PUB HLTH 7100HO - Foundations of Public Health

Teaching Hospitals - Summer - 2014

This course aims to provide students with a basic understanding of the core concepts in public health. It will begin with an exploration of what is meant by health itself, and how the health of a population can be measured. Then the main types and experiences of disease in the Australian population (and elsewhere) will be considered. This will lead to an analysis of the multifactorial causation of ill health and premature death in populations. After that, the implications for health and related services will be investigated, with an emphasis on prevention and community participation. No prior specialist knowledge of public health will be assumed.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PUB HLTH 7100HO
    Course Foundations of Public Health
    Coordinating Unit Public Health
    Term Summer
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s Teaching Hospitals
    Units 3
    Restrictions Available to Grad Cert, Grad Dip, MPH students only
    Course Description This course aims to provide students with a basic understanding of the core concepts in public health. It will begin with an exploration of what is meant by health itself, and how the health of a population can be measured. Then the main types and experiences of disease in the Australian population (and elsewhere) will be considered. This will lead to an analysis of the multifactorial causation of ill health and premature death in populations. After that, the implications for health and related services will be investigated, with an emphasis on prevention and community participation. No prior specialist knowledge of public health will be assumed.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Associate Professor John Moss

    Course Coordinator: Associate Professor John Moss
    Phone: +61 8313 4620
    Location: Level 7, 178 North Terrace

    Learning and Teaching Team
    Phone: +61 8313 2128
    Location: Level 7, 178 North Terrace
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1 Describe the main elements of population perspective on health;
    2 Describe the health of a population using commonly available information;
    3 Discuss current trends in the nature of the health problems facing communities at various levels of social and economic development;
    4 Explain what is meant by multi-factorial causation of disease;
    5 Describe and explain basic prevention strategies;
    6 Apply the social determinants of health to the analysis of a major health problem;
    7 Discuss the causes and prevention of communicable disease;
    8 Participate constructively in tutorials and practicals, providing useful feedback to other participants;
    9 Write a clear and concise written report on a public health issue, demonstrating both imagination and sound judgement;
    10 Demonstrate competence in presentational skills, including the use of appropriate audio-visual facilities, in delivering an oral report on a public health issue to the class.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1-7
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 2, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 8, 9
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 8, 9
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 2, 10
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 1-8
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 1-7
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources

    No single general textbook covers the whole subject matter of this course. Much of the reading resources for this course will be sourced from peer-reviewed journals available electronically through the Barr Smith Library and from official and semi-official reports appearing on the World Wide Web. A set of photocopied readings will also be made available.

    Readings have been recommended because the authors have something interesting to say; recommendation does not necessarily imply endorsement of the content by the teaching staff. As well as contemporary papers, these will include classic papers which have stood the test of time for teaching the basics.

    Recommended Resources

    de Looper M, Bhatia K. Australian health trends 2001. (AIHW Cat. No. PHE 24). Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2001. [Especially Chapter 2]

    Gruszin S, Hetzel D, Glover J. Advocacy and action in public health: Lessons from Australia 1901 – 2006. Canberra: Australian National Preventive Health Agency, 2012. [Also available from the Barr Smith Library] action_in_public_health_Introduction_and_overview.pdf

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ten great public health achievements in the 20th century. Atlanta, GA: CDC, 2000.

    National Public Health Partnership. Public Health Practice in Australia Today – A Statement of Core Functions. 2000.


    Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Australia’s health 2012. (Cat. no. AUS 156.) Canberra: AIHW, 2012. [read selectively from the early chapters]

    Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Australia’s system of government.


    The Barr Smith Library maintains the following valuable guide to assist in the use of the Library's resources for public health, and to provide a selection of links to web sites which may be useful to those practising or studying in the field.

    Library Guide for Public Health


    Porta MS, editor. A dictionary of epidemiology. 5th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. [Available in the Barr Smith Reference Collection and electronically through the BSL catalogue]

    Baum F. The new public health. 3nd ed. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2008. [Available from the Barr Smith Library]

    Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Australia’s health 2012. Canberra: AIHW, 2012

    Public Health Bulletin South Australia

    Detels R, Beaglehole R, Langsang MA, Gulliford M, editors. Oxford textbook of public health. 5th ed. (In 3 volumes). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. [Available from the Barr Smith Library]

    Keleher H, Murphy B, editors. Understanding health: A determinants approach. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2004. [Available from the Barr Smith Library]
    Heggenhougen K, editor. International Encyclopedia of Public Health. 6 volumes. Elsevier, 2008. [Available electronically on ScienceDirect through the Barr Smith Library catalogue].
    Online Learning

    MyUni is the primary entry point to online learning at The University of Adelaide. You can connect to MyUni on or off campus from an internet connected computer using a Web browser. The URL is: Login to this resource using your Username and Password.

