Study Design in Veterinary Epidemiological Research

As one of the very few online medical courses in veterinary epidemiology that is available, this course is highly suitable for veterinary researchers with an interest in epidemiology, who want to understand the concepts of epidemiology and apply these concepts in data analysis. It is taught by epidemiologists from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, and forms part of the MSc Epidemiology program of the UMC Utrecht and Utrecht University.

Dr. ir. E.A.J. (Egil) Fischer
Assistant Professor infectious disease dynamics
Quick overview
  • 3 weeks - 14 hrs / wk
  • Academic Certificate
  • 1.5 EC
  • Online
  • English
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Enrollment closes 31/03/2025 284 days left to apply
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Course description

This course teaches study design for veterinary epidemiological research, focusing on those
aspects specific to animal health. You will encounter typical confounders in veterinary
epidemiology, such as breed and parity, but also get to work with clustered sampling, such as
by farm, and diagnostics without a gold standard. During the course, you will learn that these
concepts are relevant for human epidemiology as well.

You will learn to apply epidemiological know-how and statistical methods during hands-on
computer practical and lectures.

Veterinary Epidemiology is broad concept therefore there were multiple online courses created. These courses can be ordered in a bundle. This bundle consists out of 3 online courses: Study Design in Veterinary Epidemiology, Epidemiology of Animal Infectious Diseases and Hands-on Veterinary Epidemiology. The bundle offers 20% discount, read more about it here.

Learning objectives

By the end of the course, you will be able to:
Understand the specific issues in veterinary epidemiology, such as clustered occurrence of disease, specific veterinary confounders, such as breed and parity
Be able to analyse a veterinary data set following a structured approach
Understand and be able to describe study designs for diagnostic test evaluation with and without gold standard
 Recognize sampling schemes for prevalence estimation and to determine freedom-from-disease, and do power-calculations for basic sampling designs

Course topics

 Disease causation
 Analysis of Veterinary Data
 Study Design
 Diagnostic Testing
 Diagnostic test evaluation without gold standard


To successfully complete this course, you need pass the final exam. The exam will consist of a series of essay questions. The exam focusses on insight. There will be a part similar to some of the questions in practical LU2 and LU4 (30%), and insight questions on the other topics; Study design and Sampling (30%), Diagnostic tests (30%) and Disease causation (10%).

The exams are, by default, online using online proctoring. If you wish to take the exam on-site in Utrecht, the Netherlands, this is possible as well.

Exam edition April 2024
The exam will take place on April 26th, 2024 from 14:15 – 16:15 CET. The re-examination will take place on June 14th, 2024 from 14:15 – 16:15 CET. Note: these times might be subject to change. The exact time and place will be announced as soon as possible in the learning environment and any changes announced there will overrule the information here.

Requirements & material

To enroll in this course, you need:
• Completed course Modern Methods in Data Analysis (or equivalent course)
• Basic Skill in R (or in another computer language such as Python or C++)
• Sufficient proficiency in English reading and writing

For this course, the following book is used:
‘Veterinary Epidemiology: An Introduction’ by Dirk Pfeiffer, 2010. ISBN: 978-1-4051-7694-1
The book by Dirk Pfeiffer is also available as a PDF file for participants in this course. You can download the book in the learning activities.

For further and more in-depth reading, we recommend:
‘Veterinary Epidemiologic Research, Second Edition’ by Ian Dohoo, Wayne Martin & Henrik Stryhn (2010) – ISBN-13: 978-0-919013-60-5

For Dutch speaking students we additionally advise:
‘ Een inleiding tot de veterinaire epidemiologie’’ by Jeroen Dewulf (2017) – ISBN: 9789463440387

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