Course Syllabus

Human Health and Disease:

A Clinical Approach Section F

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Semester & Location:

 Spring 2020 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Core Course - 3 credits

Core Course Study Tours:

Western Denmark & Berlin-Poznan

Major Disciplines:

Biology, Pre-Medicine / Health Science, Public Health


One year of biology and one year of chemistry at the university level

Faculty Members:

Niels West Christensen and Nicklas Järvelä Johansen

Program Director:

Susana Dietrich

Time & Place:

Mondays & Thursdays, 15:30-17:30, Rigshospitalet

Note for Spring 2021: due to the COVID-19 pandemic the class location might change to DIS classrooms as hospitals may limit non-clinical activities



Niels West Christensen 
M.D. (University of Copenhagen, 2014) and researcher at Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Rigshospitalet and Gentofte Hospital. With DIS since 2016. 


Nicklas Järvelä Johansen

M.D. (University of Copenhagen, 2015) and clinical researcher at Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen. With DIS since 2018.


Course Assistant


Ida Christine Jacobsen 

10th semester medical student at the University of Copenhagen Medical School. Student assistant, Department of Oncology, Rigshospitalet. Run leader for Royal Run. With DIS since January 2019. 


DIS Contacts

Susana Dietrich, Program Director
Philippa Carey, Program Coordinator,
Jennifer Schulz, Program Assistant, 
Science & Health Program Office, Vestergade 7-37


Course Description

The clinical approach of the course implies studying symptoms, signs, diagnostic methods and treatment of the most important human diseases, writing patient case reviews based upon medical records, and patient interviews, visiting various clinical and diagnostic hospital departments, and performing physical examinations on phantoms or other students.

The course, however, does not provide regular medical training corresponding to that of medical students and does not include shadowing of doctors or physical examination of patients. Patient demonstrations are included in some, but not all, lectures.

Expected Learning Outcomes

The objective of the course is to introduce students to the most important human diseases, their diagnoses and treatments, and to the clinical working methods of physicians as practiced at a large, Danish University Hospital in Copenhagen.  Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Write a structured medical report
  2. Explain the rationale for choice of tests and treatments in clinical practice
  3. Copy basic manual skills (suture, IV insertion, catheter insertion) and give a basic explanation of the techniques
  4. Discuss knowledge of human anatomy, physiology, and scientific context
  5. Describe medical practice in a social, international, and scientific context
  6. Outline the epidemiology of major diseases in both the industrialized world and the developing world.

Required Readings

  • Hole’s JW: Essentials of Human Anatomy & Physiology, 13th WC Brown Publishers, London 2004: Hole’s.
  • Ford MJ, Hennessey, I, and Japp, A: Introduction to Clinical Examination, 8th Churchill Livingstone, London 2005: Ford.
  • O'Neill P, Dornan T, Denning DW: A Core Text with Self-Assessment. Churchill Livingstone, 3rd Edition, 2008: O'Neill.
  • Additional Readings will be posted on Canvas

NOTE: Not all reading assignments will be covered in class, but all reading assignments are absolutely necessary in order to follow what is actually covered in class. In some cases, where noted, skimming the reading and picking out important points will be sufficient.

Medical Practice & Policy faculty and staff have put many hours into selecting and organizing the readings for this course.  Please make sure to read all the material assigned; the reading material has been carefully chosen and all of it is pertinent to your success in Human Health and Disease.  You have an obligation to your fellow classmates and yourself to come prepared to class.  If you have questions or need clarification about a reading or lecture material do not hesitate to speak up and/or contact the course assistant (see contact information above).  This is very important as the professors for this course do not have scheduled office hours. However in the case that a meeting is needed, please feel free to set up appointments with them via email.  You can contact them, the course assistant, or program assistant to set up an appointment or to ask a question.