    Additional course-related material is available through MyUni. This includes the course timetable, tutorials, and more information on learning support services available for students.

    Pdf files of the lecture presentations will be made available on MyUni usually on the day following the lecture. This timing gives the lecturer flexibility to respond to student questions and comment as the session proceeds.

    Course announcements will be sent to your email address on MyUni.

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes

    As with any postgraduate course, you will be expected to achieve more than a mere understanding of the ideas and information presented to you. You will be expected to grapple with the challenges presented by these ideas; to learn how to ask better questions about public health issues; and to apply these concepts to problems in your own sphere of influence.

    This course places a high priority on interaction between the participants and the academic staff, and amongst participants. It is understood that students may have different learning styles and may come from different cultural backgrounds.

    There will be a lecture, a tutorial and a practical on each scheduled day. Where possible, tutorials and practicals will lag one scheduled day after the relevant lecture. There will be recommended reading prior to each tutorial and follow-up reading for each lecture. Since the purpose of any lecture will be to explain and to identify the important themes, not merely to provide information, questions are welcome. Tutorials will provide an opportunity to review your independent study, and to explore issues in greater depth and breadth. Practicals will provide an opportunity to apply the key course concepts and information.

    In the tutorials, the relevant starred reading will be the main focus. Every student will be expected to demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the starred tutorial reading, and an awareness of the main issues covered by the other readings. All students are encouraged to participate actively. The tutor's role will be to ensure that all major points are covered and to clarify areas where there is uncertainty.
    Students who are experiencing any form of difficulty in achieving the course objectives are cordially invited to discuss this with the course coordinator as early as possible. A key role of the academic staff is to provide guidance to students in achieving their learning goals.


    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    To successfully complete their courses, students will need to allocate an appropriate time commitment to their study. In addition to the formal contact – the time required to attend each scheduled activity (viz, lectures, tutorials and practicals) - students will need to allocate their own non-contact time. Non-contact time will be required for a range of activities which may include, but are not limited to, assessment tasks, reading, researching, note-taking, revision, writing, consultation with staff, and informal discussion with other students.

    While the relative proportion of contact and non-contact time may vary from course to course, as a guide, a full-time student would expect to spend, on average, a total of 48 hours per week on their studies during teaching periods. The workload for a full-time program is 24 units per year. In other words, you will probably need to allow a minimum of three independent study hours for every hour undertaken in formal class work contact.

    Learning Activities Summary
    Date Lecture (first hour) Tutorial (second hour) Practical (third hour)
    4 February
    What is health? Measuring population health (L) Orientation
    6 February
    How healthy are we? Mortality: the tip of the ill-health iceberg Critical Reasoning and  Scholarly Writing
    11 February
    Why public health? Aboriginal mortality and morbidity Time trends in mortality
    Course Dinner (optional)
    13 February
    Public health and how we live A population perspective on causation Public health and the clinic
    18 February
    Prevention strategies The land of Mythica The land of Mythica (continued)
    Mid-Course Review
    20 February
    Social inequalities in health Public health and personal choice Public health in the Australian health system
    Briefing on group presentations
    25 February
    Communicable disease and human ecology Social determinants of health Available for Preparation of Group Presentations
    27 February
    Group Presentations Group Presentations Group Presentations
    Course Evaluation
    Specific Course Requirements
    No additional course-specific requirements.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Assessment Type and Due Date (6pm) Weighting Learning Outcome(s) being addressed
    Assignment One
    One-page Report
    10 February
    10% 1-7, 9
    Assignment Two
    Individual One-page Report
    17 February
    10% 1-7, 9
    Group Presentation
    Collaborative Task
    27 February
    20% 1-7, 10
    Essay Summative
    28 March
    50% 1-7, 9
    Participation Tutorials and Practicals 10% 8, 9
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Attendance at all tutorials and practicals is required, and is a prerequisite for passing this course. The reason for any absence should be made known to the course co-ordinator, who may require remedial work.
    Assessment Detail


    In tutorials and practicals it is expected that all students should participate actively in the discussion. Your mark for participation will be based on the extent to which you involve yourself in the discussions and activities in class and the quality of these contributions. This is more than mere attendance.


