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Study Design


Admission requirements


If you are not enrolled in the MSc programme Population Health Management but you consider taking this course as an elective, please contact our study advisor.


Population Health Management (PHM), Study Design, aims to improve basic insights and first hands-on experiences in epidemiology and statistical methods needed to embark on evidence-based risk assessment, empanelment and prediction. For example study designs, comparative measures, causes and predictors will be discussed in this course. We will use various case-studies to explore, demonstrate and exercise. We will discuss fundamental questions, such as: If you do a research study, what design should you use? Are you looking for causes or predictors, and what is exactly the difference? How should you compare groups, and how do you express and quantify the difference? What should you do if one group is older, or the other has more men, or has a various ethnic background? How do you know if there is bias? How do you make a Kaplan-Meier survival curve and how do you interpret it? These are all pertinent questions that you must ask before you are going to design a study. In this course you learn how you put this into practice and how you write scientific abstracts, a research proposal, and a Critically Appraised Topic (CAT).

Course objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, the student should be able to recognizes different study designs and know which study design to apply to answer a specific research question. Furthermore, the student:

  • is familiar with frequency and effect measures in clinical research;

  • can apply the basic statistical methods for survival analyses and standardization;

  • recognizes the epidemiological concepts of bias, confounding and misclassification;

  • can distinguish aetiological from prediction research


All course and group schedules are published on MyTimeTable.

The exam dates have been determined by the Education Board and are published in MyTimeTable.
It will be announced in MyTimeTable and/or Brightspace when and how the post-exam feedback will be organized.

Mode of instruction

Lecture, research, online education, group work

Assessment method

Students are assessed according to the following three obligatory components:

Week 1-2 – Online: Peer review assessment (20%, no required minimum grade)

Week 3 – On Campus: Group presentation (30%, no required minimum grade)

Week 4 – Final week: Final assignment (50%, required minimum grade: 6,0)

All components combined make up the final grade for the course. It is compulsory to participate in each of the components in order to receive a grade.
Details on the assessment can be found in the assessment plan on Brightspace.

A final grade of 6,0 minimum is considered sufficient. If the result is less than 6,0 or if the student did not participate in one of the components, the student is given the opportunity to retake the assessment as one assignment that covers all the learning goals of the course.

Final grades between 5,0 and 6,0 will be rounded:

  • 5,0-5,4 → 5,0

  • 5,5-6,0 → 6,0

Reading list

The reading list can be found on Brightspace. The material consists of presentations and pdf files. There is no need to purchase literature.


Registration must be completed via MyStudyMap. Registration in MyStudyMap gives you automatic access to the course in Brightspace. For more information, please visit the Leiden University website for students.


Rutger Middelburg -


This course is a combination of online education and on campus education at the Leiden University Health Campus in The Hague.