Module: Epidemiology in Livestock Production

Module details

  • Module code

  • Module leader

    Katharina Giebel
  • Module Level

  • Module credits

  • Min study time

  • Contact hrs

    36 (Scheduled teaching- 33 hours and visits – 1 x 3 hours)
  • Teaching Period

    Semester 1

Module content

With an increased emphasis being placed on food security, traceability and high health and welfare status, the understanding of how populations of animals respond to disease threats is of increasing importance. Couple this with the threat posed by developing resistance and resilience to drugs routinely used to treat disease, we have to look at alternative ways to mitigate and control the threat to production animals from pathogens.

The module begins by introducing the principle aims of epidemiological studies, defining the key terms and metrics common in describing disease patterns, and outlining the methodologies used to obtain them. Limitations, sources of error and areas of bias are all discussed and case studies used to examine these aspects in detail.

The module then moves on to look at how epidemiological outputs are used in the management of existing disease threats, and how theoretical understanding translates into practical application. A variety of current case studies will be used to illustrate disease management approaches, with a range of tools, husbandry protocols, technology and analytics investigated. These principles will then be applied to emerging and evolving threats to a populations’ health status, with a particular focus on the developing resistance and resilience to a range of medicines and antimicrobial products currently routinely used.

Throughout the module students will be actively encouraged to engage with current research in this (in some cases fast moving) environment and will develop their skills in independence of thought, critical evaluation and reasoning.

Module outcomes

To achieve credit for this module, students must be able to:

  1. Recognise and appraise key epidemiological concepts
  2. Critique the factors that determine the spatial, temporal and social distributions of communicable diseases
  3. Evaluate the impact of epidemiological outputs on existing disease management strategies in populations of economically important animals
  4. Evaluate practical applications of epidemiological methods through the study of research papers on relevant diseases
  5. Identify and evaluate the potential for impact of new and evolving threats to animal health


Assessment Description Weighting
First Sit Coursework1 - Infographic (outcomes 1, 4, 5) - 60%/ Coursework 2 - Group presentation (outcomes 2, 3, 5) - 40% 100%
Referral (capped at 40%) Coursework 1 - Resubmission of infographic- 60%/ Coursework 2 - Self-reflection and evaluation on failed elements of presentation- 40% 100%

Key texts

  • Royal Society. (n.d.). Infectious diseases in livestock: scientific questions relating to the transmission, prevention and control of epidemic outbreaks of infectious disease in livestock in Great Britain. Royal Society, 2002.
  • Sergeant, Evan, & Perkins, Nigel. (n.d.). Epidemiology for field veterinarians: an introduction. CABI Publishing, 2012.
  • Thrusfield, Michael. (n.d.). Veterinary epidemiology (3rd ed.). Blackwell Science, 2007.

Supporting texts

  • Delahay, Richard J (ed); Smith, Graham C (ed), & HUTCHINGS, Michael R (ed). (n.d.). Management of disease in wild mammals. Springer, 2009.
  • European Commission. (n.d.). A decade of EU-funded animal health research. European Union, 2012. 
  • Home: OIE - World Organisation for Animal Health. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  • Journal of Epidemiology. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  • Wall, B A. (n.d.). Drivers, dynamics and epidemiology of antimicrobial resistance in animal production. Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 2016.