Epidemiology and Statistics I: a course review

The second semester of the Health Economics, Policy and Management programme starts with an essential subject: basic epidemiology and medical statistics. During this medium-length course, students engage in different activities in order to learn how to choose and perform appropriate statistical methods for managing common types of health research/policy/economics data.

Course structure and lectures:

This course had a very dynamic design. Several teaching methods were used by the staff in order to dive into the world of medical statistics, including lectures, computer exercises, group discussions, seminars and presentations. The content covered in the lectures, seminars and group discussions consisted of:

  • Concepts in epidemiology and medical statistics
  • Measures of comparison
  • Measuring disease occurrence
  • Descriptive statistics
  • Statistical theory
  • Statistical thinking
  • Relevant articles for medical statistics and epidemiology

After each lecture and seminar, we were provided with some exercises and quiz-like questions in order to cement the content covered. The fact that we discussed with the teachers the right answer for each question is an example of the student-centered education methodology that we benefit from at KI.

Our course director was Mesfin Kassaye Tessma (MD, MPH) who I must say is one of the most energetic and passionate teachers we have had so far in the programme. You can review Prof. Kassaye’s work by clicking here: (https://staff.ki.se/people/mestes).


The course had a duration of 4 weeks. Lectures were conducted every morning except of Wednesdays, which was dedicated to individual studies. We started by covering the content in epidemiology the first half of the course and continued with statistics. Computer exercises were held on the afternoons.

Computer-based exercises:

This course included several sessions of computer-based exercises in order practice (in pairs) the content about medical statistics that was covered in the lectures. We were taught step by step how to use SPSS. We used the software to run:

  • Descriptive statistics
  • T-test
  • Chi-Square
  • Regression analysis
  • Non-parametric analysis

One teacher was available for us during the exercises at the computer lab. Also, we received individual feedback after each session.


This course was assessed both individually and in teams.

  • Group evaluation: This assignment was a valuable opportunity to combine theory and practice in one activity. We were assigned reports from previous studies carefully selected by the course director. Our task consisted in evaluating the statistical methods used and provide both criticism and suggestions for better results in the future. We presented our work to the class, whom worked as opponents to our proposed suggestions. I could say confidently that we all learned from different mistakes made previously in real-world research, as well from presenting our ideas to a very enthusiastic public.
  • Individual evaluation: It consisted of an optional individual assessment of a different article for those willing to get the best possible grade.

Class insights…

Jack Latteur (United Kingdom):

What did you like the most about the course?

This has been my favourite course so far. The professors and guest lecturers involved are very knowledgeable and that leads to some really interesting lectures. I felt that the content was very interesting but the way it was delivered was good too as it made you think about the concepts critically

What are your thoughts regarding the computer exercises?

The computer exercises are well done, they frustrated me at first due to my lack of skill in SPSS, but having to figure it out for ourselves was rewarding and made me remember the content more than if I had simply been told what to do. The tasks that we were given are based on very important skills that we will need to use when doing research and writing academic papers.

Annaëlle Vinzent (France):

What did you like the most about the course?

I really liked the fact that we learned step by step how to perform a statistical analysis. The teacher clearly explained to us how to choose the appropriate test for each data, how to check the assumptions and the data. The course was well adapted to the disparate level of the people’s in the class, making it easy to learn at your own pace. Since I had no background in statistics, I found the exercises very challenging, but I felt rewarded at the end of the course as I learnt a lot regarding statistical analysis in epidemiological context.

What are your thoughts regarding the computer exercises?

I felt the computer exercises were a great complement to the lectures. It allowed us to use a statistical software (SPSS) and understand better in which circumstances to apply a regression analysis, independent t-test or mann-whitney U test. Computer exercises are a great value to this course as they bring an additional knowledge to the basic statistics and epidemiology lecture.


Hope you enjoyed the blogpost! Stay tuned for more course reviews.



email: julio.sosa@stud.ki.se

Instagram: @julio.sosam


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