Occupational Epidemiology

Course content

This specialized course examines the application of epidemiologic methods to occupational health problems.

The course starts with a brief introduction to the organization of the Danish labor market and the historical background of the labor movement in Denmark. Students must be familiar with the broader labor policy context for occupational health, which is relevant for designing and conducting occupational epidemiologic research studies in Denmark.

The body of the course covers occupational exposures that include the psychosocial working environment, working hours, ergonomic exposures, inhalational exposures, chemical exposures, and atypical employment. These occupational exposures are discussed in relation to major public health challenges, including e.g. depression, musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory diseases, birth and reproductive outcomes, accidents, and cancer. In addition, the course addresses potentially vulnerable groups within the labor market such as young people, seniors, pregnant women, immigrants, and employees with chronic illness. Furthermore, an international perspective will be added with examples from extreme working conditions occurring in non-Western countries.

To draw a clear line toward research methods in epidemiology, the major study designs (SMR, cohort, case-control, cross-sectional in population and industrial settings) will be reviewed in the context of the occupational health problems. The course will also integrate critical assessment of methods used in occupational health research, dealing with issues of measurement error, unmeasured confounding by behavioral risk factors, selection bias including the “healthy worker effect”, effect modification and joint effects (including gene-environment interactions). Lastly, the course will also provide examples of advanced epidemiological and statistical methods applied in occupational epidemiologic research that stregthen causal interpretation and quantification of the exposure-response relationship.

The course schedule will also include a module outside of the University of Copenhagen at the NFA, formerly known as the National Research Centre for the Working Environment, where occupational epidemiologic research takes place in Denmark at the ministerial level.

The course consists of lectures and seminars with an emphasis on student participation and interactions between lecturers and students. Students are expected to actively contribute to group discussions. Furthermore, in groups all students are expected to prepare a presentation of a research paper from the course curriculum.


MSc in Public Health Science - elective course

MSc in Global Health - elective course

MSc in Health Informatics - elective course

MSc in Health Science - elective course

MSc in Human Biology - elective course

The course will also be open to PhD students. PhD student should apply as external students in order to obtain a slot in the course:


Learning outcome

After completing the course the student is expected to be able to:


  • Demonstrate understanding of major occupational health challenges that are covered by the course’s curriculum
  • Demonstrate understanding of core principles of epidemiology and causality
  • Demonstrate understanding of challenges in exposure assessment for occupational health
  • Demonstrate understanding of sources bias and confounding, including the healthy worker bias, that are common to occupational health studies
  • Demonstrate understanding of the various data sources (e.g. population registers, employer records, surveys) used in occupational health studies
  • Demonstrate understanding of effect modification and identification of susceptible groups


  • Critically evaluate and interpret the occupational epidemiologic literature, including matters related to design, exposure/outcome assessment, statistical methods, and interpretation of results
  • Identify sources of bias and confounding observed in occupational health studies
  • Orally communicate the design, methods, findings, and challenges of an occupational health research study


  • Discuss issues related to exposure/outcome assessment with occupational health experts
  • Discuss appropriate designs and statistical analyses in occupational health research studies
  • Evaluate and discuss causal interpretation of the evidence base for occupational health problems
  • Plan and carry out a scientific study on the effect of occupational exposures on the risk of positive and negative outcomes related to health

Lectures and seminars, including group work. Students should expect to prepare presentations of scientific papers in groups outside of the scheduled teaching hours.

The teaching material consists of text book chapters, scientific papers, and handouts from lecturers. Other materials such as questions for group work, cases, and tables/figures will also be included.

Participants are expected to be able to read and understand epidemiological, scientific papers, and they should be able to join group and class room discussions in English.

Applicants must have passed courses in epidemiology, biostatistics and environmental and occupational Health at BSc level equivalent to the courses "Introduktion til epidemiologi" (eng. Introduction to Epidemiology), "Introduktion til statistik" (eng. Introduction to Statistics), and "Miljøfaktorer, arbejdsmiljø og helbred" (eng. Environmental and Occupational Health) at the BSc in Public Health at University of Copenhagen.

If you are applying for the course as a credit transfer student, you must have passed courses in "Introduktion til epidemiologi" (eng. Introduction to Epidemiology), "Introduktion til statistik" (eng. Introduction to Statistics), and "Miljøfaktorer, arbejdsmiljø og helbred" (eng. Environmental and Occupational Health) at the BSc in Public Health at University of Copenhagen" or have obtained similar competencies by having passed another course at the same level and of the same scope within the subjects "epidemiology", "biostatistics", and "Occupational Health ”. Documentation for corresponding competencies in the form of a course description and an exam result must be attached to your application

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 30 under invigilation
Type of assessment details
Oral exam
All aids allowed



Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
One internal examiner
Exam period

Please see the exam schedule


Please see the exam schedule

Criteria for exam assessment

To achieve the maximum grade of 12, the student must be able to:


  • Describe the historical and societal context of labor policy and occupational health in Denmark
  • Describe the occupational exposures that are covered by the course’s curriculum, how these exposures can be measured, and provide examples of the health outcomes that they are associated with
  • Explain the fundamental epidemiologic principles (study designs, bias, confounding) in the context of occupational health research
  • Explain the analytical methodology used in occupational epidemiologic studies  
  • Explain what groups in the labor market that may be seen as particularly vulnerable to adverse occupational exposures



  • Assess the exposure profile of a specific occupational group/job type
  • Evaluate and strengths and limitations of study designs
  • Evaluate the strengths and limitations of methods for exposure and outcome assessment
  • Interpretation of research findings
  • Evaluate strengths and limitations of analytical approaches in occupational health studies
  • Identify sources of bias and confounding observed in occupational health studies

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 20
  • Preparation
  • 129
  • Seminar
  • 20
  • Exam Preparation
  • 100
  • Exam
  • 1
  • English
  • 270


Course number
Programme level
Full Degree Master
Part Time Master

1 semester

See the schedule in Syllabus.
40 students
The Study Board for Public Health Science and Global Health
Contracting department
  • Department of Public Health
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences
Course Coordinator
  • Marie Pedersen   (2-70734376787167316e7831676e)

Lecturers from Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospital, University of Aarhus and the Danish Cancer Research Society

Saved on the 08-04-2024

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Courseinformation of students