Spring 2023 - HSCI 341 D100

Fundamental Epidemiological Concepts and Approaches (3)

Class Number: 5642

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    BLU 9011, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 13, 2023
    5:00 PM – 5:00 PM
    TAKE HOME-EXAM, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    HSCI 230, and STAT 201 or 203 or 205, all with a minimum grade of C-.



As a follow-up to HSCI 230, this course aims to build further literacy of fundamental epidemiological concepts and approaches, and skills to apply basic quantitative measures to describe and evaluate public health issues as well as communicate the magnitude and potential determinants of those issues.


This new course has been developed as part of the recent curriculum reform for the BSc Public Health and Data concentration. As the new curriculum is being established, students are going to be expected to enrol in HSCI 230, 341 and 410 in sequence. The course is intended for students who are going to learn basics of using RStudio for basic epidemiological analyses for the first time. 

Overall goal
The overall goal of this course is to enhance students’ population health data literacy and prepare them for HSCI 410.


At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Understand validity and ethical implications of commonly used population health data and use the data appropriately
  2. Apply some fundamental epidemiological concepts and tools to real-world population health issues
    • Illustrate potential causal relationships using a directed acyclic graph
    • Use RStudio for basic (mostly descriptive) epidemiological analyses
    • Identify, calculate and interpret appropriate measures of disease frequency and unadjusted disease effect using real-world data for a given purpose/context
  3. Discuss and apply potential approaches for evaluating causation
  4. Effectively communicate the magnitude and potential determinants of population health issues
    • Appropriately use key epidemiological terms for the academic audience
    • Summarize study results in plain language and an infographic for the lay audience


  • Assignments 25%
  • Midterm exam 25%
  • Group project 25%
  • Final exam 25%


The course instructor may make changes to the syllabus and grading strategies if necessary. Following the Faculty of Health Sciences grading policy for the undergraduate program, the median letter grade for students in the course will be a B or B+, and no more than 8% of students will receive an A+.



This course will require students to use RStudio and MSExcel. A computer lab (BLU 11660) is also reserved for this course's class hours for students who do not have laptop computers.


Textbook (eBook): Webb P, Bain C, Page A. Essential Epidemiology (Enhanced Edition): An Introduction for Students and Health Professionals. Fourth edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2020.

Students are recommened to use the Enhanced Edition (not Regular Edition) that contains additional practice questions. Some of the questions in the exam will resemble them.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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