MSc Epidemiology (pre-course info)

General welcome

Welcome video from Programme Directors Ian Douglas and Patrick Nguipdop-Djomo

Welcome Week

Welcome Week timetable

Personal tutors

To help us identify appropriate personal tutors for students, please complete our MSc Epidemiology student interest form by Monday 25th September 2023. The information in the form will be shared with your personal tutor.

Term 1 modules & timetable

Term 1 timetable 2023/24

AM/PM Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
AM Epidemiology & -Omics (wks 8-12) Extended Epidemiology (wks 2-12) Extended Epidemiology (wks 2-12)

Demographic Methods (wks 2-6)

Introduction to R (wks 8-11) - optional

Statistics for EPH (wks 2-12)
PM Epidemiology in Practice (wks 2-12) Statistics for EPH (wks 2-12) Epidemiology in Practice (wks 2-12) Clinical Trials (wks 2-12) Introduction to R (wks 8-9) - optional
  • Week 1 is Welcome Week (25 - 29 September)
  • Week 2 is the start of the first half of Term 1 teaching (2 - 6 October)
  • Week 5 is Reading Week with no timetabled teaching (6 - 10 November)
  • Week 6 is the start of the second half of Term 1 teaching (13 - 17 November)
  • Term 1 ends on 15 December
  • Some Term 1 modules are examined after the Christmas break in January, before the start of Term 2

Full-time students must take all modules, except Demographic Methods which is optional and unassessed (we will explain more in Welcome Week).

Part-time students must take Extended Epidemiology and Statistics for EPH in Year 1. Other modules can be taken in either Year 1 or Year 2 and we can advise on how to choose modules in Welcome Week.

Introduction to R sessions are optional, but opened to all MSc Epidemiology students, both full-time and part-time.

How to register your module choices

After enrolment, full-time students should register online through Evision. You will need to login using your LSHTM username (usually lsh followed by your student ID number). Check module selection instructions.

Part-time students should e-mail their module choices to the Programme Administrator, Khallid Muhammad.

We will say more about Term 1 modules and module choices at the MSc Epidemiology Programme Induction session in Welcome Week. If you have any questions before Welcome Week please e-mail

Summer project

Part of the MSc includes a project report. For this you may wish to work on datasets from your own research or other research that you have access to. You do not have to but if you are considering doing this, it would be very helpful if you made arrangements to bring the datasets with you, as this will save time and trouble later. At this stage, however, we cannot guarantee that these datasets will be suitable for the project report. You will need written approval from the owners of the dataset to use it for your project. If it involves human subjects, you will also need copies of any local ethics approval for the study. Please note there is no requirement to use your own dataset and there will be possibilities for datasets or other possible project ideas available during your time at LSHTM.

Preparing for the programme

Below is a book list for your information. We advise you not to rush into buying books. If you do not have a biology background, we suggest that you brief yourself on some of the fundamentals before you come. A couple of suggested texts are given in the list. For those coming back to maths after a while, Mathtutor may be of use.

We do not otherwise expect you to have done any background reading before you join the MSc. However we would like to suggest a fun way to get into the subject and a starting point with your new colleagues by looking at the talk by Hans Rosling before you come to LSHTM.

Early in Term 1 we will be recommending a model of calculator so if you do not already have one you may wish to wait until then to buy one.

Information for new part-time students

Term 1

In the first year, half-time students need to do as a minimum Extended Epidemiology and Statistics for Epidemiology & Population Health. These modules run throughout Term 1 on Tuesdays (full day), Wednesdays (half day) and Fridays (half day). You can also take the other compulsory modules, Epidemiology in Practice (Mondays half day and Wednesday half day) and Clinical Trials (Thursdays half day), in the first year. If possible it is useful, but not essential, to take one of them.

In the second year, students do any remaining compulsory modules and any optional modules (typically 1.5 days/week, depending on what was done in the first year). Please note that Clinical Trials is useful for taking Study Design in Term 2; equally, Epidemiology in Practice is useful when taking Statistical Methods in Epidemiology in Term 2.

Terms 2 and 3

You would typically do one of the two module slots in the first year and the other in the second year - so, you would attend either the first half of the week (2.5 days, Monday-Wednesday)  or the second (2.5 days - Wednesday-Friday). There are also options to do some modules by distance learning.

