A core task of epidemiology is to understand what causes adverse health outcomes and ‘what works’ to improve population health. This course takes an in-depth look at the core public health discipline of epidemiology, with a focus on causal inference. It has been designed to help you develop essential knowledge and skills in quantitative public health research that are directly relevant to everyday decision-making in policy and practice, as well as designing and implementing epidemiological research.

This course is an elective course for all students enrolled in the School's programs and is a stream-defining course for students enrolled in the Epidemiology specialisation of the Master of Public Health. It comprises 6 units of credit (UOC) towards the total required for completion of the study program.

Mode of study

External (Distance) and Internal (Face-to-Face) classes on campus

Key contact

Who should do this course?

A prerequisite to enrol in this course is successful completion of PHCM9794 Foundations of Epidemiology or PHCM9498 Epidemiology and Statistics in Public Health. Students who have achieved a credit in the epidemiological components of these courses will be well prepared to explore the concepts covered in the Advanced Epidemiology course.

Course outcomes

The aim of this course is to enable you to apply and critically evaluate the use of epidemiological methods for causal inference, which is relevant to public health policy and practice decision-making and the design, conduct and reporting of epidemiological research to inform and evaluate public health policy and practice.

On completion of this course, you will be able to: 

  • identify and ask causal inference questions relevant to public health policy and practice
  • identify when randomised and observational studies are appropriate to answer causal questions in public health
  • describe methods to minimise bias and confounding in epidemiological studies focused on causal questions
  • apply methods relevant to the estimate of causal effects in epidemiological studies, and report and interpret results for public health policy and practice
  • critically review epidemiological research addressing causal questions, considering the implications for public health policy and practice.

Learning & teaching

The approach to learning and teaching in this course is based on adult learning principles. When we introduce new material, we expect you as postgraduate students to integrate prior knowledge with new concepts. The best way to learn new concepts and methods taught in the course is for you to listen to the pre-recorded lectures available on Moodle, complete the required readings, and complete learning activities and assessment tasks that reflect the learning objectives of the course.


Assessment 1 – Quizzes
Weighting: 20%

Assessment 2 – Assignment: Short and/or long answer questions
Weighting: 30%

Assessment 3 – Assignment: Short and/or long answer questions
Weighting: 50%

Readings & resources 

Learning resources for this course consist of the following:

  • lecture slides
  • lecture recordings
  • supplementary resources such as videos, podcasts and articles
  • recommended readings.

Recommended readings

A core task in epidemiology includes staying up-to-date with advances in epidemiological methods and approaches published in the literature. The course utilises a range of resources, including textbooks and academic journal articles, to equip students with knowledge and resources that will facilitate lifelong learning of epidemiological methods and advances beyond the classroom. 

The following textbooks are relevant to some or all of the content covered in this course; however, reading lists will be provided for each Module.