Principles in Causal Inference [EP01]

Course highlights

EC points


Start date


End date


Course days

Full weekdays


Sonja Swanson, PhD, Jeremy Labrecque

Course fee

€ 870


Erasmus MC, Rotterdam NL




Study Design (CC01), NIHES checks whether you meet this prerequisite.


  • Epidemiology

Exam date



How to apply

Detailed information about this course:


Epidemiologic research often entails asking and trying to answer questions toward understanding the causes and consequences of health outcomes. Answers to such causal questions require us to combine data (e.g., from observational studies) with assumptions to estimate causal effects. This course will teach students to think critically and rigorously about the implications of study design and analysis toward addressing such causal questions. Students will learn formal causal inference "languages" – including the concept of a target trial, causal diagrams, and counterfactual theory – to articulate research questions, inform an analytic approach, and identify threats to validity such as confounding.


By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Understand the fundamental concepts of a target trial, counterfactual theory, and causal diagrams and apply them to ask scientific questions;
  • Describe, identify, and assess threats to validity in study designs and analysis, including confounding, selection bias, and measurement error/misclassification;
  • Engage in evidence-based discussions regarding the validity of a particular research study’s design and analysis with respect to addressing causal questions.

Participant profile

NIHES students attending the MSc in Health Sciences, with specialization in Epidemiology or Clinical Epidemiology or NIHES students attending the MSc in Clinical Research. Other graduate students are welcome to take the course as well.


Written exam, Assignment(s)

Reduction on fees


50% reduction on our fees for participating institutes of NIHES

This 50% reduction is offered to participants formally appointed at the departments or sections participating in NIHES.

University Medical Center Rotterdam/Erasmus University Rotterdam:

  • Department of Epidemiology
  • Department of Public Health
  • Department of Psychiatry, Section of Medical Psychology and Psychotherapy
  • Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry/Psychology
  • Department of Medical Informatics
  • Department of General Practice
  • Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management
  • Generation R

50% reduction on our fees for NIHES affiliated partners

This 50% reduction is offered to participants formally appointed at the following NIHES affiliated partners:

University Medical Center Rotterdam/Erasmus University Rotterdam, departments of:

  • Dermatology
  • General Paediatrics
  • Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
  • Rehabilitation Medicine

Institute of Medical Education Research Rotterdam (iMERR)

Netherlands Cancer Institute/Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital

  • Department of Cancer Epidemiology

25% reduction on our fees for partner institutes of NIHES

For participants formally appointed at the following departments, institutes:

  • Departments of Erasmus MC (except the departments mentioned above)
  • Addiction Research Institute (IVO)
  • Integraal Kankercentrum Zuid (IKZ)
  • Pallas Health Research and Consultancy
  • Municipal Health Service Amsterdam (GGD Amsterdam)
  • Municipal Health Service Rotterdam (GGD Rotterdam)
  • Havenpolikliniek
  • Admiraal De Ruyter Ziekenhuis

25% reduction for all (international) PhD students
Please state your supervisor/promotor’s name and email address on the application form (remarks field).

25% reduction on our course fees (maximum 3 EC points per academic year) for all NIHES alumni
Please state that you are a NIHES alumnus/alumna and the academic year you graduated (remarks field). Please note that the reduction on fees for alumni does not apply to the Erasmus Summer Programme.