Fall 2020 - HSCI 484 D100

Senior Seminar in Population Health Research (3)

Class Number: 6327

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 8:30 AM – 11:20 AM

  • Prerequisites:

    90 units, including HSCI 330 and either STAT 302 or STAT 305.



Scientific research in population health. Developing and evaluating research protocols, taking a general research question and turning it into an analysis plan, carrying out the analysis, and writing up the findings for presentation and publication.


Population health researchers are interested in improving the health of the entire population and reducing inequities among population groups.  This course will introduce students to research design, methods, analysis and reporting.  Over the term, we will explore the broader impacts of population health research and critique traditional study designs in different contexts.  Cases will be discussed with examples drawn from the current literature and students will evaluate the validity and representativeness of different data sources as health systems undergo digital transformation and become more patient-centered. Students will have opportunities to differentiate the strengths and weaknesses of population health research methods in individual and small team-based assignments, including practice with peer review, facilitating group discussions and delivering group presentations.


The educational goals of this course are to prepare students to examine contemporary population health research and identify ways to strengthen research design and implementation strategies that lead to positive changes in population health.   

By fulfilling the course requirements students will be prepared to: 

  1. Examine the strengths and weaknesses of classical population health research design such as randomized controlled trials and single arm study design, in relation to published results and implementation challenges
  2. Differentiate the purpose of frameworks for evaluation of research and identify potential sources of data discrimination and how this influences health inequalities
  3. Explore how new trends such as digital health, patient-partnering and interdisciplinary collaborations are influencing research practices in academic, clinical, and community-based settings
  4. Communicate ways to design research to improve the equity and uptake of research results


  • Individual written assignment 20%
  • Group presentations 15%
  • Graphic or written assignment 20%
  • Final Paper 30%
  • Participation and citizenship in group work and class discussions 15%


The course is an interactive seminar class delivered synchronously online each week; in virtual classroom-based settings and small breakout group meetings.  One week prior to each class, students will be able to download and watch video lectures that introduce the syllabus topics and prepare for the interactive discussions. Students will collaborate with their peers to lead group discussions, undertake research review exercises, and deliver group presentations. Throughout the term students will engage deeply with assigned reading materials and contribute to the learning of others.  Students will be given the opportunity to communicate the knowledge they have gained through individual written assignments.




Peer-reviewed articles from the current literature will be assigned and distributed two weeks prior to each class.  Students are expected to complete the assigned reading before each class and come prepared to discuss the materials. 


Public Health Research Methods (2015); Greg Guest and Emily Namey (Editors), available electronically via the SFU libraryISBN: 9781452241333

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).