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2010/1 Module Catalogue
Module Provider: Biosciences Short Name: MMIM017
Level: M Module Co-ordinator: COTTELL A Dr (Biosciences)
Number of credits: 15 Number of ECTS credits: 7.5
Module Availability
Semester 2
Assessment Pattern
Examination 70%
Coursework 30%
Module Overview

Develop critical appreciation of the spread of infection

Module Aims

This module aims to develop a critical appreciation of the nature of the spread of infectious diseases and the control points at which the cycle of infection can be broken, as well as an understanding of statistical methods and basic computer modelling methods that are used to study epidemics and identify the appropriate control strategies. Particular emphasis is given to vaccines, including development of novel vaccines and the methods for assessing them, and the prevention of transmission of infection by food and water.


Although examples of specific infectious diseases (or, if appropriate, non-infectious diseases) will be used to illustrate the application of the underlying concepts, it should be emphasised that the aim of the module is to study these concepts generically rather than the control of specific diseases, which are dealt with in the infectious diseases modules.
Learning Outcomes
  • At the end of the module you should be able to:
  • discuss critically the chain/cycle of infection and its use in identifying control points where further spread can be interrupted
  • describe the methods used to study the epidemiology of infectious diseases and discuss their impact on control strategies
  • explain the statistical methods used to study and model outbreaks and epidemics, and apply these methods to analysis of a simple example
  • compare the properties of existing vaccines and the strategies for their use
  • critically discuss  the methods used to develop and test new vaccines, and analyse data on vaccine efficacy
  • describe the factors affecting microbial growth and survival in food and water and explain how the principal methods of food processing affect food microflora
  • explain and evaluate the measures taken to ensure the microbiological quality of food and water
Module Content

Introduction: cycle of infection, control points, routes of transmission, reservoirs


Basic epidemiological methods: Descriptive studies; mortality statistics; SMR; morbidity statistics; analytical studies; cohort and case control studies


Identification of risk factors


Statistical methods: relative and attributable risk; odds ratios; ANOVA; confounding and multiple risk factors; logistic regression


Notification and reporting of infectious diseases; Outbreak investigation; control of hospital infections


Diagnostic tests - sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values


Typing & fingerprinting; molecular epidemiology


Mathematical modelling of epidemics; reproductive rates, herd immunity; computer modelling


Design and analysis of vaccine trials


Conventional and novel vaccines: toxoids, attenuated vaccines (including rational attenuation), killed, subunit, live recombinant, DNA, peptides


Strategies for vaccine use


Control of zoonoses


Recent trends in the epidemiology of food poisoning in the


Factors affecting the growth and survival of microbes in foods


Sampling and quality control




Water supplies and sewage treatment


Secondary metabolism; mycotoxins
Methods of Teaching/Learning
Selected Texts/Journals

Essential reading:


  • Modern Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Giesecke, J., Arnold , 2002 (ISBN: 0340764236)


  • OR


  • Epidemiology Kept Simple, Gerstman, B.B , John Wiley, 2003 (ISBN: 0471400289)



Recommended reading:


  • Food Microbiology: MR Adams and MO Moss , Royal Society of Chemistry , 2008 (ISBN  0854042849)


  • Epidemiology for the Uninitiated, Barker, D.J.P., Coggon, D., Rose, G,  BMJ Publishing, 2003 (ISBN: 0727916041)


  • Basic Statistics and Epidemiology: a practical guide, Antony Stewart, Abingdon:
Last Updated
August 2010