PUB HLTH 3008 - Health care systems: structure, policy and people

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2024

This is a time of major change in our health care system. The system must meet the health needs of all Australians at a time when health care costs are rapidly increasing and our population is ageing. How can we ensure our health care system is efficient, equitable and the expectations of all Australians are met? In this course, students will examine how our health care system currently works and explore the various strategies that could improve both the quality and effectiveness of the care that people receive. This will include studying health care policies and how they directly impact on people's lives; following the health care journeys of a variety of Australians to examine how the health care system functions at an individual level and how it interacts with other systems and we will look briefly at how health care systems in other countries work. Students will learn a variety of practical skills such as how to analyse health polices, how to write a policy brief and how to approach health care reform.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PUB HLTH 3008
    Course Health care systems: structure, policy and people
    Coordinating Unit Public Health
    Term Semester 2
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Assumed Knowledge PUB HLTH 1001 or PUB HLTH 2200
    Assessment Quiz, Tutorial Participation, short essay, policy brief, case study.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Caroline Laurence

    Course Coordinator: Prof Caroline Laurence
    Phone: +61 8313 4951
    Location: Level 4, Rundle Mall Plaza

    Course Timetable

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

    Weeks 1 - 4:     Module 1: Introduction to the Australian health care system / international health care systems / funding mechanisms
    Weeks 5 - 7:     Module 2: Health policy: role, analysis and influences

    Weeks 8 - 10:     Module 3: How the health system works on the ground: case studies

    Weeks 11 - 12:  Module 4: Health system reform / integration
  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

    1.  Demonstrate understanding and analyse current public health issues and controversies and critique the different public policy responses to health issues within Australia and internationally.

    2.  Demonstrate understanding of, and describe how, the Australian health care system works.

    3.  Review and critique public health policies and strategies.

    4.  Map patient journeys through different parts of the health system, including acute care, primary care, rural health services and Indigenous health services.

    5. Develop specific oral and written communications, informed by appropriate evidence, to effectively communicate health care issues and research results to policy makers.
    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)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.

    1, 2, 3

    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.

    1, 3, 5

    Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills

    Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.


    Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness

    Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.

    1 - 5

    Attribute 5: Intercultural and ethical competency

    Graduates are responsible and effective global citizens whose personal values and practices are consistent with their roles as responsible members of society.

    1 - 4

    Attribute 6: Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural competency

    Graduates have an understanding of, and respect for, Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander values, culture and knowledge.


    Attribute 7: Digital capabilities

    Graduates are well prepared for living, learning and working in a digital society.


    Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence

    Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.

    3 - 5
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    There is no set textbook for this course. All resources, including links to journal articles and reading lists, will be disseminated via MyUni.

    Recommended Resources
    Online Learning
    The primary means of communication outside of formal contact hours will be via MyUni.

    Announcements and discussion boards will be the main method of communicating with the student cohort.

    Course material will be supported by online resources via MyUni.  Material will be sequentially released in line with the teaching and learning activities in each week.

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    Each week, students will have theoretical and practical input. The content of the lectures aims to provide students with a broad grounding in the Australian health care system – how it works, the role of policy and the practical skills required for policy analysis and how this translates down to the care of individuals.

    Each week the practical will build on the lectures, incorporating group actitivies that provide students with skills that can be applied in the workplace.

    Readings, lectures and contributions from experts in the health policy and health system administration fields will be complemented by online learning opportunities.

    All students are encouraged to question and discuss the issues raised in lectures with the presenter, the guest speakers and with each other.


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

    Each week in this course, there will be a one hour lecture followed by a two hour practical.

    Students will be provided with readings each week that they will be expected to have read to be able to participate effectively in the tutorials and they may be expected to undertake specific preparations for some practicals.
    Learning Activities Summary
    Module 1: Intro to Australian / international health care systems and funding mechanisms
    This module will examine different health systems, how they are funded (e.g. social insurance,  private insurance, national health systems and blended systems) and then compare such systems in terms of cost and health outcomes

    Module 2: Health policy: role, analysis and influences
    This module will explore how policy is formulated; what policy does; how different parts of health system develop policy and what constitutes a policy brief.  

    Module 3: Case studies
    This module will explore both successful and unsuccessful specific policy initiatives and the lessons we might learn from these in developing and implementing future public health policy.
    Module 4: Health system reform / integration
    This module will explore the issues, barriers, enablers and strategies that must be considered in initiatives to reform health systems.
    Specific Course 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 Task Type Weighting Learning Outcome
    Quiz 1 Summative 10% 1
    Tutorial participation Summative 10% 1 - 5
    Short Essay Summative 15% 1, 2, 3
    Policy Brief Summative 30% 1, 2, 5
    Case Study Summative 35% 1, 2, 4

    Assessment Detail
    Quiz 1: students will undertake an online quiz through MyUni at the end of Module 1 - 10% weighting

    Tutorial Participation: students engage in interaction in class activities and the cooperative sharing of materials and information - 10% weighting

    Short essay: 1,000 words. Students will compare and contrast health systems in two countries - 15% weighting

    Policy brief: 1,500 words. Students will write an evidence based policy brief for the Health Minister on a nominated health topic - 30% weighting

    Case study: 2,000 words. Students will develop a case study, following the journey of a patient with a nominated condition, particularly focusing on interactions with different stakeholders and agencies - 35% weighting

    Extensions: 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. 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.

    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.

    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. 

    Resubmission: 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.