PUBH5749 Foundations of Public Health

6 points
(see Timetable)

If this unit does not have an online alternative, then students who are presently unable to enter Western Australia and whose studies would be delayed by an inability to complete this unit, should contact the unit coordinator (details given on this page) to ascertain, on an individual case-by-case basis, if alternate arrangements can be made to support their study in this unit.

Semester 2OnlineOnline flexible 100% Online Unit. NO campus face-to-face attendance is required to complete this unit. All study requirements are online only. Unit is asynchronous delivery, with NO requirement for students to participate online at specific times.
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face Predominantly face-to-face. On campus attendance required to complete this unit. May have accompanying resources online.
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Online timetabled 100% Online Unit. NO campus face-to-face attendance is required to complete this unit. All study requirements are online only. Unit includes some synchronous components, with a requirement for students to participate online at specific times.
This unit offers a broad based introduction to postgraduate public health studies. It covers the theoretical underpinnings and applied academic disciplines of public health. It provides a multidisciplinary grounding in public health theory and practice that draws on subject matter including biomedical, behavioural and social sciences, and the principles and methods of epidemiology and other research disciplines, thereby providing an integrated view of the discipline. In addition to exploring the origins and development of public health, the unit examines the measurement of population health, major public health challenges in developed and developing countries, and the diverse agents, host factors, social, economic, political and environmental conditions that influence the public's health. The unit also explores human rights and equity issues in public health. Examples of public health research and translation are presented, and learning approaches are tailored, to facilitate an integrated view of public health structure and function, health planning and program evaluation.

Students will achieve transdisciplinary grounding in public health theory and practice, and gain substantial breadth and depth of understanding to appreciate the links between public health history, structure and function; and develop the skills for critical analysis and scientific writing in public health.
Students are able to (1) examine theoretical and analytical approaches, dominant paradigms and action frameworks of major eras of public health; (2) outline key approaches towards addressing contemporary public health functions; (3) identify important public health issues in the human lifecycle (maternal and child health, aging); (4) critically analyse public health related concepts such as Sustainable Development Goals; poverty; social determinants of health, and quality in health care; (5) examine major activities of discipline specific and interdisciplinary building blocks in public health: biostatistics; epidemiology; environmental health science; health promotion; health administration; behavioural sciences; health economics; (6) discuss applications of concepts to areas such as occupational health and safety, injury control and public health advocacy to public health practice in Australia and internationally; and (7) describe components of health systems and the concept of quality in health care.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) written assignment; (2) participation and performance in tutorial activities and discussion forums; and (3) final exam. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Professor Linda Slack-Smith
Unit rules
Advisable prior study:
public health related undergraduate and postgraduate units;
Contact hours
seminars: 3 hours per week

This is provided on the LMS (Learning Management System).


  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.