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Unit information: Cracking Causality in 2021/22

Unit name Cracking Causality
Unit code SSCM30009
Credit points 10
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Zuccolo
Open unit status Not open

This is part of an intercalated BSc for Medical, Veterinary or Dental students



School/department Bristol Medical School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences


Using genetic data to discover the environmental causes of disease. Topics include Mendelian randomisation, study design and translation from genetics to new drugs and new policies.

Intended learning outcomes

1. Illustrate the issues in observational epidemiological studies.

2. Explain the assumptions of Mendelian randomisation and how genetic variants can be used to improve causal inference.

3. Critique the Mendelian randomisation approach for making causal inference in epidemiology and discuss what can be done to mitigate the limitations of Mendelian randomisation

4. Discuss the main features of successful targets for drug discovery or policy implementation and explain how Mendelian randomisation could inform these.

5. Interpret findings from an Mendelian randomisation study in a clinical setting.

6. Critically appraise the evidence from a published Mendelian randomisation study.

7. Design an Mendelian randomisation study.

Teaching details

Methods of Teaching

This unit will adopt a blended learning approach, including a mixture of interactive synchronous and asynchronous sessions. Where appropriate, this will include some on-campus teaching, but all materials will be available for online learning.

Student Input

10 hours of scheduled activities, 5 hours coursework, a proportion of an end-of-programme assessment, and 75 hours independent study

Assessment Details

Assessment Information

50% of the available marks will be allocated through an in-unit coursework, with the remaining 50% allocated through an end-of-programme assessment.


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