    Your task is to provide a constructively critical review of the main argument in the selected paper. You are expected to develop your own reasoned argument in your own words within a single page.

    Academic writing requires that you deal with evidence and with arguments and counter-arguments. What does the author say; why do you or do you not agree; and why does this matter?

    Concepts are more important than details. You should focus right from the beginning of your critique on the core argument in the paper under review and the core evidence for that argument. Begin by stating this clearly in your own words. Next might come a critical analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of this argument, with your comments where appropriate on the logic, on the use of evidence, and on how the argument may have been shaped by the author(s) own values. Any criticism should be constructive and not mere nit-picking. Finally, you should explore the implications for the health of the public, such as how this paper changes our thinking about the issue and what should we do about its findings in order to improve population health. If it helps, you might use the three headings: summary of reviewed paper, critical analysis, and public health implications, but this is not a requirement.

    You should engage directly with the author’s argument, and ensure that you develop substantive arguments of your own. Merely listing what the author wrote about is insufficient. Regarding the level at which to express your thoughts, you may find it helpful to assume that your reader is an interested member of the general public.

    You need to make the most use of the single page available to you. You should ensure that every one of your sentences contains substantive argument. There is not the space to make general statements that do not advance your own critical review; nor for repetition. Avoid faint praise for the author’s writing style; focus on the major issues.

    To encourage clarity and conciseness, the paper should be confined to one A4 page, single-spaced, preferably typed and in no less than 11 point pitch. Standard English rather than brief notes or dot points should be used. The paper should be in the student's own words, with quotation and paraphrasing strictly limited and properly referenced in the Vancouver style. References may be placed on a second page. For information on the Vancouver style of referencing, see or

    You are strongly advised to prepare at least one draft, and to edit your work carefully. Please retain a copy just in case the one you submit is lost.

    If you are in any doubt about your ability to write at the postgraduate level, you should consult the Writing Centre ( for advice. Do be aware that poor skills in writing can make it difficult for your reader to assess the deeper levels of your analysis.


    Each student shall submit a substantial essay (approximately 3,000 words) on a pertinent topic of their own choosing. Thus part of the task is to identify a relevant topic in public health where exploration will lead to significant learning. The essay must provide an in-depth analysis. Before proceeding, students are required to discuss their proposed topic and an outline with the course co-ordinator.

    Providing such an in-depth analysis will involve generating your own line of reasoning rather than merely repeating the conventional wisdom. It will also involve being able to acknowledge counterarguments to your own position.

    In order to develop their critical reasoning about public health issues, students are expected to include a range of references in their work. Wider reading is strongly encouraged. Reference lists must contain more than popular web-based references. In particular, students are expected to be able to locate and draw upon peer-reviewed journal articles.

    When you use the published literature on your topic, this should be based on a systematic searching strategy to minimise bias. The search algorithm must be provided in an appendix. The notes on literature searching which form part of the Library Guide for Public Health (see Section 3.2 above) should be especially useful in planning your search. The selected literature should cover both the milestones in the development of the body of knowledge and the important recent developments.

    As a guide only, the essay in this course would normally be expected to be supported by at least 15 separate credible references. Do be aware that a simple summarising of multiple sources, even if correctly cited, will not be sufficient to gain a good mark. You need to demonstrate that you have put your own thought into your writing and that you have asked relevant questions. Explain why the references you cite are credible, bearing in mind the hierarchy of evidence and the canons of good study design.

    Three useful guides to essay writing are:

    Summers J, Smith M. Communication Skills Handbook 3rd Ed. Brisbane: Wiley; 2010.

    Anderson J, Poole M. Assignment and thesis writing. 4th ed. Brisbane: John Wiley, 2002.

    International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals: Writing and editing for biomedical publishing.

    There are some straightforward approaches that can improve the quality of your writing. Assume that your reader is an interested member of the general public and thus explain any technical terms you use. Provide signposts for your reader by providing a clear statement of the objective of your essay early in the document, by the use of informative headings, and by emphasising the major points (while limiting the amount of mere detail). Check the logical flow of the main elements of your argument. Always perform a careful edit before you submit your paper.


    Participants are to work in groups of three and must share the work equitably. If you have difficulty in forming a group, inform the course co-ordinator as soon as possible.

