Understanding the role of epidemiology and biostatistics in public health


Faculty: Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care
School: School of Allied Health
Course:MSc Public Health
Category: Student Ambassador

2 July 2021

MSc Public Health student Divya has recently studied a module on epidemiology and biostatistics. In this blog, she explains what these fields are and how the module has been taught effectively.

What is epidemiology?

Epidemiology is a study that mainly deals with two important aspects: distribution and determinants of disease:

  • distribution – frequency and pattern of the specific disease
  • determinants – causes and the risk factors related to the disease.

Epidemiology may focus on a specific population like a neighbourhood, school, city, state, or country.

Epidemiologists are vital because they help paint a picture of what a disease does and how it can be prevented and treated. They study the following elements:

  • cause of the disease
  • neighbourhood, city, state, country and global spread
  • health impact of the disease
  • disease frequency and pattern
  • socioeconomic impact of the disease.

What is biostatistics?

Biostatistics is the discipline that deals with the collection, organisation, analysis, interpretation and presentation of data. It is considered as one of the foundational disciplines in public health.

Biostatisticians are those who may study diseases, disorders and health risks associated with certain behaviours or with the local environment:

  • some statistical researchers focus on particular population
  • some look at a specific health concern
  • some encompass the study of environmental factors.

Quantitative and qualitative research is conducted by biostatisticians in order to identify health trends of a population and risk factors. This includes several methodologies like:

  • surveys
  • case studies
  • focus groups
  • clinical trails
  • field observation
  • laboratory experiments

Through these methods, biostatisticians collect and analyse data which will help them find out how different diseases originate or spread, with the help of statistically significant conclusions. All these help in the control, prevention and eradication of the disease.

How does ARU teach epidemiology and biostatistics?

Lecturers in epidemiology and biostatistics are so friendly and help students inside and outside of teaching, making us familiar with all the services provided by ARU to help us develop.

They train us to become independent and that made me confident in my subject. They engage us in all the academic events depending on the interest of the student and help all students improve their skillset. 

The way my lecturer teaches makes me think about particular modules more; he provided all the sources, PowerPoint presentations and reading lists. ARU also gives us the access to SPSS, which is an expensive software, and a great opportunity to learn a new statistical program. The assessment helped me develop my knowledge in this field irrespective of my grades.

The way they provide supervision is incredible. They will arrange tutorial sessions which are so helpful. The lecturer will try to make all the students speak and make the session interactive. Those sessions are very useful for students as we can learn something from each other’s work (and doubts). It encourages us to do our work in a better way.

If we have done a good job they will support us a lot and encourage us to improve by sharing our work. For example: encouraging students to showcase our research work in conferences, and helping me to have my research article published in a journal.

The delivery of teaching, even if it is online, is made interesting. Our lecturer made all the students feel comfortable and involved everyone in the session; we’re confident about asking questions. The way he made us learn the module was extraordinary as he created groups, conducted competitions, quizzes and mock tests. I’m sure this particular module will be one of my favourites in my Masters; for me, it’s really created an interest in epidemiology and biostatistics.


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