MEDFL5580 – Epidemiological methods, beyond the basics

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

The course introduces causal graphs (DAGs) and modern designs in epidemiology. It also introduces multilevel analysis and will give a user oriented introduction to handling of missing data (by multiple imputation) in Stata. It also covers the use of splines to handle non-linearity in regressions.

Learning outcome

The course has five main subjects:Causal graphs (DAGs), Modern Designs, Multiple Imputation, splines in regressions and Multilevel models. Also included are three minor subjects: Interaction, register epidemiology and an introduction to Stata.

Causal graphs introduce Directed Acyclic Graphs (DAGs) and will show examples of their use in medical research. DAGs are useful tools for understanding confounding, mediation and selection bias. A DAG analysis shows variables that should be adjusted for, and variables that should not be adjusted for.

The Design part will review classic research designs; cross sectional, cohort and case control. Focus will be on more advanced designs such as nested case control, case cohort and cross over designs. Strengths and weaknesses of the different designs will be discussed and examples of the different designs presented.

Multiple imputation: The lecture gives a short introduction to different missing-data mechanisms and how to handle missing data. The focus will be on multiple imputation, describing the concept of the method, how to choose a suitable imputation model, statistical inference, and challenges. Relevant Stata commands will be given and demonstrated through some examples.

Continuous variables and Splines: Categorizing continuous variables in a regression leads to loss of power. Instead, non-linear effects can be handled by using splines. We will provide Stata commands and examples of use.

Multilevel models gives an introduction to studies that lead to hierarchical data, what problem this gives in the analysis, and how to solve them. Focus is more on the interpretation of results than on the technical aspects of multi-level analysis.

The three last sessions will include workshops using Stata. Please bring your own laptops. Students associated with UiO will get access to Stata (via kiosk). We can work 2-3 persons per computer.



MEDFL5580 is restricted to students at the Medical Student Research Programme at the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Dentistry, UiO.

Students apply in StudentWeb.

Enrollment to this course is automatically registered in StudentWeb. Applicants will be notified immediately if their application to the course is granted.

The courses MEDFL5580 and MF9580 have common admission.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

The course is intended for students with knowledge of basic epidemiological methods, and possibly some experience with analysis of data.

Recommended previous knowledge

MF9230 Course in Clinical, Epidemiological and Community Medicine or other introductory courses in epidemiology.

Recommended reading

Epidemiology – An Introduction. Ed. Kenneth J. Rothman, 2002.

Overlapping courses

4 credits overlap with MF9580 – Epidemiological methods, beyond the basics


The course last for 5 days, every day from 9:00 to 16:00


A take-home exam will be given at the end of the course.

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit your assignment.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a pass/fail scale. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Every spring


Spring 2020

16.3. - 20.3.

Application period

1.12.2019 - 1.2.2020

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Registration type

Automatic reply in StudentWeb



Every spring

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