School of Population Health

Biostatistics (PHCM2002)


Biostatistics is an introductory course to statistical methods used in the healthcare field. This course introduces students to the quantitative methods that are the cornerstone of public health research and evidence-based public health policy and practice. Students will learn about the principles of statistical reasoning, underlying assumptions, and methods to analyze and interpret data.

Credit points

This is a core course in the Bachelor of International Public Health (3880) comprising 6 units of credit towards the total required for completion of the study program.

Mode of study

Fully online.


There are no pre-requisites for this course, however, it is advised that you have a solid understanding of mathematics.

Course aim

The course aims to introduce students to key biostatical concepts, and to develop biostatistical skills to a level that allows independently analyse data and the production of meaningful information.

Course learning outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify and apply appropriate statistical tests to analyse data and produce information.
  • Compare, critically judge and justify why one statistical method should be used over another.
  • Interpret and explain the results of statistical analysis.
  • Relate the practice of biostatistics to real world situations.
Learning and teaching rationale

This course has been designed to support you gain the fundamental knowledge and skills for applying biostatistics. This course uses learning activities and assessment tasks that reflect the learning outcomes of the course and that draw on real-world examples. This course applies a ‘constructivist approach to teaching and learning. That is, lessons, activities, and assessment tasks have been developed to align with the course’s learning outcomes. The material you will cover will first introduce a concept or technique before demonstrating it. You will then be required to apply the concept yourself and relate it to real-world situations. It is anticipated that you will not only develop technical skills in biostatistics but also understand how these skills are used to address real world public health problems.

Students are expected to spend 10-12 hours per week preparing for, actively participating in this course, and completing assignment tasks. Please note that biostatistics is a challenging course and you are advised to ensure you make adequate time available for your study of it. If you find statistics challenging, you should allow additional time.


Assessment Task 1 - Forum contributions
Length: Moodle forum discussions and activities x 5
Weighting: 10%

Assessment Task 2 - Quizzes 1-2
Length: Multiple choice and numeric questions
Weighting: 15%

Assessment Task 3 - Statistical analysis using SPSS
Length: Short Answer
Weighting: 35%

Assessment Task 4 - Exam
Length: 2 hour exam with practical problems
Weighting: 40%

Readings and resources

The required textbook for this course is: Sullivan L.M. (2014) Essentials of biostatistics in public health (3rd edition) Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

You may purchase a hardcopy of the textbook from the UNSW Bookshop or online. The approximate cost of the textbook is AUD158/USD112. An online versions of the textbook is available and can be purchased directly from the publisher for an approximate cost of AUD116/USD86 at

Note: you will be referring to the textbook throughout the course, and during open book exams. As such, you are strongly encouraged to have a hardcopy (either published or printed) version of the textbook.