MSc Epidemiology (pre-course info)

Welcome week

• MSc Epidemiology welcome week timetable 2019 (pdf)
• Welcome week timetable (all programmes) (pdf)
• Welcome week marketplace guide (pdf)

• International Students’ Induction & Reception: taking place on Monday, 4-6.30pm, and featuring talks on Tier 4 Visa terms and conditions, and healthcare and banking in the UK. This event is strongly recommended for Tier 4 Visa students, and may be of interest to other international students.

• Student Welcome Party: celebrate your first week at LSHTM with your new friends, live music and light refreshments on Friday, 5-8pm in the lower ground floor.

• Accommodation helpdesk: if you are still looking for accommodation, visit the helpdesk in our Keppel Street building, where former students are on hand to guide you in your search. Open daily 12-5pm Monday 23 to Friday 27 September.

• Bank letters: bank letters will be available 11am-4pm on Wednesday and 10am-4pm Thursday & Friday in the Library. From Monday 30 September they will be available from the Student Hub. You will need to provide the name and address of the bank where you intend to open your account. Visit our banking pages for details of banks with branches near LSHTM.

• Council tax letters: council tax exemption certificates can be obtained from the Student Hub from Wednesday 25 September onwards.

Please note that on Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th September 2019, MSc Epidemiology students and some tutors attend a two-day residential retreat at St Catherine's College in Cambridge. We will book rail tickets for you. Please let us know if you want to go directly without the class so that we amend our booking. We have already arranged your accommodation on the night of 25th September (i.e. there is no need for additional payments). We ask you to make appropriate provisions for you to attend e.g. you need to arrange childcare or time off work if part-time.

This retreat is a compulsory part of the programme and each year the students tell us how they enjoy the chance to meet their co-students during this trip and in what good stead it puts them in for support through the time you are doing the MSc and after. You will also be told many more details about the programme on the retreat that will not be repeated elsewhere.

Particular issues relevant to part-time students will also be discussed during the retreat.

Overview of the MSc

The timetable in the handbook is for the whole academic year. Please note that some of the dates such as exams are provisional only. Further details about the MSc will be discussed during the introduction to Term 1 teaching session during orientation week.

During welcome week, we will make detailed information on Term 1 options available. You will meet the respective module organisers to ask questions. Please read this carefully, as you will need to make your final choice for any options during orientation week. However, each student will be able to discuss their preferences with one of the Programme Directors during the first week before you make your choices. Half way during Term 1 there will be a module fair where you can find more out about the advanced modules in Terms 2 and 3.

We are also in the process of planning a half-day field trip to Oxford during the Term 1 reading week. We will give you details nearer the time but please note for this latter field trip you will be required to fund and make your own way there and back. Many students also take this opportunity to stay in Oxford to view the many sights there.

If you are a full-time student, please note that the teaching is intensive and does not allow for outside commitments. It is also LSHTM policy that students will not normally be permitted to do paid work for more than six hours a week.

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 and Population Health. These modules run throughout term 1 on Tuesdays (AM and PM), Wednesdays (PM) and Fridays (AM). You can also take the other compulsory modules, Epidemiology in Practice (Mondays AM or PM and Wednesday PM) and Clinical Trials (Thursdays PM), in the first year. If possible it is useful, but not essential, to take one of them (see timetable).

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 morning to Wednesday lunch time)  or the second (2.5 days - Wednesday afternoon to Friday afternoon). There are also options to do some modules by distance learning.


These are taken in early June, typically in the second year depending on how you have chosen to split the modules across the two years

Summer research project

Our full-time students work on this after the June exams. 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 you.


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. I would mean you would be fully immersed whilst you're studying, which can be advantageous in terms of learning.

Reading list

One book is particularly recommended for the core statistics courses:

Kirkwood B. Sterne J. Essential Medical Statistics. 2nd Edition Blackwell Scientific 2003. ISBN 0865428719. This text book covers a wide range of statistical methods and is supported by datasets for practising these – the datasets are available through the Blackwells website.

There are numerous epidemiology texts, and to some extent you need to find the one that suits you. The books listed below have been recommended by people at LSHTM. Do not rush into buying expensive texts – there will be opportunity to look at them during the term and decide which ones you wish to buy. Each study module is accompanied by a manual.