Summer research project

Our full-time students work on this June-September. For part-time study, you can split the project over the two summers or do it all at once in the second summer, but you will need the skills to do this, i.e. if you have a data analysis project, you can only start in Year 1 if you've done your statistical modules that year.


An alternative option to studying part-time is split-study. This would mean that you study the programme in six month-blocks over two years. It would mean you would be fully immersed whilst you're studying, which can be advantageous in terms of learning.

Reading list

Most modules provide comprehensive notes covering all of the key material in the module. We therefore do not recommend that you rush to buy expensive textbooks at the start of the Programme. Individual modules may recommend particular textbooks. Below is some general advice about some textbooks that you may find useful. Many of these books can be accessed online via the LSHTM library.


There is one textbook that we would particularly recommend for the core statistics courses if you do decide that you wish to purchase a textbook:

Kirkwood B. Sterne J. Essential Medical Statistics. 2nd Edition Blackwell Scientific 2003. ISBN-13: 978-0865428713. This textbook covers a wide range of statistical methods and is supported by datasets for practising these – some of the datasets are available through the Blackwell’s website.

Another book which may be of interest to those more mathematically inclined is:

Clayton D, Hills M.  Statistical Models in Epidemiology. Oxford University Press 1993. ISBN 019852221-5. Presents the theoretical basis of much of the material covered in the statistics modules offered in the second and third terms.


There are numerous epidemiology texts and, if you do wish to buy a textbook, you need to find one that suits you. The books listed below have been recommended by people at LSHTM. 

Penny Webb, Chris Bain. Essential Epidemiology. 3rd edition, Cambridge University Press, 2018, doi:10.1017/9781316275948.

Anderson RM & May RM. Infectious Diseases of Humans. Dynamics and Control. Oxford Science Pubs. 1992. ISBN-13: 978-0198540403. A very detailed but rather dense book on mathematical modelling of infectious disease.

Beaglehole R, Bonita R.  Public Health at the Crossroads.  Cambridge University Press, 1997. ISBN-13 : 978-0521583732. The authors discuss their selection of the major issues facing public health practitioners; also highly relevant to epidemiologists.

dos Santos Silva I. (Ed)  Cancer Epidemiology : Principles and Methods.  IARC Lyon France 1998. Also available in French and Spanish. ISBN 928320405-0 (English) 928320406-9 (French) 928320407-7 (Spanish). This book can be downloadedIsabel dos Santos Silva has used her teaching experience at LSHTM to develop this textbook. Although taking cancer epidemiology as its theme, the principles and designs are applicable to other diseases as well. Many examples are given to help the reader see how epidemiology is applied.

Friis RH Sellers TA. Epidemiology for Public Health Practice. Jones and Bartlett Learning 2020. ISBN-13 : 978-1284175431. Clear description of epidemiological designs with well laid out examples. Particularly useful sections on descriptive epidemiology, genetic epidemiology and careers for epidemiologists.

Giesecke, J. Modern Infectious Disease Epidemiology. CRC Press 3rd edition 2020. ISBN-13: 978-1444180022. Presents key concepts in the study of infectious diseases in a relatively simple way.

Hennekens CH, Buring JE. Epidemiology in Medicine. Little, Brown & Co. 1987. ISBN-13: 978-0316356367. Although now quite old, the material remains relevant and the book gives a clear account of the basic principles of epidemiology.

Heymann, DL (Ed.). Control of Communicable Diseases in Man (20th Edition). American Public Health Association 2015. ISBN-13: 978-0875530185. An excellent reference book which gives you the basics of all known infections (up to 2015); incubation period, clinical features, control measures - if you could only take one book to investigate an outbreak - this would be it.

Kelsey JL, Whittemore AS, Evans AS, Thompson WD. Methods in Observational Epidemiology. Oxford Univ Press  (2nd Edition) 1996. ISBN-13 : 978-0195083774. Good general book with more infectious examples than in most other texts. Does not cover experimental studies.

MacMahon B, Pugh TF, Trichopolous D.  Epidemiology, principles and methods.  (2nd Edition) Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 1996. ISBN-13: 978-0316542227. One of the early epidemiology textbooks. More detailed than e.g. Hennekens.

Porta M (Ed.). A Dictionary of Epidemiology. Oxford University Press. (6th Edition). 2014. ISBN-13 : 978-0199976737. Concise definitions of most of the basic terms and concepts. A useful reference.

