media and the discussion boards to talk to your fellow students wherever they are.

Wherever you are in the world, as you enjoy the convenience of online distance study, you will still feel part of our very special Aberdeen learning community.


Our online courses are delivered through an online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and have been developed specifically for an online audience using a range of learning materials and assessment activities.

There are a number of short assessments, with specific deadlines but they can be done in advance to suit your commitments. These included multiple choice, short answer and a data analysis exercise.

Entry Requirements

Applicants will usually need to possess a health-related honours degree (at a second class level or at least 60% or GPA – 3/5; 2.4/4; 6/10 OR equivalent). You will also require reliable internet access. Please check the In My Country pages to find out if your degree is equivalent.

In exceptional circumstances applicants without this qualification may be admitted at the discretion of the course coordinator subject to having an alternative qualification, or an approved level of experience, appropriate to the field of study.

All students entering the University, including online courses, must provide evidence that they can use English well enough to study our programmes effectively. Details of our English language entry requirements can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages. For details of our pre-sessional English courses see our Language Centre website.