Causal Inference [ESP48]

Course highlights

EC points


Start date


End date


Course days

Monday to Friday (5 full days)


Dr. Sonja Swanson & Dr. Jeremy Labrecque

Course fee

€ 1778


Erasmus MC, Rotterdam NL




Intermediate-level courses in epidemiology and biostatistics. Previous experience in epidemiologic research recommended.
Ideally, NIHES Master students should take the course CK010 Study Design (in 2021 or later) or EP01 Principles in Causal Inference before this course.


  • Methodology


Go to the ESP website

Detailed information about this course:


Faculty: Dr. Sonja Swanson & Dr. Jeremy Labrecque

The goal of many epidemiologic studies is to quantify the causal effect of a treatment (or exposure) on an outcome. In contrast, commonly used statistical methods provide measures of association that may lack a causal interpretation even when the investigator adjusts for all potential confounders in the analysis of a properly designed study.

To eliminate the discordance between the causal goals and the associational methods in epidemiology, it is necessary to a) formally define causal concepts such as causal effect and confounding, b) identify the conditions required to estimate causal effects, and c) use analytical methods that, under those conditions, provide estimates that can be endowed with a causal interpretation. This course combines counterfactual theory and graph theory to present an integrated framework for causal inference from observational data, with a special emphasis on complex longitudinal data. Specifically, the course will introduce g-methods (inverse probability weighting of marginal structural models; parametric g-formula; and g-estimation of structural nested models) in the setting of time-fixed treatments and demonstrate inverse probability weighting for addressing causal questions regarding sustained treatment strategies. On the final day, alternative or complementary approaches will be discussed (e.g., instrumental variable approaches; quantitative bias analysis).


The student is able to:

  • Recognize and formulate well defined questions concerning causal effects;
  • Use causal diagrams to represent a priori subject-matter knowledge and assumptions;
  • Identify the settings in which conventional methods for data analysis are inadequate;
  • Use provided software to estimate causal effects under specified conditions.

Participant profile

The course is intended for health researchers or other data scientists who will use observational studies to estimate causal effects as part of their current or future professional career. Examples include: epidemiologists, (bio-)statisticians, and other clinical or public health researchers.



Reduction on fees

PLEASE NOTE: This does not apply to the fee of the research master programmes (120 EC points)

No fees are charged for  Erasmus MC PhD candidates, provided they have an account in Hora Finita, the Erasmus University PhD registration system. When submitting the application, you can state that someone else pays your tuition fee.

In case of cancellation or no show, the cancellation policy applies based on the full course fee.


25% reduction for all (international) PhD candidates without formal appointment at Erasmus MC

Upon receipt of your application you will receive a request to upload proof of enrollment as a PhD candidate.