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Epidemiology: The Basic Science of Public Health

Epidemiology is a study of the causes, distribution and determinants of disease in human populations. It is related to public health and informs policy decisions and evidence-based medicine by identifying risk factors for diseases. It also deals with the preventive medicine. The fundamentals of Epidemiology aim to contribute to the understanding of the etiology and prevention of disease, and to improve the health of the public by searching preventive measures through research.

About the course

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“Epidemiology the Basic Science of Public Health” is the free online course in the field of Health & Society. University of North CarolinaThe University of North Carolina of Chapel Hill with the collaboration of Coursera is going to start a new online course on Epidemiology. It explores the public health locally and globally through the lens of epidemiology.

Epidemiology, the cornerstone of public health, is the study of the distribution and determinants of health conditions or events among populations and the application of that study to control health problems. Students can learn about the current public health problems and issues, students will understand the practice of epidemiology as it relates to real life.

Duration of Course

The course will start from October 2013 for the duration of 6 weeks. The course will demand 4-6 hours/week of study.


Anyone interested in learning about public health and epidemiology can apply for the course. English speaking adult and learners at or above college level can apply.

Course Content

  • Overview and history of epidemiology and public health and the population perspective
  • Measures of disease occurrence e.i. incidence and prevalence
  • Study designs and measures of association
  • Bias, error, causality
  • Epidemiology in research and policy
  • Epidemiology in practice (outbreak investigations)
  • Public health surveillance 

About Instructor

Dr. Karin Yeatts and Dr. Lorraine Alexander will be the instructors of the program.

Dr. Karin Yeatts has done MS in epidemiology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a PhD in epidemiology from the UNC School of Public Health. She is the research assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the UNC School of Public Health

Dr. Lorraine Alexander is DrPH Clinical Associate Professor, and Director of Distance Education, Department of Epidemiology, Director Certificate in Field Epidemiology Program, Public Health Leadership Program, and Distance Learning Specialist at North Carolina Institute for Public Health in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Statement of Accomplishment

Students who complete all graded assignments and achieve at least 80% overall will receive a Statement of Accomplishment.