nl en

Introduction to Epidemiology and Global Public Health




Admissions requirements

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)


Once available, timetables will be published in the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

  • Online Lectures

  • Journal clubs

  • Case studies and exercises

  • LUC science lab

  • Group assignment and presentations.
    This course will follow a flipped classroom concept, this means that part of the theory will be provided by online lectures ( and interactive assignments, case studies and journal clubs will be provided in class.
    Additionally the course includes a group assignment in which students need to design their own study to address a specific research question (the research question will be provided by the course instructor).


  • In class participation and active participation during journal club, case studies and public health game (10%): weeks 1-7

  • Individual part of group assignment: epidemiology, literature and scientific gap(15%): week 4

  • Class debate and individual assignment on ethics and public health (20%): week 5

  • Group assignment: presentation and discussion (15%): week 6

  • Group assignment: written proposal of designed study (15%): week 7

  • Final written exam (25%): week 8

Please note:

  • In accordance with article 4.8 of the Course and Examination Regulations (OER), within 30 days after the publication of grades, the instructor will provide students the opportunity to inspect their exams/coursework.

  • There is a no re-sit policy at Leiden University College.


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Compulsory literature: (Available through or
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 Blackboard/Inhoud):
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 Blackboard/Information):

  • 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 :


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact



Additional regulations
Further details about the grading policy and the assignments are described in Appendix I and II of the course syllabus.
Students must submit all graded assignments to be able to pass the course. Penalty for late work is a zero on the assignment. In extraordinary circumstances (eg. family or medical emergencies) extension can be granted. Please contact your tutor if this is the case.
Note that if a student misses a class (max. 15%), the lecturer needs to be contacted beforehand. Please see Appendix III for more information. Use of laptops and mobile phones in class are only allowed when indicated by the lecturer (eg. during specific assignments). For the written assignments the LUC honor code applies. Please refer to your Student Handbook for more information about the honor code and plagiarism penalties.