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Introduction to epidemiology

He whakatakinga ki te mātauranga urutā

Friday 5 February 2021

Introduction to epidemiology will introduce you to the core concepts of epidemiology in a practical and accessible way. By the end of the day you will know key epidemiological terminology, be able to recognise the major study designs and their strengths and weaknesses and have experience reading and decoding journal abstracts.

Epidemiology is a core skill for many aspects of public health practice, but many people are put off by the image it has of being only about complicated numbers, statistics and formulae. This one day course seeks to dispel those myths and will help you understand the core concepts, uses and language of epidemiology in a relaxed and accessible way.

Topics covered 

  • To identify main epidemiological study types
  • Know the key features of the main study types and their strengths and weaknesses
  • Apply that knowledge to interpret research abstracts and to understand a real world epidemiological case study

Style of teaching

Small group - i.e. teaching and discussion in a group of up to 20 people

Who should attend?  

The course is a suitable introduction to epidemiology for anyone working in the health, health policy, health promotion and public health sectors whatever your prior knowledge and experience. It is a good course for those new to public health, or wanting a refresher, or who are considering further study in epidemiology or public health. The course will be limited to a maximum of 20 participants.

COVID-19 contingency plan

If COVID Alert Level restrictions prevent in-person/face-to-face delivery of this course, it will be delivered online the same day, and a credit of $100 given ($50 for those paying staff/student rate).

If the course is able to be delivered in person, but a participant cannot travel to Wellington due to COVID Alert Level restrictions, the course fee will be refunded in full.

Draft timetable

Time Session Presenter(s)
8:30am Registration
9am Epidemiology building blocks and dissecting an abstract Melissa McLeod and Caroline Shaw
10:30am Morning tea
11am Abstract activity 1 Melissa McLeod and Caroline Shaw
12:30pm Lunch break
1:30pm Abstract activity 2 Melissa McLeod and Caroline Shaw
3pm Afternoon tea
3:30pm Case study
Summary of course and evaluation
Melissa McLeod and Caroline Shaw
5pm Finish

Teaching staff  

Melissa McLeod (Ngāi Tahu) is a public health physician, epidemiologist and senior research fellow working in the Department of Public Health at the University of Otago, Wellington. Melissa’s research interests include Māori health, epidemiology and the investigation and elimination of ethnic health inequalities in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Caroline Shaw is a public health physician, epidemiologist and senior lecturer working in the Department of Public Health at the University of Otago, Wellington. Caroline’s research interests include climate change, population health and transport policy, with a particular focus on how we can move to an equitable, healthy low carbon transport system.

Melissa teaches epidemiology and Caroline teaches environmental health in the Diploma of Public Health course.

Course cost and registration

$300 early bird, $400 after Tuesday 22 December 2020.

A 50% discount is available to full-time students, those unwaged and University of Otago staff.

Note COVID-19 contingency plan above. Any questions please see FAQ page or email

Register now