    An important and challenging part of the group's task is to select a suitable topic. The presentation should address the public health issues related to the topic, and differentiate the students' own contributions from material available in the literature, in lectures, and tutorials, and other sources. Think through the issues! Be constructively critical! Avoid mere regurgitation! Working in a team on your presentation should lead to useful debates that will reinforce your learning and will provide experience in an important skill in public health practice. Please approach the course coordinator should any concerns arise that the work is not being shared equitably in your group.

    The group presentation should follow the format of a paper presented to a learned society. It is an opportunity to teach fellow students key points about what has been learned during the course - and thus should call upon considerably more than your general knowledge or work experience. Avoid being too general: you should focus on a critical analysis of particular issue, and locate that debate within its wider context.

    Each group presentation may last for an absolute maximum of 15 minutes, and there will be a further 10 minutes for discussion questions from the other students. The discussion will be taken into account in determining the mark for the presentation. Timing will be carefully monitored - reason enough for a rehearsal!

    Normally, your group presentation should be illustrated by PowerPoint slides. A brief overview of the issues in Effective PowerPoint Design is available at Do ensure that your slides are readable from the back of the room.
    The actual presentation will attract 10 of the 20 marks available, and will be assessed according to the following criteria: Clear statement of the main points Lively and imaginative Engages the audience Within the allocated time (15 minutes maximum) Effective use of the PowerPoint slides Reflective response to questions from the audience (10 minutes will be available for this) The content of the group presentation will attract the other 10 marks and will be assessed according to the usual Grade Descriptors which have ben used throughout this course.


    In this course, written assignments for assessment will normally be submitted electronically through MyUni. Your assignment must be formatted as a Microsoft Word file; no other file type will be accepted.

    Turnitin is a web-based text-matching software system which can be used to teach students how to properly acknowledge quotations. It is now available through MyUni.

    Turnitin provides a report on any text matches. All work submitted to Turnitin is checked against three databases of content:
    a copy of the publicly accessible Internet as well as archived copies of the Internet
    published works (including ABI/Inform, Periodical Abstracts, Business Dateline, and electronic books)
    every student paper ever submitted to Turnitin.

    Students are required to check each assignment (including the essay) in this course for unreferenced text matches (including paraphrasing) before submitting it for assessment. You will submit an electronic version of your assignment and MyUni/Turnitin will generate an originality report. The course coordinator may consult this originality report at his/her absolute discretion.

    You should ensure that you keep a copy of each assignment just in case it gets lost within the system.

    No print copy need be submitted.

    No assignment will be accepted by mail or fax without prior written agreement from the relevant module coordinator.

    Wherever possible, one page papers will be returned with marks and comments before the next paper is due.

    Statement of Acknowledgement of Original Work
    By submitting any assignment in this course you are agreeing to the following:
    I declare that all material in this assessment is my own work except where there is clear acknowledgement and reference to the work of others. I have read the Academic Honesty Policy at

    I give permission for my assessment work to be reproduced and submitted to other academic staff for the purposes of assessment and to be copied, submitted and retained in a form suitable for electronic checking of plagiarism.


    Must be requested, at the latest, by the last working day before the due date of submission.

    Will generally be granted only on medical or genuine compassionate grounds.

    Only the course co-ordinator, or a person authorised by him or her, may grant extensions.

    Documentary supporting evidence such as a medical certificate or a police report (in the case of lost computers, car & household theft etc.) will usually be required when requesting an extension.

    Documentary evidence will be required to support any claim that you have been so ill or inconvenienced that you could not make prior contact as specified above.
    Students submitting examinable written work who request (and receive) an extension that takes them beyond the examination period are advised that there is no guarantee that their grades will be finalised “in time for graduation” or “in time to meet usual University deadlines”.


    Marks will be deducted when assignments for which no extension has been granted are handed in late.

    The procedure is as follows:

    All assignments, including those handed in late, will be assessed on their merits.
    In the case of late assignments, marks will then be deducted from the mark awarded, at the rate of 5 percentage points of the total possible per day. e.g. If an assignment which is 2 days late is awarded 65% on its merits, the mark will then be reduced by 10% (5% per day for 2 days) to 55%. If that same assignment is 4 days late its mark will be reduced by 20% (5% per day for 4 days) to 45% etc.

    The School of Population Health reserves the right to refuse to accept an assignment that is more than 7 days late.

    Resubmission of Work

    Resubmission of any assignment is subject to the agreement of the Course Coordinator and will only be allowed for the most compelling of reasons. In the unlikely event that resubmission of any paper is accepted, the maximum marks available for that resubmitted paper will be 50% of the total for that aspect of the assessment.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.