nl en

Introduction to Epidemiology


Admission requirements

Required course(s):

None, but succesful completion of at least one of the 100-level Global Public Health courses is strongly recommended.


Epidemiology is the study of how often diseases occur in specific populations and why. Epidemiological research is the cornerstone of public health. Epidemiological evidence provides the foundation for public health measures, aimed at reducing disease burden in specific populations.

This course will introduce you to basic methods and study designs in epidemiology. By using examples, 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 be able to:

  • Formulate a good epidemiological research question.

  • Describe basic frequency measures and measures of association used in epidemiology.

  • Describe the study designs used in epidemiology and indicate the major advantages and disadvantages of the different study designs.

  • Describe different forms of bias, including confounding.

  • Recognize and explain simple epidemiological analysis methods and effect modification.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2023-2024 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

  • Class meetings

  • Online lectures

  • Readings

  • Preparatory exercises

Assessment Method

  • Individual assignments (In class participation (15%, ongoing) systematic review (15%, due week 5))

  • Group assignment: design a study (presentation and discussion (15%, due week 6); written report (15%; due week 7))

  • Final written exam (open and multiple-choice questions (40%, due week 8))

Reading list

Kenneth J. Rothman. Epidemiology: An Introduction. 2nd revised edition. Oxford University Press Inc., Oxford, United Kingdom.


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 Rutger A Middelburg,