autumn 2019
HEL-3006 Introduction to Epidemiology and Biostatistics - 10 ECTS

Last changed 04.02.2020

Application deadline

Applicants from Nordic countries: 1 June for the autumn semester.

Applicants from outside the Nordic countries: 15 April for the autumn semester.

Type of course

This course is mandatory for students at the Master's degree programme in Public Health. Course students may be admitted if the total number of students do not exceed the maximum number of 30.

Admission requirements

Admission criteria: The same as for the Master's programme in Public Health. See the programme page. Application Code: 9371 (Nordic applicants).

Course content

The course covers the basic principles and methods of epidemiology including measures of disease occurrence and disease risk in populations and various research designs for investigating the etiology of disease. Introduction to critical review of scientific papers is also included. A fundamental part of this course is biostatistics, where the students will be introduced to hypothesis testing and confidence intervals as well as commonly used methods in quantitative data analysis. The statistical software SPSS is also used.

Objectives of the course

Knowledge The students should be able to define central principles in epidemiology, including important concepts in demography, and be able to explain the benefits and drawbacks of various epidemiological study designs. The students should further be able to explain basic statistical concepts in univariate, bivariate and multiple analysis.

Skills and competences The students should be able to:

  • apply central concepts in epidemiology and demography
  • identify the study design used in scientific medical papers
  • select the correct type of epidemiological and statistical data analyses for a given data set
  • use descriptive measures, one- and two-sample tests (t-tests, chi-square tests and non-parametric tests), correlation and linear regression
  • use SPSS for data editing and statistical analyses
  • interpret the results from the statistical and epidemiological analyses, showing a basic understanding of relative and absolute risks, p-values and confidence intervals

Language of instruction


Teaching methods

There will be three gatherings lasting 4-5 days each. The course includes lectures, exercises and group work. Attendance to lectures and seminars is mandatory. The online learning management system Canvas is an important tool in this course.



Attendance to lectures and seminars is mandatory.

The students have to pass two written home assignments before they are allowed to take the exam. The assignments are individual exercises, and will be handed out between the 1st and 2nd session, and between the 2nd and 3rd session. The students will have two weeks to complete assignments, which will be graded as approved or not approved. The assignments should be handed in online.


The final exam consists of a six hours written university based digital exam. The exam will be held using computers through online exam module (if not otherwise stated). Students must pass the mandatory assignments before being eligible to take the exam. The assignments and the exam can be written in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English. For the exam - Grading scale: A-E equals passed, F equals failed.

If a student fails the course, an examination re-sit will be organised. Students with valid absence from the exam will be offered a re-scheduled examination.

  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 10
  • Course code: HEL-3006