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Unit information: Health protection: infectious disease epidemiology and control in 2020/21

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Unit name Health protection: infectious disease epidemiology and control
Unit code BRMSM0003
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Peter Vickerman
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Medical School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences


This unit aims to equip you with an understanding of the fundamental concepts in the epidemiology and control of infectious diseases. You will gain knowledge of infectious diseases of public health importance and how surveillance is critical for health protection. Through lectures and problem-based learning exercises you will learn methods for infectious disease control, including outbreak investigation, and understand the current and possible future threats in this area. You will learn about techniques for the analysis of infectious disease data, including statistical methods and mathematical modelling. You will be considering communicable diseases and their control in Europe and globally, as well as in the UK.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit students will be able to

  1. Describe key infectious disease epidemiological concepts and the epidemiology of diseases of public health significance including vaccine preventable diseases, respiratory infection, sexually transmitted infections, and gastrointestinal infections
  2. Explain the principles, use and role of surveillance in health protection, both in the UK and abroad, including microbiological techniques for pathogen detection
  3. Describe infectious disease control though immunisation, critically evaluate different potential vaccination strategies and explain how mathematical modelling of infectious diseases can inform vaccine policy decision making
  4. Summarise the steps and management of outbreak investigations, appraise measures used for outbreak control and apply statistical and epidemiological methods to describe an outbreak and identify risk factors associated with illness
  5. Discuss current and future challenges in the field of communicable disease both in the UK and globally, including antimicrobial resistance, emerging infectious diseases, pandemics and the health needs of displaced people

Teaching details

There will be 10 teaching weeks. Teaching will include learning activities set by the tutor including lectures (synchronous and asynchronous), small group work, discussions, individual tasks, and practical activities (face to face or online).

Directed and self-directed learning will include activities such as reading, accessing web-based supplementary materials, critical analysis, and completion of assessments.

Assessment Details

Student learning will be supported through the use of informal assessments built into all sessions and will include approaches such as the use of exercises, interactive quizzes/multiple choice questions, feedback from discussion and strategic questioning.

Summative assessments: Summative assessments are coursework based. During the unit, coursework of 3 short-answer questions will contribute 30% to the final unit mark (ILOs 1-3). At the end of the unit, coursework of 4 short answer questions will contribute 70% of the final unit mark (ILOs 1-5).

An overall score of 50% will be required to pass the unit.

Reading and References

Essential reading

  1. Hawker, J., Begg, N., Blair, I., et al. (2012) Communicable Disease Control and Health Protection Handbook. 3rd ed. Wiley Blackell.

Recommended Reading

  1. Vynnycky, E., White, R.G. (2010) An Introduction to Infectious Disease Modelling. Chapter 1: Introduction: the basics - infections, transmission and models. Oxford University Press USA.
  2. HM Government. Immunisation against infectious disease: the green book

Further reading

  1. Giesecke, J. (2017) Modern infectious disease epidemiology. 3rd ed. CRC Press.
  2. Haymann, D.L. (2014) Control of Communicable Diseases Manual. 20th ed. American Public Health Association.
  3. Noah, N. (2006) Controlling Communicable Disease (Understanding Public Health). Open University Press.