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Non-communicable Diseases




Admissions requirements

Biology (either the LUC course or high school-level)


Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are responsible for the greatest burden of mortality and morbidity; the World Health Organisation (WHO) states that NCDs kill 41 million people each year. Almost 85% of deaths due to NCDs occur in low- and middle income countries. The most common NCDs are cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases as asthma and COPD and diabetes.

The emergence of NCDs is not only driven by aging but also by rapid and unplanned urbanization and globalisation of unhealthy lifestyles such as smoking, unhealthy diets, physical activity, as well as metabolic adaptations than can occur early in life.

This course will focus on determinants and physiological risk factors of the most common NCDs with the highest disease burden and impact. Also, the course will address the current paradigms and controversies in epidemiology, health systems and prevention policies.

Course objectives

Course aims:
During the course the students will learn about the etiology, risk factors, interventions and impact of NCDs. Each week one NCD will be applied as a central theme. During the first week we will start with an introduction to NCDs in general, followed by cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, asthma and COPD, cancer, and musculoskeletal and bone health. During the course you will choose a country which will play a central role in the assignments given over the course.

Course learning outcomes:
After this course students will be able to:

  • Describe the epidemiology and trends of non-communicable diseases

  • Distinguish determinants of non-communicable diseases at an individual and at a population level

  • Measure and analyze main determinants of non-communicable diseases (i.e. biomarkers, genetics, lifestyle)

  • Apply the life course approach to the etiology of non-communicable diseases

  • Explain socio-economic inequalities in the occurrence of non-communicable diseases.

  • Know pros and cons of different prevention, diagnostic and treatment programs for non-communicable diseases.


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

Mode of instruction

The course will consist of a mix of lectures, guest lectures, assignments, student presentations and discussions. The first session (Tuesday) in each week will be an introduction to the central theme, while in the second session (Thursday) a more interactive approach will be taken. The required readings and assignments in this syllabus can alter slightly; this will be announced on blackboard and during the sessions.

During the first week pairs of two students will choose a continent which will play a central role in their assignments and end presentation in the last week. Each student will choose a country within that
continent for the individual assignments and the final essay. This will be further explained during the first lecture on Tuesday the 5th of February.


There are two types of assignments . In week 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 all students are asked to hand in one PowerPoint slide about what impact the disease that plays a central role in that week has within their country of interest. These powerpoint slides can be used during that week’s lectures and should therefore be handed on time, see for specific deadlines in the weekly outline of the course in this syllabus.

Furthermore, in most weeks an additional assignment is given. The assignments can be found on blackboard and will be shortly introduced at the end of the introduction lectures. The assignments are the preparation for the second lecture on the same subject. In general all assignment products, whether it is an presentation or essay, follow the same basic structure of introduction, question or hypothesis, method, results, discussion and conclusion. Essays have to be turned in by the way of turnitin on blackboard.

  • In-class participation plus small weekly assignments 10%

  • Group assignment 15%

  • Short report and presentation in pairs, 20% and 15%.

  • Final essay 40%


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

Scientific articles are the base of this course. The articles are listed in the different sessions and will be available on blackboard or will be handed to you during the sessions. You will also have to find articles on your own within the different assignments.
Additionally, during the course we will use some chapters from the textbook Fundamentals of Anatomy & Physiology (Martini, Nath & Bartholomew, Global Edition, 10/E, 2015). Hand-outs will distributed and/or placed on blackboard.


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