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Introduction to Epidemiology & Global Public Health


Admission requirements

None. Interest in the subject and an inquisitive open minded approach are required. Since part of the assignments are group projects, collaboration ability and willingness to give and receive feedback is appreciated.


Epidemiology is the study of how often diseases occur in specific populations and why. Epidemiological research is the cornerstone of public health and its information can be used to plan and evaluate strategies to control or prevent health problems on a global level.

This course will introduce the students to basic methods and designs in epidemiology and global public health. The prevalence, incidence and main determinants of major communicable (i.e. malaria and HIV) and non-communicable diseases (i.e. cancer and cardiometabolic diseases) will be addressed. By using examples of these major global public health challenges, this course teaches different study designs used in epidemiology and public health research such as case-control studies, cohort studies, randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews. Also, basic epidemiological and public health measures of associations will be discussed as well as potential biases and internal and external validity of epidemiological findings.

Course Objectives

At the end of this course, students will:


  • Know the prevalence, incidence and main determinants of common communicable and non-communicable diseases.

  • Recognize study designs used in epidemiology and global public health

  • Know the difference between internal and external validity.


  • Understand basic measures (incidence, prevalence and measures of association) used in epidemiology and global public health

  • Be able to recognize selection bias, information bias, confounding and effect modification and indicate the major pros and cons of the various study design

  • Select the most suitable study design to address a specific research question.

  • Work together in a team

  • Present ideas using different modes of communication (in writing and via presentations)


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2020-2021 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

Online Lectures
Journal clubs
Case studies and exercises
LUC science lab
Group assignment and presentations

Assessment Method


Reading list

Compulsory literature:

  • Webb P, Bain C. Essential Epidemiology: An Introduction for Students and Health Professionals. 2nd or 3rd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Skolnik R. Global Health 101. Jones and Bartlett Publishers. 2015.

  • Chapter 3: The Nuremberg code (1947):

  • The Belmont Report (1979):

Journal clubs (links on Brightspace):

Observational studies – Case control/cross-sectional

  • Nguyen et al. Lifestyle and diet in relation to risk of type 2 diabetes in Vietnam: a hospital-based case-control study. Springer Open 2016; 5:687.

Observational studies – Cohorts:

  • Smart et al. Malaria and HIV among pediatric inpatients in two Tanzanian referral hospitals: A prospective study. Acta Tropica 2016; 159: 36-43

Intervention studies:

  • Hanao-Restrepo AM et al. Efficacy and effectiveness of an rVSV-vectored vaccine expressing Ebola surface glycoprotein: interim results from the Guinea ring vaccination cluster-randomised trial. Lancet. 2015; 386(9996): 857-66.

  • Estruch et al. Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a Mediterranean diet. N Eng J Med 2013; 368(14): 1279-1290.

Systematic reviews:

  • Houweling et al. Socioeconomic inequalities in neglected tropical diseases: a systematic review. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases; 2016: 1-28.

Preparation reading for LUC science lab (Links on Brigthspace):

  • Pickering TG et al. Recommendations for blood pressure measurement in humans and experimental animals. Circulation 2005; 111: 697 – 716.

  • World Health Organization. Basic Malaria Microscopy: part1. Learner’s guide. 2nd edition. 2010.

Press releases:

  • How dangerous is a bacon sandwich:

  • Does dairy cause breast cancer?

  • News item on diabetes and global warming :


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. Helen Silvius,