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Infectious Diseases


Admission requirements



In this course you will learn the microbiological and medical background of the major infectious diseases that constitute a serious global burden of disease. After this course you can better understand the requirements that are essential to limit the spread of these infections. Furthermore, you will get a glimpse of the broad spectrum of factors and players that define global health nowadays. Through guest lectures and interactive activities you will learn to look beyond the single entity of one diseases and understand the complexity of disease control and interventions. Finally, you will be stimulated to critically reflect on the global efforts to contain the spread of these infections.

Course Objectives

  • To know which major pathogens nowadays impact the health of millions.

  • To understand some aspects of the vast global inequalities in life expectancy and infectious disease burden, and numerous factors that influence global health.

More specifically:

  • You will have a basic understanding of the major infectious diseases related to microbiological characteristics of the associated pathogens (biological aspects of bacteria, viruses and parasites)

  • You will understand and apply the terminology and basic facts of transmission (e.g. reservoir, transmission route, infectious dose, incubation period, basic reproduction number, critical vaccination threshold)

  • You will know different methods of prevention (non-pharmaceutical interventions, vaccination), killing these pathogens (antibiotics, antivirals) or mitigating their effect on the human body (e.g. rehydration, supplements) or eradication of the vectors (e.g. by killing mosquitos)

  • You will understand how climate change affects the spread of vectors and potential for new pandemic or epidemic diseases

  • You will understand the different disease manifestations (i.e. symptoms like cough or diarrhea) associated with the major bacterial, viral and parasitic pathogens in the human host

  • You will have basic knowledge on diagnosis, treatment and prevention of infectious diseases

  • You will explore the social dimension of health interventions and the role of social media in conspiracy theories

  • You will enjoy a workshop on negotiation skills in global health

  • You will understand how insight in epidemiology, transmission, treatment and prevention has shaped concepts on the design of the most optimal health care infrastructure (e.g. empiric treatment or only basic diagnostic methods in primary care for most common infectious diseases versus sophisticated, expensive diagnostic tools in hospitals)

  • You will learn how disease burden, pathogen, diagnostics and potential interventions define the design of disease control programs


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2021-2022 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

During the 8-week course, several major pathogens or infectious disease categories will be discussed in detail through structured classes and assignments. Next to a disease-focused approach, you will be stimulated to study which functional requirements for healthcare infrastructure are essential to help contain and reduce morbidity and mortality associated with these infectious diseases. For example, cheap diagnostic tools such as rapid malaria tests are needed to distinguish malaria from other febrile diseases. Also, you will explore structural components of healthcare that are instrumental to limit the spread of diseases, such as childhood vaccination as part of public health care. In addition, there will be classes focused on industry perspectives, social media, climate change, antimicrobial resistance and exercises illustrating the complexity of infectious disease control. Most lectures will be given by guest lecturers, who are experts in their field and will provide the most up-to-date knowledge on the topic.

Assessment Method

You will be expected to demonstrate that you have mastered the content of this course by
1. your active participation in the discussions during this course
2. your (group) assignments
3. your (group) presentations

Reading list

Below a selection from the reading list
1. HIV: “How AIDS invented global health”, Brandt AM, NEJM 2013;368:2149. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1305297
2. Tuberculosis: “Tuberculosis’. Lancet 2019;393;1642-1656. DOI: S0140-6736(19)30308-3
3. Malaria: “The path to eradication: a progress report on the malaria-eliminating countries”, Feachem RG et al, Lancet 2016;387:1775DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(16)00230-0
4. The role of social media: “Antivaccine forces gaining online”. Science 2020;368:699. Wadman M. DOI: 10.1126/science.368.6492.699
5. Tools from cognitive psychology to build support for childhood vaccination: “Going with the grain of cognition: applying insights from cognitive psychology to build support for childhood vaccination. Rossen et al. Frontiers of Psychology 2016;7:1483. DOI: ttps://
6. Neglected diseases/Emerging infectious diseases: Global burden, distribution, and interventions for infectious diseases of poverty. Bhutta ZA et al. Infect Dis Poverty 2014;3:21 31;3:21 DOI:
7. Antimicrobial Resistance: “Tackling Drug-Resistant Infections Globally – Final report and recommendations”.
8. Climate change: “Climate Change: the Role of the Infectious Diseases Community”. Lancet Infect Dis 2017;12:1219 DOI:
9. COVID-19. Navigation through the uncharted - the very beginning: “A Novel Coronavirus Emerging in China — Key Questions for Impact Assessment. NEJM 2020;382:693. Munster VJ et al.”


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,