The Epidemiology and Biostatistics Division of WSPH has since 2000 established itself as an institution of choice for the provision of postgraduate training in epidemiology and biostatistics within the sub-Saharan African region and beyond. It has one course administrator and 8 academic members of staff. It is currently headed by Prof Tobias Chirwa.
The Division has excelled in providing outstanding Master of Science (MSc) graduates who are well sought after within South Africa and the region. The Division recognises the need to maintain excellence in teaching and through experiences and lessons from the successful existing MSc Epidemiology programme. From 2012, it introduced an MSc in Infectious Disease Epidemiology as a new field of study, and will from 2014 run new programmes in Biostatistics and Research Data Management.
The Division also provides teaching and research support to postgraduate students at the Wits Faculty of Health Sciences (WFHS) and the inter-disciplinary Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA) PhD programme.
The Division has disseminated a collective total of 51 publications in peer-reviewed journals in the period 2010/11. The Division is continuing to contribute to collaborative research on infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases, including environmental and occupational exposures.
The Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics of WSPH offers a Master of Science in Epidemiology to provide training in the principles and practice underlying the discipline of epidemiology. There are currently three fields of study within the MSc programme:
Epidemiology is fundamental to clinical and community medicine and public health. In combination with basic medical science and clinical research, epidemiology provides the tools with which we can learn more about the aetiology and effects of disease, the opportunities for prevention, the cost and effectiveness of various diagnostic and therapeutic approaches, and the health status and risks of individuals and populations.
The epidemiology courses are well-evaluated and internationally recognized and reflect the values of the School of promoting equity and human rights, and responding meaningfully to the needs of the people on the African continent.
Graduates enter careers in medical research, public health and community medicine, field-based scientific research, government, NGO’s or international agencies.
The course administrator is Mrs Angeline Zwane.
By the end of the course, students should be able to:
i) conceptualize epidemiologic approaches to understand the causes of ill health in population-based research;
ii) critically synthesise published literature in epidemiology and biostatistics;
iii) design and conduct epidemiological studies;
iv) conduct sample size estimation for basic epidemiologic study designs;
v) choose appropriate statistical techniques and perform analysis of data from epidemiological studies, and
vi) conduct appropriate and effective dissemination of scientific findings.
The MSc in Epidemiology is offered as a full-time degree over 18 months or as a part-time degree over three years and consists of course work and a research project. The fields of study on offer are:
This field of study offers core course training in epidemiology and biostatistics, research ethics, protocol development, demography and surveillance and allows students to select optional four one-week modules in public health, project management, chronic disease epidemiology, infectious disease epidemiology, clinical epidemiology and additional topics according to their interest and intended area of specialisation.
For students who wish to pursue a career in research, this one year full-time (3 years part-time) masters’ course includes extensive computer-based training in epidemiology and biostatistics.
This field of study offers core training in epidemiology, biostatistics, demography, data management and leadership skills, research ethics, protocol development, and applied field epidemiology. The course is complemented by a research project conducted during a 6-month field placement period in an INDEPTH-affiliated Health and Demographic Surveillance Site in South Africa, Ghana or Tanzania. It develops the capacity of researchers in longitudinal data management in order to respond to the key public health challenges of the developing countries. Coursework is 12 months full time with a 6-month field placement. There are a limited number of fellowships available through INDEPTH NETWORK and also from TDR/WHO.
This offers core course training in epidemiology, biostatistics and surveillance with emphasis on infectious disease epidemiology and modelling in infectious diseases. It is complemented by one-week modules in research ethics, protocol development, clinical trials and statistical analysis of clinical trials and two one-week electives according to students choice.
All Masters students are required undertake a research project. The research constitutes 50% of the MPH degree and 25% of the MSc degree respectively. The research process commences during MPH Part II and MSc Part I when students develop a protocol. The protocol needs to be submitted to, and approved by, the post-graduate protocol assessor group. Click here for the form that must be completed and signed by your supervisor and submitted to the research administrator prior to submission.
The protocol assessor groups are organised by the Post Graduate Research Co-ordinator of the School of Public Health. The purpose of the assessor groups is to review students’ protocols in order to guide them on the quality of their research. Each student is allocated 30 minutes during which time he/she presents a short overview of the protocol and the assessors ask questions and raise concerns about various aspects of the protocol, including the depth and scope of the literature review, the methodology to be employed and the implementation of the study. At the end of the meeting, the assessor group makes one of four decisions regarding the student’s protocol:
The protocol assessor group comprises four members. One member is a Faculty of Health Sciences representative and the other three are SPH staff members, either full-time or honorary. The group is always chaired by a SPH staff member. Click here for a timetable of the 2013 assessor group meetings.
Before the research is undertaken, and after the protocol has been approved by the assessor committee/group, the student must submit the protocol for consideration to the Human Research Ethics Committee (Medical). Click here for the checklist, application form, and submission dates.
Who qualifies for the MSc Epidemiology?
Applicants must have a four-year honours degree, an MBBCh or other health related degree. Relevant work experience will be an advantage. This degree will appeal to students who want to become more involved in research in their fields. Students come from a range of disciplinary backgrounds including medical, microbiology, dentistry, statistics, veterinary science and demography.
Postgraduate Application Forms are available from:
The Postgraduate Officer
Faculty of Health Sciences
7 York Road
Tel: 27 11 717 2076; Fax: 27 11 717 2119; e-mail: email@example.com.
Applications must include:
Written motivation by the applicant detailing motivation for applying for the course and how the program fits with their overall career goals.
Closing date for applications is 31 July of the year prior to that for which admission is sought.
Download the documents in the application pack by clicking on the files below:
Application instruction letter
International clearance information
International fees quotation form
Medical aid cover
MSc Referees report
Residence application form
Frequently Asked Questions