Anderson RM & May RM. Infectious Diseases of Humans. Dynamics and Control. Oxford Science Pubs. 1992 ISBN 0-19-854040-X. A masterfully written but rather dense book on mathematical modelling of infectious disease

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

Breslow NE, Day NE, Davis W. Statistical methods in cancer research. Vol 1. Case-control studies. IARC Scientific Publications No 32. 1980 ISBN 9283211324 A detailed statistical textbook that is full of formulae but highly-regarded authoritative exposition of the theory

Clayton D, Hills M. Statistical Models in Epidemiology. Oxford University Press 1993. ISBN 019852221- 5. Theoretical basis of much of the work done in the statistics modules offered in Terms 2 and 3

dos Santos Silva I. (Ed) Cancer Epidemiology: Principles and Methods. IARC Lyon France 1998 (Available via IARC website). Also available in French and Spanish ISBN 928320405-0 (English) 928320406-9 (French) 928320407-7 (Spanish). The book can be downloaded. Isabel dos Santos Silva has used her teaching experience at the School 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 2014. Clearly describes epidemiological designs with well laid out examples. Particularly useful sections on descriptive epidemiology, genetic epidemiology and careers for epidemiologists that are not available elsewhere

Giesecke, J. Modern Infectious Disease Epidemiology. Edward Arnold 2nd edition 2001. ISBN 034076423- 6

Hennekens CH, Buring JE. Epidemiology in Medicine. Little, Brown & Co. 1987. ISBN 0316356360. Although now quite old, the material remains relevant and the book gives a uniquely clear account of the basic principles of epidemiology. The book is referred to frequently in Term 1 teaching.

Heymann, DL (Ed.). Control of Communicable Diseases in Man (19th Edition). American Public Health Association 2008 ISBN 087553189X An excellent reference book which gives you the basics of all known infections; 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 (2 nd Edition) 1996. ISBN 019508377-6 Good general book with more infectious examples than in most other texts. More expensive than Hennekens and Buring and does not include experimental studies

MacMahon B, Trichopolous D. Epidemiology, principles and methods. (2nd Edition) Little Brown and Co. 1996 ISBN 031654222-9 More detailed than Hennekens (and more expensive). A good second level option

Porta M, Last JM. A Dictionary of Epidemiology. Oxford University Press. (5th Edition). 2008 ISBN 0195141506 Concise definitions of most of the basic terms and concepts. A useful reference

Rose G. The Strategy of preventive medicine. Oxford University Press 1993. ISBN 019262486-5. 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 3 rd Edition. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins 2008 ISBN 031675780-2. A substantial book that progresses to advanced epidemiology and a useful reference to have for use after the MSc

Sackett DL, Haynes RB, Tugwell P, Guyatt G. Clinical Epidemiology: a basic science for clinical medicine. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins. 2nd Edition. 1991 ISBN: 031676599-6. The book from McMaster which pulls together the teaching of epidemiology in a clinical setting

Smith PG, Morrow RH (Eds). Methods for Field Trials of Interventions Against Tropical Diseases: A toolbox (2nd Edition). Macmillan 1997 ISBN 0333640586. Very useful book on how to design and conduct field studies anywhere not just in tropical studies with important tips that may not be routinely taught. Recommended reading for the study module Study Design

Szklo M, Nieto FJ. Epidemiology: Beyond the Basics (2nd Edition). Jones & Bartlett, 2007. ISBN: 0763729272. 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: 0198565763. 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:

Beaglehole R, Bonita R, Kjellstrom T. Basic Epidemiology. WHO 1993. ISBN 924154446-5

Barker DJP, Hall AJ. Practical Epidemiology. Churchill Livingstone 1991. ISBN 044303787-6

Barker DJP, Cooper C & Rose CP. Epidemiology in medical practice. Churchill Livingstone 1998.

Coggon D, Barker DJP, Rose G. (Ed). Epidemiology for the uninitiated. BMJ Books 4rd edition, 2003. ISBN: 0727916041 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. John Wiley and Sons. 1998. ISBN 047124029-X

Pearce, N. A Short Introduction to Epidemiology, 2nd Ed. This book is freely downloadable

Morabia A. Enigmas of Health and Disease: How Epidemiology Helps Unravel Scientific Mysteries Columbia Univ Press (2014) ISBN 0231168853

Rothman KJ. Epidemiology: an introduction. Oxford Univ Press. 2002. ISBN 019513554-7

Rowntree D. Statistics Without Tears, a Primer for Non-mathematicians. Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN-10: 0140136320. 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 School staff, this is a comprehensive well-structured book covering all aspects of clinical trials

Biology text

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 0335208398. This work aims to teach 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

Smith. T. The Human Body. Dorling Kindersley. 1995 ISBN 0751352713. An illustrated guide to its structure, function, and disorders

Information for returning part-time students

You will need to make your final choice for any options during welcome week.

As with last year a field trip to Oxford is being planned during Term 1 reading week.

Page last updated September 2019