This is a full-time, demanding course with around 24 hours of compulsory contact time equivalent to four full teaching days each week and a substantial amount of self-directed study. Students benefit from small class sizes.
Students will be allocated an individual course supervisor for subject-specific and pastoral support throughout the course. Supervisors are based within the Cambridge Institute of Public Health. Usually, course supervisors only supervise one student. Depending on the nature of the research thesis they choose, students may also be allocated an additional ‘thesis supervisor’.
Syllabus for Term 1
This term focuses on epidemiological and biostatistical principles and procedures. Teaching sessions during this term will be shared with students from the MPhil in Public Health course. The teaching in this term also includes training in basic data handling and analysis using the statistical package STATA. A major task for this term is the Michaelmas Essay on descriptive epidemiology. With support and guidance from your supervisor, you’ll choose a topic area and review the descriptive epidemiology of a particular disease or exposure. During this term you will begin to research an appropriate topic for your MPhil thesis.
All students are required to complete all topics/modules.
Epidemiology (click for topic list)
- Scope of epidemiology
- Measures of disease frequency
- Measures of association
- Measures of population impact
- Measures of dynamics of infectiousness
- Ecological/geographical studies
- Case control studies
- Cohort studies
- Intervention studies and Randomised Controlled Trials
- Routine data sources: registries and record linkage, mortality, sociodemographic information
- Disease trends and standardization
- Random error/chance
- Interaction and effect modification
- Association and Causation
- Validity and reliability
- Research synthesis.
Biostatistics (click for topic list)
- Introduction to biostatistics and computing using STATA
- Descriptive statistics
- Normal distribution and confidence intervals
- Comparison of continuous variables between two groups
- Hypothesis tests and p-values
- Comparison of categorical variables between two groups
- Comparison of variables between two groups using distribution free methods
- Correlation and simple linear regression
- Multiple linear regression with several continuous exposures
- Multiple linear regression with binary and categorical exposures
- Multiple linear regression in practice
- Logistic regression
- Survival analysis.
Data handling and appraisal (click for topic list)
- Principles of data management
- Computing with STATA
- Database skills for study administration, data entry and manipulation of data sets.
Syllabus for Terms 2 and 3
In these terms the teaching is based on a modular programme of teaching, which focuses on advanced aspects of key epidemiological research areas and biostatistical analysis. The teaching includes training in advanced data analysis using the statistical package STATA. The biostatistics teaching sessions are not shared with MPhil in Public Health students. A major task for the second term is the Lent Essay on analytical epidemiology and during this term, you will begin initial work on your thesis.
The modular programme of teaching continues during the third term, focusing on advanced aspects of key epidemiological research areas alongside revision for the written examinations in June and your thesis work.
All students are required to complete all advanced epidemiology and advanced biostatistics modules.
Advanced Epidemiology (click for topic list)
Modular-based lectures and seminars in more advanced aspects of epidemiological research.
- Chronic disease epidemiology, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes
- Infectious disease epidemiology
- Genetic and molecular epidemiology
- Nutritional and physical activity epidemiology
- Clinical trials
- Environmental epidemiology
- Psychiatric epidemiology.
Advanced Biostatistics (click for topic list)
- Cohort analysis
- Regression analysis of cohort studies
- Survival analysis
- Case-control analysis
- Individually matched studies
- Power and sample size calculations
- Repeated measures and mixed models
- Missing data and multiple imputation
- Introduction to Bayesian Statistics.
Seminars and talks throughout the course
All students are expected to attend the Bradford Hill Seminar Series, given several times per term by visiting speakers, which provide a wide perspective on epidemiological research and practice. Students are encouraged to attend other relevant seminars at the Department of Public Health and Primary Care, the MRC Biostatistics Unit and the MRC Epidemiology Unit where possible. As a graduate student of the University, MPhil students can also attend seminars held by the School of Clinical Medicine (http://events.medschl.cam.ac.uk/) and wider University (http://talks.cam.ac.uk/).
Assessment and exams
- two essays, each not exceeding 3,000 words in length, one in each of the first two terms;
- two written exam papers, each of which may cover all the areas of study prescribed in the syllabus;
- a thesis not exceeding 20,000 words in length on a topic selected by the student in discussion with staff and course supervisors.