EPID600 [formerly EPID160]: Principles of epidemiology for public health, UNC

Note: These pages are being moved/recreated from the pages formerly at http://www.unc.edu/epid600.

“Epidemiology for Enlightenment”

From Vic's last EPID600 Class (Fall '17) (view online course syllabus and schedule)

    University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health (home page) (videos)
   Department of Epidemiology (link)

      EPID600, Principles of Epidemiology for Public Health
(Formerly known as EPID160)           What is public health

Instructors: Lorraine K. Alexander Link to Lorraine's webpage, Debra E. Irwin Link to Vic's webpage, Victor J. Schoenbach Link to Vic's webpage, Karin B. Yeatts Link to Karin's webpage

Special treats: recorded interviews with notable SPH alumni and Epidemiology faculty,
including past EPID160 instructor Carl Shy (interviewed by Karin Yeatts and Lorraine Alexander),
Bert Kaplan, Barbara Hulka, and Michel Ibrahim.
Video of Vic's spring 2005 lecture on causal inference,
his course on "Social justice and equality - in search of John Cassel's epidemiology",
Virtual Library, and two recent presentations

Photo of class in Rosenau Auditorium

This site serves public access and archival purposes. Some pages and features
became unavailable when UNC discontinued its ColdFusion license in May 2017, and some page references became non-functional when UNC decommissioned the AFS webserver in 2018.

Enrolled students should access the course through Sakai

Core competencies Epidemiolog.net Information for students
Course objectives EPID160/600 history Have I taken an equivalent course?
Course content EPID160/600 instructorsthen Which introductory epidemiology course should I take?
Syllabi EPID160/600 instructors and now Information for teaching assistants

Course materials:   Module instructions and case studies Lectures Textbook readings
Health Sciences Library:   Health Sciences Library E-journal Finder Off-campus access Ask a librarian
UNC resources:   Manage your Onyen and UNC email UNC Directory The Learning Center

  • “I wanted to take some time out today, on the occasion of the final case study due date, to thank you both personally for the experience I've had over the past few months. Even though this was my fourth of five courses in the Core Public Health Concepts program, this was my first foray into epidemiology. To be honest, I was a little intimidated because of some of the things I'd heard about the course, especially within the bounds of a time-compressed summer session. I have to say I have been pleasantly surprised with my positively illuminating journey through the intricacies of the science, policy, context and role that epidemiology plays in our lives. (In addition to the introduction of epi into my life as a future PH professional!)” (Grayson Privette, summer 2012 Internet)
  • “Maybe a year or so back I heard there was some grumbling about the EPID600 course as you ran it, and I sent a letter to Dean Rimer to ask her to leave the format as it was. It was a very difficult course for me - but probably the best course I've taken at UNC - as an undergraduate student, and as a graduate student.” (Nell Malone, summer 2012 Internet)
  • “Thank you for a wonderful class. EPID 600 has taught me to be more measured in my thinking and more slow to get excited about the newest nutrition "discovery." I'll wait for that systematic review paper to come out and read it carefully before jumping on the bandwagon. I am very grateful that all the Nutrition MPHers have to take this course, because our field is RIDDLED with fads and claims about "super-foods" or the "perfect diet." Now with epidemiology skills, we will be better at reading studies and understanding why we make recommendations to our patients. Basically, despite the work-load, this class was worth it. Frankly, it taught me how to think better. Thanks again, (2010 classroom student)”

Read more of what students have said about EPID160/EPID600 (All comments)

About EPID160/EPID600 (more about EPID160/EPID600)

According to the Institute of Medicine monograph The Future of Public Health, epidemiology is the basic science of public health. This course has been organized to allow public health students the opportunity to learn epidemiology by applying its concepts to current public health concerns, thereby experiencing epidemiology as the basic science of public health. The course is designed to require problem-based learning of epidemiological concepts and methods, so that students can use epidemiology as a scientific tool for addressing the health needs of the community.

The current edition of EPID160/EPID600 is based on a cooperative learning model developed by Carl M. Shy, M.D., Dr.P.H. and Lorraine Alexander, Dr.P.H., assisted by epidemiology doctoral students and consultants from the UNC Center for Teaching and Learning and the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. In this model, a major resource for learning is weekly small-group (“team”) meetings and discussions, organized around case studies, with a teaching assistant serving as a consultant.

EPID160/EPID600 is taught in two versions: on-campus (Classroom - section 001 plus one 600-level section) and Internet (any 900-level section or section 01W). The on-campus course is currently offered in fall and spring; the Internet course is currently offered fall and summer. The Internet course is a regular, 3-credit course, designed to be equivalent to the on-campus course and conducted on approximately the same schedule (view recent class schedules). Classroom students can register for the Internet course, but public health distance program students have priority to enroll.

