340.705.01 | AY 2013-2014 - 3rd Term | 3 Credit(s)
TTh 1:30:00 PM
  • Contact Information
    Thomas Glass
  • Course Learning Objectives

    Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

    • Define and describe the origins, history, and major approaches to the study of social conditions as determinants of health at the population level
    • Identify and describe 7 distinct core areas of research within the field
    • Distinguish between and apply leading theories that have guided the field of social epidemiology
    • Apply concepts, theories and methods from the field of social epidemiology to a research problem of interest to the student
    • Construct theoretical arguments and select appropriate methods for analyzing the influence of upstream social processes on population health
    • Operate within a seminar course format
  • Course Description

    This advanced seminar is designed to offer doctoral students an opportunity to synthesize theories and methodologies from the social and behavioral sciences and epidemiology.  The emphasis is on combining theoretical and methodological ideas and tools.  The course will highlight current controversies and practices in the evolving field of social epidemiology.  Topics to be covered include: a) the role of theory in epidemiology, b) fundamental causes and the problem of “distality”, c) how do social factors get into the body, d) modeling of social factors and health, and e) area-based influences on health.  This course is oriented toward research rather than practice. 

  • Intended Audience
    Ideally suited to doctoral or post-doctoral students in 2nd year or beyond, with graduate experience in behavioral or social science.

    Additional Faculty Notes:
    Doctoral students and post-docs do not require instructor consent. Advanced masters students should consult with the course instructor prior to enrolling.

  • Methods of Assessment

    Writing assignments, paper, lab reports, class participation.

    Additional Faculty Notes:

    The final grade will be based on the following scheme:

    Quality and quantity of in-class participation:       25%

    Lab report:                                                             25%

    Final paper:                                                            50%

    Late assignment policy: Final papers are due at a pre-specified date and time.  Papers received after that date/time will be penalized for each day they are late unless permission for extension is granted prior to the due date. Lab assignments or quizzes turned in more than 24 hours after announced due dates and will be treated as equivalent to “unsatisfactory”.  Finally, all students will be expected to participate in seminar discussions in class.  Lack of participation will be reflected in the final grade. 

  • Prerequisites
    2 graduate level courses in Epidemiology and in Biostatistics (prefer 140.622 and 340.752) and one graduate level course in social or behavioral sciences

    Additional Faculty Notes:

    The course catalogue lists 340.602 as a prerequisite.  This is not accurate and is being changed.   That course is no longer on the books.  The main point of the prerequisites is that students should have taken 2 or more of the core epi methods courses (either the applied or research track) and one of the 2 standard biostat sequences before taking this course.  Consult with the instructor ( if you have questions about whether this course is right for you.  

  • Required Text(s)

    Additional Faculty Notes:
    There are no required textbooks for this course. All required (and most recommended) readings will be available at the on-line library of the course website.

  • Course Schedule

    Please see the course Session for a full list of dates and items for this course.

  • Academic Ethics Code

    Students enrolled in the Bloomberg School of Public Health of The Johns Hopkins University assume an obligation to conduct themselves in a manner appropriate to the University's mission as an institution of higher education. A student is obligated to refrain from acts which he or she knows, or under the circumstances has reason to know, impair the academic integrity of the University. Violations of academic integrity include, but are not limited to: cheating; plagiarism; knowingly furnishing false information to any agent of the University for inclusion in the academic record; violation of the rights and welfare of animal or human subjects in research; and misconduct as a member of either School or University committees or recognized groups or organizations.

  • Welcome Message

    Welcome to the course website for the ADVANCED SEMINAR IN SOCIAL EPIDEMIOLOGY (340.705.01). This course will be taught in the 3rd term in 2012 and not again until 2014. There are four important facts about this class that prospective students should consider: 1. This course is taught as an advanced doctoral seminar. Substantial reading, in-depth discussion, and challenging writing assigments are features of this course. This is not a lecture course. 2. Due to the seminar nature of the course, auditing will not be allowed. 3. Any student wishing to take this course will be expected to have digested the required readings for each session including the first session. 4. This course will involve a lab component that requires hands-on observation, working in a group, and data collection with some data management and analysis. I, along with my TA this year, Amii Kress, look forward to meeting you. 

  • Course topics

    ·       Social epidemiology: what is it and where did it come from?

    ·       Issues and challenges in causal inference in social epidemiology

    ·       The role of theory in (social) epidemiology

    ·       Describing and explaining socioeconomic gradients in health outcomes

    ·       Race/ethnicity and health

    ·       Measurement of neighborhood social conditions and the link between theory and measurement

    ·       Biological pathways for social phenomena

    ·       Neighborhood and other place effects on health

    ·       Culture, the 800 lb. gorilla?

    ·       Policy and intervention implications of social epidemiological research

    ·       Obesity, a running example

  • General organization:

    The course will be taught as a seminar involving in-depth discussion of pre-assigned readings with minimal lecture time.  Seminar discussions will take place each session and may begin with  a brief “mini-lecture” by the course director or a guest followed by group discussion.  Students are expected to bring a 1-page written critique of each required reading to class.  All readings and a blank critique form can be found on CoursePLUS.   Materials are organized by seminar session.  Sessions marked as “pick your own” will require each student to select, read, and critique one empirical paper in a peer reviewed journal that matches the topic for that session.   Names will be selected at random to determine which student will present their paper to the group.  

    Critical to the success of this seminar will be thorough and complete reading of the assigned materials prior to the seminar session.  Students are expected to have read the material for the first session prior to coming to class.

  • Lab component:

    This course will also include a lab project to be undertaken over the term.  Students will work in groups observing social context and developing a measure of some construct of interest.  Lab sessions will take place during scheduled class time.  Students are expected to work on the labs prior to the assigned lab times and to have completed preliminary work on each assignment (also posted on the course website).   Lab sessions will involve development of an original measure of some relevant feature of the built or social environment in Baltimore city.  Students may be asked to present their lab results at least once during the course.  Lab reports will be handed in on pre-specified due dates (see calendar) and will be graded as either excellent, satisfactory or unsatisfactory.


  • Contact Information(from old syllabus)

    Laura Samuel, Ph.D.
    Office: TBA

  • Disability Support Services
    If you are a student with a documented disability who requires an academic accommodation, please contact the Office of Student Life Services at 410-955-3034 or via email at