PUB HLTH 7100 - Foundations of Public Health

North Terrace Campus - Summer - 2017

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 7100
    Course Foundations of Public Health
    Coordinating Unit Public Health
    Term Summer
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    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

    Student & Program Support Services Hub
    Phone: +61 8313 0273

    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)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    2, 3, 6, 7, 8 ,9, 10
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    8, 9
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    2, 10
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • 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
    A list of recommended readings will be provided on MyUni.
    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)
    31 Jan
    What is health? Measuring population health (L) Orientation
    2 Feb
    How healthy are we? Mortality: the tip of the ill-health iceberg Critical Reasoning and  Scholarly Writing
    7 Feb
    Why public health? Aboriginal mortality and morbidity Time trends in mortality
    Course Dinner (optional)
    9 Feb
    Public health and how we live A population perspective on causation Public health and the clinic
    14 Feb
    Prevention strategies The land of Mythica The land of Mythica (continued)
    Mid-Course Review
    16 Feb
    Social inequalities in health Public health and personal choice Briefing on group presentations
    21 Feb
    Communicable disease and human ecology Social determinants of health Available for Preparation of Group Presentations
    23 Feb
    Group Presentations Group Presentations Group Presentations
    Course Evaluation
    Specific Course Requirements
    No additional course-specific requirements.
    Small Group Discovery Experience
  • 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 Weighting Learning Outcome(s) being addressed
    Assignment One
    Individual One-page Report

    10% 1-7, 9
    Assignment Two
    Individual One-page Report

    10% 1-7, 9
    Group Presentation
    Collaborative Task

    20% 1-7, 10
    Essay Summative

    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.

    For details see the course MyUni page.

    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.

    For details see the course MyUni page.

    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. 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.

    For details see the course MyUni page.


    All extensions for assignments must be requested, at the latest, by the last working day before the due date of submission. Extensions will generally be granted only on medical or genuine compassionate grounds. Supporting documentation must be  provided at the time a student requests an extension. Without documentation, extensions will not be granted. Late requests for  extension will neither be accepted nor acknowledged.

    Only the Course Co-ordinator(s) may grant extensions.

    Supporting documentation will be required when requesting an extension. Examples of documents that are acceptable include: a  medical certificate that specifies dates of incapacity, a police report (in the case of lost computers, car & household theft etc.), a  letter from a Student Counsellor, Education and Welfare Officer (EWO) or Disability Liaison Officer that provides an assessment of  compassionate circumstances, or a letter from an independent external counsellor or appropriate professional able to verify the  student’s situation. The length of any extension granted will take into account the period and severity of any incapacity or impact  on the student. Extensions of more than 10 days will not be granted except in exceptional circumstances.

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

    All assignments, including those handed in late, will be assessed on their merits. In the case of late assignments where no  extension has been granted, 5 percentage points of the total marks possible per day will be deducted. If an assignment that 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, the mark will be reduced by 20% (5% per day for 4 days) to 45%, and so on.
    The School of Public Health reserves the right to refuse to accept an assignment that is more than 7 days late.

    Assignments submitted after the due date may not be graded in time to be returned on the listed return dates.

    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 processed in time to meet usual University deadlines.
    If a student is dissatisfied with an assessment grade they should follow the Student Grievance Resolution Process  <>. Students who are not satisfied with a particular assessment result should raise their concerns with Course Co-ordinator(s) in the first instance. This must be done within 10 business days of the  date of notification of the result. Resubmission of any assignment is subject to the agreement of the Course Co-ordinator(s) and  will only be permitted for the most compelling of reasons.

    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.