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Foundations of Public Health (POPH90217)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codePOPH90217
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject is a compulsory subject within the Master of Public Health. It lays the foundation for the degree and provides an orientation to the field of public health. It provides a critical overview of public health historical development, conceptual underpinnings and practice in the following domains.

History and distinguishing features of public health and population health: The historical development of public health is traced. The distinguishing features of public health, emphasising the health of groups and populations rather than a focus on the health of an individual, are presented and explored. Key points of transition in the health of populations over time are identified. The scientific disciplines that make up the toolbox of modern population health are described.

Determinants of the health of individuals, groups and populations: Determinants of health affecting the health of individuals, and populations are identified, recognising that social determinants work in concert with environmental and biological factors. The health of indigenous people in Australia is examined and resources provided to assist in understanding common influences on the health of indigenous people world-wide. The increasing importance of health and human rights locally and globally is discussed, including an examination of the ethical frameworks relevant to public health practice.

Strategies and Systems: Major strategies and approaches to public health including health protection, health improvement and health care quality assessment are presented, with illustrations from local and international experience. The elements and function of health systems are defined and the roles of principal public health agencies internationally and nationally are described.

Achievements and challenges: The significant achievements in public health from the late 20 th century through to the 21 st century are identified and emerging challenges and possible solutions are explored, including in relation to indigenous populations.

Intended learning outcomes

At the completion of this subject, students should be able to:

  • Describe the principal population-based approaches to health and distinguish them from individual-based approaches.
  • Describe how and in what contexts organised, population-based approaches to health are applied
  • Discuss the historical development of population-based concepts and organised approaches to health and how this has influenced current health services and public health interventions.
  • Identify the key components of a health system and analyse the relative importance of different health system elements in different settings and contexts
  • Discuss the role of socio-cultural, environmental and biological factors in shaping the health of populations, including indigenous populations, and identify the relative influence of these factors in different settings and contexts.
  • Describe the relationship between human rights and the health of particular populations.
  • Critically examine the ethical principles embedded in provision of healthcare and public health programs.
  • Describe modern advances in public health and discuss challenges and possible responses to emerging health problems locally and globally, including in relation to indigenous populations.

Generic skills

Upon completion of this subject, students will have developed skills in:

  • Critical thinking and analysis
  • Oral communication
  • Written communication
  • Finding, evaluating and using relevant information
  • Persuasion and argumentation

Last updated: 9 November 2018