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Epidemiology and animal health economics


This course will provide you with an overview of analytical methods relevant in the context of animal disease control and livestock production. It will give you a basic introduction to statistical analysis, and a fairly comprehensive overview of veterinary epidemiology and animal health economics.

Topics covered

The course consists of 14 units of study, all of which you should complete. They make up the following three modules.

Section 1 Introduction to Statistics

In the introductory module (Units 1–3), basic statistical methods will be introduced, starting with descriptive statistics and general probability theory in Unit 1. The next unit covers estimation and hypothesis testing: this will involve the application of methods of statistical inference. The last unit discusses different types of studies and their design considerations, as well as regression analysis and non-parametric techniques.

Section 2 Introduction to Veterinary Epidemiology

The second module (Units 4–10) provides an overview of veterinary epidemiology. It begins with an introduction to the principles of epidemiological investigation, followed by descriptive epidemiological measures. Units 6 and 7 discuss the design and analysis of epidemiological studies, and Unit 8 explains a range of concepts relating to interpretation of diagnostic tests. Unit 9 introduces statistical aspects of sampling animal populations, and the module is completed by an overview of animal disease information management.

Section 3 Introduction to Animal Health Economics

The third module (Units 11–14) will allow you to explore various economic aspects of animal health and production. Unit 11 provides a general introduction to the main basic economic concepts used in economic analysis, and you will learn about economic tools for decision-making in Units 12 and 13. The last unit focuses on examples of applications of economic analysis at the farm and the project level.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course you should be able to:

  • conduct basic statistical analyses through the application of parametric and nonparametric methods
  • apply relevant descriptive epidemiological measures
  • explain the methods used to design and analyse epidemiological studies
  • integrate quantitative knowledge of diagnostic test uncertainty into diagnostic decision making
  • conduct basic economic analyses of animal health problems at farm level and national project level
  • critically review publications addressing cause–effect relationships


Your work for this course will be assessed by means of a three-hour unseen written examination paper which will take the form of essay questions. In addition, you must submit at least one and up to three TMAs.

The grade awarded will be based on the mark obtained in the written examination (80%) and on the mark for the compulsory TMA (20%).