Theoretical Patient Case (TPC)

During the semester, you will be presented with three theoretical patient cases in class to work on individually. You are responsible for suggesting, based on the case you get, an appropriate course of questions to get a detailed medical history that will allow you to structure a relevant clinical exam and an appropriate course of paraclinical investigations leading to a preliminary diagnosis. More detailed information will be provided in class.


Clinical Patient Case (CPC)

During the semester, each student will be presented with different real patients and everyone will write up their own case history about the signs, symptoms, ailments and treatments for the specific patients that are introduced to the students.  It is important to note that, on these dates, attendance is mandatory. Skipping class for travel or other reasons will not be accepted. More details will be given on this activity as the time approaches for the first Clinical Case Review.

Important Information:
It is mandatory to attend all classes in which clinical case reviews are presented. Missing a class would result in a 'fail' on that paper.


Tests and Final

There will be a total of two tests throughout the semester.  These tests will consist of a mix of short answer questions and essay questions.  Tests may be given at the beginning of class or at the end.  If the latter, the material covered in lecture that day may be on the test; so, make sure to pay close attention to the information discussed in lecture that day.  Tests in class will generally last a maximum of 30 minutes depending on the amount of information covered.  The final exam for this course will be cumulative and will be written in the same manner as tests.  The final exam will be two hours in duration.

Core Course Week and Study Tours

Core Course week and study tours are an integral part of the core course as we take the classroom on the road and see how theory presented in the classroom is translated to practice in the field. You will travel with your classmates and DIS faculty/staff on two study tours; a short study tour during Core Course Week and a long study tour to relevant European destinations.


Expectations for study tours:

  • Participate in all activities
  • Engage in discussions, ask questions, and contribute to achieving the learning objectives
  • Respect the destination, the speakers, DIS staff, and your fellow classmates
  • Represent yourself, your home university and DIS in a positive light


One of the learning objectives of Human Health and Disease: A Clinical Approach is for you, the student, to be able to describe medical practice in a social, international, and scientific context. The study tours are a way to achieve this learning objective.


Learning Objectives:

The objectives of both the short study tour and the long study tour are:

  • to showcase examples of clinical practice and health care systems in different sectors and countries
  • to broaden the students’ view of the challenges that health care providers face
  • to show examples of research with clinical relevance
  • to explore and learn more about Denmark and other societies in Europe


While on a program study tour DIS will provide hostel/hotel accommodation, transportation to/from the destination(s), approx. 2 meals per day and entrances, guides, and visits relevant to your area of study or the destination. You will receive a more detailed itinerary prior to departure.


Travel policies: You are required to travel with your group to the destination. If you have to deviate from the group travel plans, you need approval from the program director and the study tours office.   

Study Tour Project

Before going on the short study tour, you will be divided into groups and be given a specific subject to focus on in your study tour project. An observation booklet should be used on both trips for notes, these notes with which should be discussed within your group. A more in-depth description of the study tour project will be provided closer to the short study tour. All parts of the project must be completed in order to obtain full credit for the project which counts toward 10% of your grade.


Students will be evaluated based on participation, three theoretical patient cases, two small tests, and a final examination. There will also be a small assignment related to the study tours.  The grade on this assignment will contribute to your participation grade.

Tests (2 at 10%)                                                    20%

Patient cases (3 at 10%)                                      30%

Final examination                                                 30%

Study Tour Project                                                10%

Participation                                                          10%


Participation covers the following areas

  1. Attendance
  2. Level of preparation and ability to answer questions asked in class
  3. Involvement in class and group discussions
  4. Level of individual research and contribution to discussions


Policy on late papers

Late papers will be accepted, but your grade for the paper will be reduced by half a point for each day that it is late.



Computer is allowed for class purposes. It is not allowed for other activities such as social networks, sending personal e-mails etc. If you use a computer for other purposes, it will affect your participation grade. Cell phone usage is not allowed in class. It is distracting to both your classmates and your instructors, so please keep them turned off. Otherwise it will affect your participation grade.

Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:


DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -


Course Summary:

Date Details