Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Biostatistics STATS4006

  • Academic Session: 2021-22
  • School: School of Mathematics and Statistics
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

This course covers statistical methods and concepts relevant to problems in medicine, especially in clinical trials and epidemiological studies, and discusses the principal ethical issues that arise. It also covers survival analysis as a means of modelling measurements made over an interval of time.


20 lectures

fortnightly tutorials

2 two-hour practical sessions

Requirements of Entry

The normal requirement is that students should have been admitted to an Honours- or Master's-level programme in Statistics.

Excluded Courses

STATS3012 Statistics 3B: Biostatistics

STATS5015 Biostatistics (Level M)


Courses prescribed in the Honours- or Master's-level programme to which the student has been admitted.


90 minute, end of course examination (100%)

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

To train students in the application of statistical methods and concepts to problems in medicine, especially in clinical trials and epidemiological studies, and to discuss the principal ethical issues that arise

To introduce survival analysis as a means of modelling measurements made over an interval of time, such as the survival time of a patient (time from treatment to death).

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ describe a range of biostatistical study designs, describe their key features, and determine the appropriateness of each one for real epidemiological investigations.

■ describe a range of summary statistics and simple statistical models used to quantify biostatistical data, and be able to apply these to real data.

■ describe measures for quantifying the impact of a covariate factor on disease risk, and compute and interpret them in real epidemiological studies.

■ describe the key features of survival data, the Kaplan Meier estimator and the proportional hazards model, and be able to apply them to real data.

■ calculate appropriate sample sizes for clinical trials and interpret them in the context of real clinical trials.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.