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118.706 Analysis of spatial and temporal epidemiologic data (15 credits)

Course coordinator: Chris Compton BVSc, MVS (Epidemiology), PhD

A primary role of the practicioner or researcher when investigating health or productivity of animals is to understand patterns of disease or production to formulate effective programmes to improve their health, welfare and productivity. This single-semester course provides students with the basic skills necessary to visualise and describe epidemiologic data with particular characteristics of location or time that are important to understand when describing these patterns. We will work with data sets from animal and public health settings using up-to-date methods in mainly open-source software tools.

Please note: Courses are revised following each offering. Details of content and assessment are subject to change between offerings.

What will you learn?

Students who successfully complete this course should be able to:

  • Generate maps depicting spatial patterns in health data and conduct appropriate statistical analysis to explore or describe any spatial clustering.

  • Generate graphs and conduct appropriate statistical analyses to explore and describe temporal patterns of disease and production

  • Generate hypotheses regarding disease risk given the observed spatial and/or temporal patterns.

  • Effectively communicate their findings to researchers, veterinarians and key decision makers

How the course works

This course aims to provide practical skills that can be applied by professionals that work with data that has spatial or temporal components. Course materials include a printed guide for your background reading with worked examples and exercises to aid learning. Assessment of this course integrates online learning activities such as discussions, quizzes, lessons, library searches, critical evaluation and exercises for self-assessment with reading materials and personal and group study tasks.

Your Coordinator

Chris Compton is a veterinary epidemiologist with a broad background in clinical practice and research. He invested his early career into clinical practice in New Zealand, mainly with production animals and increasingly with dairy cattle. He worked as a research project manager with “Cognosco” in veterinary practice in the Waikato, and graduated with a Masters of Veterinary Studies (Epidemiology) in 2006 with additional skills needed for that role. He joined the EpiCentre in 2017 on completion of his PhD on “The epidemiology of culling and mortality of New Zealand dairy cows”.

Chris’s research interests are primarily those from his work and academic career: mastitis, reproduction, nutrition and metabolic disorders in dairy cattle. The main themes of his research experience have involved studies in commercial herds on mastitis in dairy heifers, anovulatory anoestrous and oestrous synchronisation programmes, hyperketonaemia or subclinical ketosis, and most recently, the extent and causes of culling and mortality. In these studies he used a range of analytic methods, including those suitable for hierarchical, survival, spatial and temporal data types. Chris is focused on providing strategies for farmers that will enhance the health, productivity and welfare of their animals.

Course features

In-depth part-time study spread over a single semester. Plan to allow 10-15 hours per week to pass the course, but highest grades may require more time commitment.

Learning materials and facilities

  • Study guide
  • 10-day face to face block course
  • Electronic library access

Learning community

  • Facilitated online discussion
  • Social forum


  • Assessment will be measured with two written assignments that each contribute 50% to the final mark for each student*.
  • Assessment weightings are subject to change until the beginning of the semester in which the course is delivered.
  •  Specific dates for assessments will be finalised in information provided on Stream at the start of the Course.


  • Internet access
  • Textbook: there is no textbook required for this course
  • Prior completion of 118.716, Analysis of epidemiologic data 1, is a prerequisite for enrolment in this course


See Massey’s fee calculator for this information.

contact WORKSHOP (contact course)

A compulsory contact course will be held at the Manawatu Campus between Monday 29 June and Friday 10 July, 2020. The main aim of the contact course is to provide the core knowledge and skills that you will require for this course through face-to-face teaching, practical sessions and small group exercises. The contact workshop is an opportunity to spend time with your classmates and lecturers and to build relationships for your future professional life.

dates and timings*

Enrolments open dates to be advised
Course start dates to be advised
Course end dates to be advised

*Please note:   You can still apply for enrolment after the due dates above. Places cannot be assured after these due dates; but late applications will be considered as long as remaining places are available.