APP1: Outbreak Investigation and Management - Course Outline


The goal of this course is to introduce the basic principles and steps involved in the investigation and management of outbreaks. Learning materials focus on a systematic, methodical approach utilizing epidemiology and statistics and also reinforce the need for communication during an investigation.


EPI1: Basic Epidemiological Concepts, is the only prerequisite for the course.

You will need a basic understanding of the fundamentals of epidemiology and an understanding of high school mathematics. You will be working with rates, and so will require some knowledge in the use of ratios, proportions, crude, specific and adjusted rates, incidence and prevalence; defining health and health status; assessing the health of a community using selected indicators of health status; preparing, analyzing and interpreting various types of data and of presentation tools, including tables, graphs and charts in your work as a public health practitioner.

If you are a beginning practitioner or would like to refresh your knowledge of the fundamentals of epidemiology, you are encouraged to take the first three Introductory courses (EPI1: Basic Epidemiological Concepts; EPI2: Measurement of Health Status and EPI3: Epidemiological Methods) before registering for this course.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course you will:


Successful completion of this course contributes to the attainment of the following Core Competencies for Public Health In Canada:

The Learning Process

This course is divided into five lessons, including three assignments and six discussion forum activities. There is also an E. coli case study threaded through each lesson to build on the concepts as they are introduced. Each lesson ends with a self‐assessment. You will have eight weeks to complete the 22‐30 hours of work required (about 3‐5 hours per week is suggested; see the learning schedule below).

A trained online facilitator, knowledgeable in public health, is assigned to your group to provide support and guidance. The facilitator is available to answer content‐related questions, provide feedback on assignments, and encourage discussion among participants through discussion forums.

APP1 Learning Schedule

This schedule is a guide to help you pace yourself as you go through the course. Please aim to complete the discussion activities "in sync" with the other learners.

Time Period Course Work Estimated # of hours
Week 1

Getting Started: what you need to know and do

  • Check to make sure you can access all parts of the course site.
  • Review material

Lesson 1: Introduction to Outbreak Investigation

  • Start Lesson 1
  • Introduce yourself and respond to fellow learners on the Discussion Forum: Welcome to Outbreak Investigation
1-2 hours
Week 2
  • Finish Lesson 1
  • Complete Case Study: Part 1
  • Complete Discussion Activity 1
  • Complete Self-Assessment for Lesson 1
2-3 hours
Week 3

Lesson 2: Outbreak Investigation - Steps 1 through 4

  • Start Lesson 2
  • Complete Case Study: Parts 2A, 2B, 3A and 3B
3-4 hours
Week 4
  • Complete Case Study: Parts 4 and 5
  • Complete Discussion Activity 2
  • Complete Assignment 1
  • Complete Self-Assessment for Lesson 2
  • Finish Lesson 2
3-4 hours
Week 5

Lesson 3: Outbreak Investigation - Steps 5 through 7

  • Complete Lesson 3
  • Complete Case Study: Parts 6, 7, 8
  • Complete Assignment 2
  • Complete Discussion Activity 3
  • Complete Self-Assessment for Lesson 3
3-4 hours
Week 6

Lesson 4: Outbreak Investigation - Steps 8 through 10

  • Start Lesson 4
  • Complete Case Study: Parts 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13
4-5 hours
Week 7
  • Complete Case Study: Part 14
  • Complete Assignment 3
  • Complete Discussion Activity 4
  • Complete Self-Assessment for Lesson 4
  • Finish Lesson 4
4-5 hours
Week 8

Lesson 5: Steps 11 through 13

  • Complete Lesson 5
  • Complete Case Study: Parts 15, 16 and Case Conclusion
  • Complete Discussion Activity 5
  • Complete Self-Assessment for Lesson 5

Finishing Up

  • Ensure you have completed all parts of the course, have submitted all assignments and completed discussion activities.
  • Complete Final Feedback Survey
2-3 hours
Total: 22-30 hours

Course Features


The five lessons utilize a mixture of text, figures, and links to websites to guide you through the systematic steps of an outbreak investigation. The first lesson introduces key concepts pertaining to outbreak investigations. Lessons 2 through to 5 then proceed through the steps, focusing on the methodologies and the practical applications of the process.

Discussion Forums

Discussion forums are integral to the course. Messages can be posted and read on the forum system whenever convenient — 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


Assignments feature in all the courses, allowing you to reflect on the course content and to apply some of the concepts and principles to your work as a public health practitioner. The assignments in this course focus on case definitions, steps in the investigation of outbreaks, and testing of hypotheses.


Following each lesson you will be able to complete a self-assessment to evaluate your understanding of the subject matter presented within each lesson. You will receive automatic feedback on your performance.


Successful completion of this course requires you to:

  1. complete all activities within the prescribed time frame for each;
  2. receive a satisfactory rating for all three assignments;
  3. participate in each of the six discussion forums;
  4. complete the final feedback survey questionnaire.


Participants receive a certificate from the Public Health Agency of Canada upon successful completion of the course.

Registration information is available at Skills Online-Register For Courses page. Note: you must be registered and logged in to access the registration page.

Note: Completion of this course contributes to the following Learning Pathcertificates: