Course Syllabus

Harvard School of Public Health

Epidemiology 201 - Introduction to Epidemiology: Methods I

Fall 1 2017

Tuesday and Thursday 9:45-11:15 in Kresge G1

Tuesday and Thursday 11:30-1:00 in Kresge 502




Murray A. Mittleman, MD, DrPH

Professor of Epidemiology

677 Huntington Ave, K-505D


Phone: 617-432-2341

Office Hour: Tuesday, 2:00-3:00PM in K-505


  Teaching Assistants  

    Office Hour
Kevin Kensler Monday 1:00-2:00 PM FXB G10
Katrina Mott Monday 2:30-3:30 PM Kresge 205
Edward Yu Monday 4:00-5:00 PM Kresge 205
Emma Accorsi Tuesday 8:30-9:30 AM FXB G10
Joy Shi Wednesday 8:30-9:30 AM FXB G10
Geetha Iyer Wednesday 10:00-11:00 AM FXB G03
Samantha Molsberry Wednesday 12:00-1:00 PM Kresge 201
Hari Iyer Wednesday 1:00-2:00 PM FXB G10
Lauren Tanz Wednesday 4:00-5:00 PM FXB G03
Eric Mooring Thursday 8:00-9:00 AM FXB G03



There are two lecture sections on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:45 to 11:15 in Kresge G1 and 11:30-1:00 in Kresge 502.


Lab Sessions

Lab sessions are held on Thursday afternoons and Friday throughout the day. Registration for a lab session is required.  In each session, we will review homework assignments, work on new problems and discuss important class concepts. Students are expected to attend the lab session that they are registered in.


Course Materials 

Textbooks are available at the COOP and various book sellers and on reserve in Countway Library. Modern Epidemiology is available as an electronic text through Countway library.

Rothman KJ, Greenland S and Lash TL. Modern Epidemiology (3rd ed.) Philadelphia, PA: Wolters-Kluwer / Lippincott, Williams Wilkins, 2008 (ISBN-10: 0781755646)

Causal Inference. Hernán MA, Robins JM. Causal Inference. Chapman and Hall, 2017.

Optional: Rothman KJ. Epidemiology: An Introduction (2nd ed.) New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2012 (ISBN-10 0199754551)

Additional required readings will be available on the course website.

 EPI 201 Fall 2017 1 slide per page.pdf

Course Description

EPI201 introduces methods for epidemiologic description and causal inference. The course discusses conceptual and practical issues encountered in the design, conduct, and analysis of epidemiologic studies. The material is first presented in simplified contexts (closed populations with time-fixed exposures, nonparametric methods for data analysis, and absence of sampling variability) and then explored in more realistic settings (case studies and published articles). EPI201 is the first course in the series of methods courses designed for students majoring in Epidemiology and related fields. Students who take EPI201 are expected to take EPI202 (Methods II).


Course Objectives

At the completion of the course students will be able to:

  1. Describe and compute measures of disease frequency, and measures of association and effect.
  2. Identify the key assumptions for causal inference from randomized experiments and observational data.
  3. Critically evaluate epidemiologic studies for potential non-exchangeability by applying the concepts of the counterfactual basis of confounding and the presence of other sources of bias.
  4. Use causal diagrams to represent a priori subject-matter knowledge, assumptions, and epidemiologic biases.
  5. Describe the strengths, limitations and theoretical basis of epidemiologic study designs.
  6. Critically analyze published epidemiologic studies for methodologic strengths, limitations, data quality and interpretation of study findings.


Outcome Measures

Students’ progress in the course will be evaluated in the following ways:

  1. Homework Assignments: The weekly homework assignments involve exercises to apply the concepts covered in the lecture and course readings. The homework assignments must be submitted as a PDF through the course website by 9:30AM on the Thursday dates indicated on the course schedule. Homework assignments uploaded after they are due will receive an automatic 10 percentage point reduction per each 24-hour period that they are late. 
  2. Online Quizzes: The weekly quizzes are based on the course readings for the upcoming week. The quiz will be posted on the course website. Students must complete the quizzes alone (no collaboration) by Monday at 11:45PM.
  3. Midterm and Final Examination: The in-class midterm and final examinations will require application of the concepts and skills developed in the course.


Policy on Collaboration:

Many students learn best when working in a group setting. We encourage collaborative learning in this course. You may discuss homework assignments with other students. However, all written work that you submit for grading must be your own, in your own words, reflecting your understanding of the homework assignment. Homework assignments should not be prepared by copying, paraphrasing, or summarizing someone else’s work.

Grading Criteria

5 Homework Assignments       (30%)

5 Online Quizzes                      (10%)

1 Midterm Exam                       (25%)

1 Final Exam                            (35%)


Course Evaluations

Completion of the evaluation is a requirement for each course. Your grade will not be available until you submit the evaluation. In addition, registration for future terms will be blocked until you have completed evaluations for courses in prior terms.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due