University of Technology Sydney

92574 Introduction to Public Health

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2024 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Health
Credit points: 6 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


This subject introduces students to the major principles that underpin public health from an Australian perspective. Public health is explored within a population health framework and takes into consideration social, economic and environmental influences on health outcomes in a range of populations. Drawing on recent evidence, students explore key concepts that drive public health such as epidemiology, health promotion and health policy. Students gain an understanding of the role and relevance of public health in promoting good health and preventing poor health in society. Students learn to find, read and communicate information relevant to public health.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:
A. Explain the principles of public health and its role in improving the health care of the community.
B. Locate and interpret published health information in order to present a structured, evidence based opinion on current issues in public health.
C. Describe the health needs of population subgroups and describe the most important reasons for differences in health status
D. Demonstrate understanding that population health considers disease distribution at a population level and that this distribution is influenced by social, cultural, economic, physical and environmental factors.
E. Describe the concepts of health promotion and disease prevention and critically discuss population level prevention strategies.
F. Explain the foundation for developing public policy and making evidence-based, ethical and economically responsible regulatory decisions relating to the most appropriate management of health problems.
G. Define and interpret basic demographic concepts and population measures and why they are important in public health.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the following graduate attributes:

  • Advocate for and engage with individuals and communities to reduce health inequities and promote social justice in a global context (1.0)
  • Are ethical and responsible professionals who value the diversity of people and communities (4.0)

Teaching and learning strategies

This subject is delivered using a variety of teaching and learning approaches to support collaborative learning and development of students’ understanding of public health concepts and knowledge. Students are supported to engage in learning individually and collaboratively. Lectures are delivered with a combination of face-to-face and online means including vodcasts and video presentations. Students are provided with a range of resources to engage with before they attend tutorials. These resources include readings, videos, online discussions and podcasts. During the tutorials students will use their prepared work to collaborate and consolidate their learning in a supportive environment where they will get opportunity to understand, apply and reflect upon selection criteria. They will also be able to engage in non-judgemental peer-based learning.

Weekly sessions include:

  1. Allocated pre-reading or activities that are aligned with weekly in-class learning. This is mandatory preparation and is assessable content.
  2. In-class sessions. These include a number of different formats of delivery to support your learning. For example: group discussions, case studies, debates and online discussions to apply and review content. Topics are expanded through discussion and small group collaborative exercises. Weekly online exercises reinforce core epidemiology concepts and skills, and course resources include selected TED talks, YouTube, podcasts and journal articles. UTSOnline provides a venue to discuss course content and assignments at any time.

An aim of this subject is to help you develop academic and professional language and communication skills in order to succeed at university and in the workplace. To determine your current academic language proficiency, you are required to complete an online language screening task, OPELA (information available at If you receive a Basic grade for OPELA, you must attend additional Language Development Tutorials (each week from weeks 4 to 12) in order to pass the subject. The development of these tutorials is a new university-wide initiative designed to provide personalised support and enhance students’ English language skills. They will focus on developing your communication skills (reading, writing, speaking, listening) and your independent learning skills, which will help you to prepare for the subject assessment tasks and for professional workplace communication tasks.

Content (topics)

  • Introduction to public health
  • Introduction to epidemiology and biostatistics
  • Determinants of health: social perspectives
  • Determinants of health: environmental perspectives
  • Determinants of health: interactions
  • Global and local public health perspectives
  • Introduction to health promotion
  • Ethics in public health
  • Public health policy
  • The public health workforce
  • Contemporary public health challenges (bringing it all together)
  • Reading and writing for health


Assessment task 1: 4 Quizzes


To enhance student understanding by testing their knowledge of the content 4 times throughout the semester.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, B, D and G

This assessment task contributes to the development of graduate attribute(s):

1.0 and 4.0

Type: Quiz/test
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 20%

Display understanding of the subject content throughout the semester.

Assessment task 2: What is public health?


Students will develop an understanding of the nature and scope of public health and how it is implemented in society.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, B and D

This assessment task contributes to the development of graduate attribute(s):

1.0 and 4.0

Type: Exercises
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 15%

Between 500 and 900 words

Assessment task 3: Policy letter


Students will gain an understanding of how public health policy decisions are made and how they affect different parts of society. The activity facilitates understanding for complexity of situations in a public health context.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, B, D, E and F

This assessment task contributes to the development of graduate attribute(s):

1.0 and 4.0

Type: Report
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 30%

Maximum 1000 words (not including references)

Assessment task 4: Public Health Presentation


The presentation will allow the students to grasp general public health systems issues and will gain presentation, communication and teamwork skills.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, B, C, D, E, F and G

This assessment task contributes to the development of graduate attribute(s):

1.0 and 4.0

Type: Presentation
Groupwork: Group, group and individually assessed
Weight: 35%

Each group must present their findings via a PowerPoint presentation with a minimum of 10 slides (maximum 20 slides) including references. Each presentation must not exceed 10 minutes in length.

Word count: Minimum 1000, maximum 2000 words of speaker notes. Text on slides is not included in word count.

Minimum requirements

It is a requirement of this subject that all students complete OPELA. Students who received a Basic grade in the OPELA test are required to attend 80% of the Language Development Tutorials in order to pass the subject. Please see the UTS Student Rules Section 3.8 (detailed under ‘other resources’).


Refer to UTSOnline for access to up to date references for this subject.

Other resources

UTS Student Centre
Building 10

Monday to Friday: 9am - 5pm
Tel: 1300 ASK UTS (1300 275 887)

Details for student centres:

For other resources/ information refer to the Faculty of Health website (, the Health Student Guide ( and UTSOnline at:

UTS Library
The Library has a wide range of resources, facilities and services to support you including textbooks, subject readings, health literature databases, workshops and bookable study rooms. There is also a team of librarians to help you with your questions available via online chat, phone and in person. W:, Facebook: utslibrary, Twitter: @utslibrary Tel: (02) 9514 3666.

Improve your academic and English language skills
Marks for all assessment tasks such as assignments and examinations are given not only for what you write but also for how you write. If you would like the opportunity to improve your academic and English language skills, make an appointment with the HELPS (Higher Education Language & Presentation Support) Service in Student Services.

HELPS (Higher Education Language & Presentation Support)
HELPS provides assistance with English language proficiency and academic language. Students who need to develop their written and/or spoken English should make use of the free services offered by HELPS, including academic language workshops, vacation intensive courses, drop-in consultations, individual appointments and Conversations@UTS ( HELPS staff are also available for drop-in consultations at the UTS Library. Phone (02) 9514 9733.

Please see for additional information on other resources provided to students by UTS.