Postgraduate taught 

Quantitative Methods in Biodiversity, Conservation & Epidemiology MSc

Infectious Disease Ecology and the Dynamics of Emerging Disease BIOL5123

  • Academic Session: 2021-22
  • School: Biodiversity Animal Health Comp Med
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

Introduction to fundamental theory of micro and macroparasites models, and applications to disease control in livestock and wildlife


Concentrated course offered over one week, with 1 hour lecture and 2 hours computer laboratory per day.

Excluded Courses





Students will write submit annotated code and reports generated in R from small assignments during the module, reflecting participation and competencies learned in practical computer laboratories (50%).  The remaining 50% will be independent assignment completed after the module that will require integration of the evidence-based knowledge and skills learned, involving direct application of programming skills obtained

Course Aims

The aim of this course is to equip students with the mathematical and programming skills and theoretical background to be able to create simple epidemiological models, to interpret their outputs and to be able to critically evaluate published papers on infectious disease dynamics.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to critically discuss with respect to literature and theoretical background:

■ The value of currently used standard epidemiological models

■ The distinction between: frequency and density-dependent transmission; micro and macroparasite models

■ The concept of herd immunity

■ The principles behind standard vaccination strategies

■ The distinction between and appropriate use of stochastic and deterministic formulations

■ The definition and conceptual framework for the basic reproduction number

■ The concept of critical community size

■ The context for use of metapopulation models

■ Impacts of host heterogeneity on infection dynamics

■ The use of standard model types in the epidemiological literature


In addition, they will be able to:

■ Program standard epidemiological models in R and interpret outputs

■ Calculate the basic reproduction number for simple epidemiological models

■ Identify and interpret equilibria in standard epidemiological models

■ Generate a mathematical description of an infection dynamics model for a problem of their own choice

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.