Rose G.  The strategy of preventive medicine.  Oxford University Press 2008. ISBN-13: 978-0192630971. A fascinating and readable account of strategies of prevention; the discussion of the implication of population-wide prevention strategies brought new insights to epidemiology and public health.

Rothman KJ, Greenland S, Lash TL (Eds).  Modern Epidemiology 3rd Edition. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins 2013. ISBN-13 : 978-1451190052. A substantial book that progresses to advanced epidemiology and a useful reference to have for use after the MSc.

Sackett DL, Haynes RB, Guyatt G, Tugwell P. Clinical Epidemiology: How to Do Clinical Practice Research. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins. 3rd Edition. 2004. ISBN-13: 978-0781745246. The book from McMaster which pulls together the teaching of epidemiology in a clinical setting.

Smith PG, Morrow RH, Ross DA (Eds). Field Trials of Interventions: A toolbox (3rd Edition). Oxford University Press, 2015. ISBN-13 : 978-0198732860. Very useful book on how to design and conduct field studies with important tips that may not be routinely taught. Recommended reading for the study module Study Design. This book is available for free download.

Szklo M, Nieto FJ. Epidemiology: Beyond the Basics (4th Edition). Jones & Bartlett, 2018 ISBN-13 : 978-1284116595. An intermediate-level textbook, based on the intermediate epidemiology course taught at Johns Hopkins.

Vynnycky E, White RG. An Introduction to Infectious Disease Modelling. Oxford University Press, 2010. ISBN-13 : 978-0198565765. Excellent introduction to the subject of mathematical modelling, written for readers without advanced mathematical skills.

Introductory books

There are several introductory texts in epidemiology, most of which are intended for undergraduates, but could be useful:

Bonita R, Beaglehole R, Kjellstrom T. Basic Epidemiology. WHO (2nd edition) 2007. ISBN-13: 978-9241547079.

Barker DJP, Cooper C & Rose CP.  Epidemiology in medical practice.  Churchill Livingstone (5th edition) 1998. ISBN-13 : 978-0443056208.

Coggon D, Rose G, Barker DJP. Epidemiology for the uninitiated. BMJ Books 5th edition, 2003. ISBN-13 :978-0727916044. Light-hearted guide for the novice. Might be a good book to look at in the early days.

Gerstman BB. Epidemiology kept simple: an introduction to classic and modern epidemiology. Wiley-Blackwell. 2013. ISBN-13: 978-1444336085.

Pearce, N. A Short Introduction to Epidemiology, 2nd Ed. This book is available on Moodle to download free of charge.

Morabia A. Enigmas of Health and Disease: How Epidemiology Helps Unravel Scientific Mysteries. Columbia Univ Press, 2014. ISBN-13: 978-0231168854

Rothman KJ. Epidemiology: an introduction. Oxford Univ Press. 2012.  ISBN-13: 978-0199754557

Rowntree D. Statistics Without Tears, a Primer for Non-mathematicians. Penguin Books. ISBN-13: 978-0141987491. This text assumes no knowledge, and teaches through words and diagrams rather than through figures, formulae and equations.

Clinical trials

Pocock SJ.  Clinical trials: a practical approach.  John Wiley 1983. A non-technical guide to the principles and practice of clinical trials. Professor Pocock teaches in the Clinical Trials Unit offered in Term 1.

Wang D and Bakhai A (Ed). Clinical trials. Remedica 2006. Largely written by LSHTM staff, this is a comprehensive well-structured book covering all aspects of clinical trials.

Biology texts

Davey B, Halliday T, Hirst M. Human biology and health: an evolutionary approach. Open University Press. 3rd edition 2001.  [Health and Disease Series Book 4] ISBN-13: 978-0335208395. Covers some fundamental biological principles, including DNA and the nature of genes, the structure and function of cells, the evolution of infectious agents and the human immune system, and the interaction between human physiology and the physical environment.

Roberts A. The Complete Human Body: The Definitive Visual Guide DK, 2016. ISBN-13: 978-0241240458. An illustrated guide to the human body - its structure, function, and some disorders.

Information for returning part-time students

You will need to register for any Term 1 core modules which you did not take in Year 1 and Demographic Methods (optional), if you wish to take it, during Welcome Week.

Page last updated September 2023