Module lead: Sally Kerry
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This is a core module for the MSc global public health and policy, MSc, global health, law and governance, and MSc health systems and global policy.

This module introduces students to key epidemiological and statistical concepts and methods used in public health and policy making. Students will be expected to understand, define, and use incidence, prevalence, and mortality rates; understand the principles of standardisation and survival analysis; understand how to differentiate between association and causation and hypothesis generation and testing; and understand the principles of screening criteria. The module will also equip students to critically appraise quantitative research evidence underpinning policy interventions designed to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease and ameliorate inequalities in health through an understanding of research study designs and statistical techniques, including tests of significance and confidence intervals.

The module will include case studies to explore contemporary policy debates and the influence of quantitative research studies on public health and primary care policy and government intervention programmes. The advantages and disadvantages of different study designs and their application to different research questions will be covered. Students will gain skills in summarising quantitative data, including routine morbidity and mortality measures and interpreting the results of commonly used statistical techniques.

The module is intended to equip students for primary care and public health research, policy, and practice, and to enable them to engage in clinical policy debates around interventions designed to reduce social inequalities. They will be able to critically appraise the quality of research and clinical trials and will have the building blocks on which to build evidence based practice.


Identify appropriate data sources and apply a range of methods commonly used for summarising different types of quantitative data.
• Articulate the advantages and disadvantages of different study designs commonly encountered in public health and primary research.
• For a range of commonly encountered public health and primary care problems, identify the appropriate type of analysis depending on data type, study design, and research questions.
• Critically appraise research papers and interpret results in the light of this appraisal.
• Interpret data from a set of tables and write a report.
• Critically assess statistics and epidemiological data and data sources reported in the media and used by parliament.
• Use quantitative data confidently and competently.
• Use information from research studies for evidence based decision making.


Core text books
Statistics and study design
• Katz MH. Study Design and Statistical Analysis: A Practical Guide for Clinicians. (2006) Cambridge 2006
• Coggon D, Barker D, Rose G. Epidemiology for the uninitiated. 5th edition Wiley-Blackwell 2003. 4th edition available from
Critical appraisal
• Greenhalgh, T. How to read a paper. The basics of evidence based medicine. (2010) 4th edition Wiley Blackwell. Available from
For more information on the textbooks see “Module Information” on QMplus
Key papers
• McPherson K. Breast Cancer screening: balancing the debate BMJ 2010; 340 doi: 10.1136/bmj.c3106.
• Setel et al. Scandal of invisibility: making everyone count by being counted. The Lancet 2007;370(9598):1569-1577.
Additional textbooks
Statistics and study design
• Kirkwood BR & Sterne JAC (2003) Essential medical statistics. Blackwell (Oxford)


(i) presentation in week 7 (30%); 2 hour written exam (70%)