“Dear Dr. Schoenbach,
“I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for your dedicated teaching in EPID 160 during Spring 2005. I am an MSPH candidate in HPAA, and I am currently doing an internship and will continue to work here as an RA through the academic year.
“I must admit that, throughout your class, I couldn't imagine how I might make direct use of epidemiology in a career in health policy. This morning, though, I've been reviewing a journal manuscript that uses risk ratios, sensitivities and specificities to assess the relationship between being up-to-date on immunizations and having received non-vaccine-related preventive services (being up-to-date is "testing positive"). I am so proud to say that I understood the concepts completely, and I was able to critically review the manuscript.
“Thanks so much for your careful and dedicated teaching!”
(S.B., Spring 2005)

Read more of what students are saying about EPID160/EPID600

Class times and locations

The classroom version of EPID600 has a weekly lecture on Tuesdays at 3:30pm-4:45pm in the Rosenau Auditorium (RO 133) and a weekly recitation section (“lab”) on Wednesday or Thursday at 4:00pm-5:50pm (rooms TBA). The Internet version has weekly recorded lectures, an optional weekly online “Live Meeting” with the instructor, case studies, quizzes, and weekly small group discussion forums.


The primary course materials for the Internet course consist of a textbook, a set of Powerpoint slides with verbatim speaker notes, and a set of case studies (most consisting of about a dozen questions on a published article). The textbook is Ann Aschengrau and George R. Seage, III. Essentials of epidemiology in public health. Jones and Bartlett, 2nd or 3rd edition. Vic has posted some comments on the textbook, including errata.

Important: If you purchase or borrow the course materials from a student who has already taken EPID600, be sure to check for differences from the current version, since lectures and case studies are substituted, refined, or corrected each semester. Also, you must not receive or retain instructor answers to case studies or past examinations (except for those given to you by an EPID600 instructor). If you have obtained or been given answers to EPID600 case studies or examinations you must inform the course instructor and turn the material in to her/him.


Computation of course grades is described in the course syllabus. Click "All semesters", above, to locate the syllabus for a specific semester. Grading may reflect peer evaluations of contributions by group members [see, for example, peer evaluation criteria].

Honor System

We expect all students to be familiar with the Honor System and to abide by the Honor Code of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (see studentconduct.unc.edu/honor-system). Your observance of the Honor Code makes this course possible. The EPID600 faculty take seriously our responsibility to report violations. Cheating on examinations is a widespread problem, and we employ measures to detect it. We have had to report a number of undergraduate and postgraduate students, in both classroom and Internet courses, for knowingly violating the Honor Code. If for any reason you find yourself tempted to do so, from a feeling of desperation or disenchantment, please call or write to me in confidence, so that I can suggest a better alternative. [Important: During the semester you will receive instructor answers to case study and examination questions. Please do not give these to people who will be taking EPID600. Having the answers while working on the questions compromises the learning process and could lead to a violation of the Honor Code. The instructor answers are for your use only. If you have received instructor answers from a student who has previously taken EPID600 please turn these over to the instructor now.]

Other (optional) resources

Dr. Schoenbach’s web-published “evolving” textbook is available in English (Understanding the fundamentals of epidemiology an evolving text) and Spanish (Comprendiendo los fundamentos de la epidemiología un texto en desarrollo), along with a list of published textbooks, past examinations from Dr. Schoenbach's previous introductory course, and numerous web site links for epidemiology, statistics, and related fields (see www.epidemiolog.net). Check out the page with data sources, such as the Census Bureau’s International Database with historical and projected demographic information on every country in the world. Several UNC-CH resources include Epidemiology On-line (an on-line source for epidemologic-related educational materials including: a bi-monthly epidemiology newsletter and on-line short courses), the North Carolina Institute for Public Health Training web site (with numerous audio tutorials including past lectures from EPID600). Web searches for specific topics frequently turn up many other on-line epidemiology resources. We also recommend the Department of Epidemiology seminars.

For handy references or to brush up your math or writing skills, check out:

Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Habla español? Parlez-vous français? Lei parla l'italiano? Spreekt u Nederlands? Fala português? Translate epidemiologic terms among Catalan, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish with Epilex. [Above translations courtesy of FreeTranslation.com; multilingual lecture greetings courtesy of TravLang Travel and Language Services and EPID600 alumni. Another terrific resource: Google Translate]


Lorraine K. Alexander, since spring 1994

Victor J. Schoenbach, classroom course: fall 2001 - spring 2013; Internet course: summer 2002 - fall 2016 and fall 2017

Karin B. Yeatts, classroom course: fall 2013 -

Debra E. Irwin, summer Internet course: 2017 -

Teaching assistants, 2001-2017

Previous instructors (since 1968)

For information about enrolling in EPID600, please inquire with the Epidemiology Student Services staff. For more information about the course, please write to:

Victor_Schoenbach@unc.edu (EPID600 Fall Internet course and this website)

Debra Irwin (EPID600 Summer Internet course)

Karin_Yeatts@unc.edu (EPID600 classroom course)



Last updated 4/27/2017, 5/14,18/2017, 6/8,18/2017, 10/4/2018, 5/27/2019, 4/22/2021