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Unit information: Molecular Epidemiology in 2021/22

Unit name Molecular Epidemiology
Unit code BRMSM0037
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Zuccolo
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Medical School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

The aims of this unit are to:

  • Introduce students to high-throughput molecular data commonly used in non-communicable disease epidemiology
  • Explain the different ways in which these data can be used in large scale epidemiological studies, including for exposure assessment, disease prediction and to help with causal inference and mechanistic insights (eg Mendelian randomization).
  • Describe the design and challenges of both genome-wide and epigenome-wide association studies and how to interpret their results.

Both genetic and non-genetic molecular data will be discussed.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, students should be able to:

  1. Describe the design and challenges of genome-wide and epigenome-wide association studies
  2. Interpret results from genome-wide and epigenome-wide association studies
  3. Give examples of how molecular data can be used in epidemiological studies of non-communicable disease, including appropriate study design and analysis strategy
  4. Critically evaluate scientific papers that use molecular data in non-communicable disease epidemiology

Teaching Information

Teaching will include learning activities set by the tutor including lectures, small group work, discussions, individual tasks, and practical activities.

Directed and self-directed learning will include activities such as reading, accessing web-based supplementary materials, critical analysis and completion of assessments

Assessment Information

Formative assessment will support student learning by using informal questioning, quizzes and group exercises in weekly sessions online and off-line. These form an assessment for learning and will not contribute to the final unit mark. Students will also complete a (formative) exercise half-way through the Unit, where they will critically appraise a published molecular epidemiology study.

Summative assessment: The unit will be assessed using a single piece of coursework:

  • Mix of short answer questions and MCQs (single best answer). These will cover problem-based questions, results interpretation, and critical appraisal (ILOs 1-4; 100% of total unit mark).

A mark of 50% is required to pass the unit.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. BRMSM0037).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.