• Class Number 9762
  • Term Code 2960
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Benjamin Polkinghorne
    • Benjamin Polkinghorne
    • Dr Philippa Binns
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/07/2019
  • Class End Date 25/10/2019
  • Census Date 31/08/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 29/07/2019
SELT Survey Results

  • Do you have an interest in how outbreaks of communicable diseases are investigated and controlled?

  • Do you currently work or want to work in the area of outbreak investigation?

  • Do you want to learn from experienced practitioners in the field?

This course is designed to equip participants with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills required to undertake investigation and control of outbreaks in the field.  Through the course, the emphasis will be on applying  knowledge and concepts to scenarios based on real-life outbreaks.  Teaching will be through case studies, lectures and small group tutorials.

Topics will include:

  • The fundamental steps in investigating an outbreak

  • Study designs used in outbreak investigations

  • Analysis of data from outbreak investigations using Epi Info

  • Specific considerations of investigating outbreaks of foodborne, waterborne and respiratory disease

  • Social and ecological factors in outbreak emergence and control

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

On satisfying the requirements of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

1.      Devise and execute the necessary steps in a simple outbreak investigation, and be able to support a more complex one
2.      Compile a line listing, formulate a case definition and draw an epi curve
3.      Design and appraise analytical studies used in outbreak investigations
4.      Analyse and interpret outbreak investigation data using Epi Info
5.      Communicate outbreak investigation findings to a  scientific audience
6.      Identify appropriate outbreak control measures for important diseases at a local, national and international level
7.      Describe key pieces of public health legislation and guidelines relevant to outbreak investigation
8.      Recognise indicators of a potential disease outbreak

Research-Led Teaching

Outbreaks of communicable diseases have been recorded throughout history, and continue to cause morbidity and mortality today. This subject is designed to equip participants with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills required to undertake investigation and control of outbreaks in the field. Through the subject, the emphasis will be on applying knowledge and concepts to scenarios based on real-life outbreaks. Teaching will be through interactive sessions based on case studies, lectures and small group tutorials.

Field Trips


Additional Course Costs


Examination Material or equipment

Computer with access to WATTLE for the online quiz.

Required Resources

The prescribed text is: Michael Gregg (Ed). Field Epidemiology (3rd Edition) Oxford University Press, New York 2008. ISBN: 978-0-19-531380-2 This is a practical book that focuses predominantly on outbreak investigations and infectious diseases but covers a number of other topics also relevant to applied epidemiology.

The Data Analysis sessions during the short course requires you to have access to a laptop loaded with Epi Info™ (the most recent version being 7.2). This is freely downloadable software, available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at: http://www.cdc.gov/epiinfo/ Epi Info™ should be downloaded onto your computer before the sessions. Unfortunately, there is no Mac version of Epi Info™ at this time. You can operate Epi Info on a Mac if you have another program to convert your Mac to a pc operating environment (eg VM Fusion or similar).

Students may also find the following texts useful:

Porta M. A Dictionary of Epidemiology (6th Ed). New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. The updated edition of this classic text, sponsored by the International Epidemiological Association (IEA) and previously edited by John Last, remains the definitive dictionary in epidemiology worldwide.

Bonita R, Beaglehole R and Kjellstrom T Basic Epidemiology 2nd Ed World Health Organization 2008 This freely available online book provides a good grounding in epidemiological concepts and will be particularly useful for anyone needing to revise their basic epidemiology skills.

Giesecke J. Modern Infectious Diseases Epidemiology 2nd Edition 2002 This book provides clear explanations of many aspects of infectious diseases epidemiology

David L Heymann (Ed) Control of Communicable Diseases Manual 20th Edition American Public Health Association, Washington DC 2014 This practical handbook, which summarises the relevant information about important pathogens, can be found in most public health units in the world.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 All teaching is delivered within a 1 week courseblock intensive from 9-13 September. Assessment is then spread across the remainder of the semester and the course convener and lecturer will be available for a least a few hours each week for students to discuss assessements etc. The week long intensive involves lectures and case studies

Tutorial Registration


Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Courseblock participation 10 % 13/09/2019 20/09/2019 2, 4, 6, 7, 8
Online quiz 25 % 19/09/2019 20/09/2019 1, 3, 4, 6, 8
Outbreak investigation proposal 25 % 06/10/2019 31/10/2019 1, 3, 8
Outbreak investigation report 25 % 20/10/2019 08/11/2019 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Critical analysis 15 % 03/11/2019 15/11/2019 3, 5, 8

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website. In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Attendance and active participation in each day of a five day intensive program. Students will need to work in groups through case studies.



Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 13/09/2019
Return of Assessment: 20/09/2019
Learning Outcomes: 2, 4, 6, 7, 8

Courseblock participation

Contribution to discussions and group work during course block intensive.

Outbreak investigations are a collaborative activity so teamwork and oral communication are crucial skills. Students will be allocated into small teams throughout the week to work through case studies. Active participation in these case studies will be monitored. There will be several unmarked short formative quizzes which all students must respond to, to ensure understanding of basic concepts. At the end of the week students in their groups will develop a written outbreak Situation Report and present it orally. Each student must participate in the oral presentation.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 19/09/2019
Return of Assessment: 20/09/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 3, 4, 6, 8

Online quiz

The Online Assessment will comprise a number of questions to assess your knowledge of the material covered during the intensive. The Online Assessment will be available on WATTLE for a 48 hour period. You are required to log into the course WATTLE site sometime during this period to complete the assessment. There will be a 2 hour time limit to complete the assessment once you have ‘logged in’. Once logged in, you must continue until you have completed the assessment as only one log in per student is allowed. You are to complete this independently of other students.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 06/10/2019
Return of Assessment: 31/10/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 3, 8

Outbreak investigation proposal

The Outbreak Investigation Proposal is intended to assess your application of the fundamental concepts of this course, as well as give you the opportunity to develop practical skills in writing study proposals. A good proposal is a key part of any investigation; like a map in a strange place it tells you where you are going and how you are going to get there. You will be able to choose one of two supplied outbreak scenarios and your task is to write a proposal for investigating the outbreak. The Outbreak Investigation Proposal should be between 1000 - 1500 words, not including references or headings.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 20/10/2019
Return of Assessment: 08/11/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Outbreak investigation report

After the Outbreak Proposal has been submitted, you will be provided with further information on your outbreak scenario and an excel spread sheet of the data. You need to analyse these data and integrate your results with the further information on your scenario (note you need to use the same scenario as you used for your proposal). The intended audience for this report is other public health staff in your jurisdiction. The Outbreak Report should be 1500 - 2000 words (not including figures, tables and references).

Assessment Task 5

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 03/11/2019
Return of Assessment: 15/11/2019
Learning Outcomes: 3, 5, 8

Critical analysis

The purpose of completing this paper is to assess student skills in critical understanding of factors influencing outbreak causes, investigations and response.

It will be a 1500-2000 word essay style discussion paper analysing a journal paper and answering questions as provided on WATTLE.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for the quiz without an extension.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

All details for the quiz and the assignments will listed on WATTLE and they will all be submitted via WATTLE as well.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

Resubmission of assignments will not be permitted.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Benjamin Polkinghorne

Research Interests

applied epidemiology and surveillance, foodborne disease, OneHealth

Benjamin Polkinghorne

Thursday 09:00 11:00
Benjamin Polkinghorne

Research Interests

Benjamin Polkinghorne

Thursday 09:00 11:00
Dr Philippa Binns

Research Interests

Dr Philippa Binns

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions