This paper is concerned with models formulated to describe the spread of infectious diseases through a community. Some standard epidemic models are introduced and an overview of their uses is provided. The paper includes a discussion of the advantages of simple models over complex ones and the advantages of stochastic models over deterministic ones. The role that epidemic models can play in helping us to understand the spread of diseases and to plan control policies for diseases is explained. The paper also contains a review of some major insights gained from a study of epidemic models and from statistical analyses of disease data using epidemic models. Some explicit suggestions for future research projects are made.