University of Technology Sydney

95727 Introduction to Health Systems

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 structural and functional components of health systems, both in Australia and overseas. Key arrangements, stakeholders, processes and performance trends are explored. Students develop the ability to critically evaluate and plan strategies to address major challenges facing health systems. In this way, the subject provides a foundation for students to understand and influence health system improvement from an evidence-informed position.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:
A. Appraise the structural and functional components of health care systems.
B. Identify the roles and responsibilities of the differing levels of government in the Australian health care system.
C. Investigate key stakeholders in health care systems.
D. Review trends in health service provision, health system performance and health service outcomes in health care systems.
E. Examine disparities and inequities in the experience of health care and services.
F. Investigate key structural and functional challenges in health care systems.
G. Generate and discuss potential solutions to complex issues influencing health care systems.
H. Effectively communicate knowledge, skills and ideas regarding health care systems to peers and facilitators.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the following graduate attributes:

  • Analyse and contextualise complex data including statistical information in public health. (1.1)
  • Promote and enhance the health of diverse groups through evidence-based advocacy strategies and techniques. (1.3)
  • Evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of health projects and programs. (2.1)
  • Develop creative and innovative responses to health issues. (2.2)
  • Identify and use culturally sensitive and appropriate communication techniques aimed at improving health in diverse populations. (3.1)
  • Translate and communicate knowledge and research effectively to various audiences. (3.3)
  • Demonstrates a capacity for autonomy, accountability and critical self-assessment. (3.4)
  • Recognises the need of supportive and responsive evidence-based practice in diverse communities. (4.2)
  • Demonstrates critical thinking in the development and practice of public health. (5.1)
  • Translate public health policy into evidence-based strategies. (5.2)

Teaching and learning strategies

This subject is taught using a variety of teaching and learning strategies. The strategies used emphasise active and applied approaches to developing the ability of students to understand health care systems and apply this knowledge to generate effective, practical solutions to key challenges.

An overarching theme of the approach to teaching and learning in this subject is to support students to actively learn in the classroom, where they can interact with each other and the facilitator who can listen, assist and mentor them. Content-specific knowledge and critical thinking skills will be encouraged via a range of activities, including:

  • pre-class learning via online resources to prepare for active participation in workshops;
  • in-class problem solving and critical thinking activities via cooperative group work;
  • whole class teaching with examples and data; and
  • time in class for students to reflect on assessment tasks and receive guidance.

Students are expected to have completed the relevant e-reading for each week prior to every lecture and tutorial. This will assist more informed in-class discussions to maximise learning opportunities.

Content (topics)

  • What are health care systems?
  • The roles and influence of key stakeholders
  • Understanding the health care workforce
  • Vulnerabilities and disparities in health care systems
  • The distribution of health care services
  • Quality improvement in health care
  • The intractable problem of health care acquired infections
  • Creating a user-friendly health care system
  • Measuring the performance of health care systems
  • Data science and health research to strengthen health care systems
  • Integrated, innovative and evidence-informed health care systems are needed for the future


Assessment task 1: Photo Essay


Provides students with the opportunity to identify and convey factual information that is aligned with subject objectives within a local real world context.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

B, E, G and H

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

1.3, 2.1, 3.1 and 3.3

Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 20%

1000 words (and 6 photos)

Assessment task 2: Group Presentation


Provides students with the opportunity to investigate key structural and functional challenges in healthcare systems and generate and explore potential solutions to complex issues influencing healthcare systems. They will also have the opportunity to effectively transmit
knowledge, skills and ideas regarding health care systems to peers and facilitators.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

C, D, F and H

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

2.1, 2.2, 3.3, 5.1 and 5.2

Groupwork: Group, group assessed
Weight: 30%

Short (6min40sec) Pecha Kucha stye presentation (20 slides, 20 sec each slide) per group to be presented: live or pre-recorded during tutorials. For live presentations, please discuss with your tutor no later than Week 8.

For further information, please refer to material provided on Canvas.

Assessment task 3: Frequently Asked Question Factsheet


Provides students with the opportunity to reinforce learnings gained throughout the subject and prompt critical thinking and analysis of potential solutions to current and emerging health care system challenges.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, D, G and H

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

1.1, 3.1, 3.4, 4.2 and 5.1

Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 30%

1500 words

Assessment task 4: Professionalism


Class participation encourages an improved student focus on in-class learning and activity, and is associated with improved student learning. Dialogue between facilitator and student, and conversation and discussion between students assist in the understanding and sharing of information and skills. Class participation works to encourage and support the development of learning communities within the subject. It supports the UTS Model of Learning by shifting towards an active engagement by students and a focus on learning rather than teaching.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):


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


Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 20%

Recommended texts

Duckett, S and Willcox, S. (2015) The Australian health care system. 5th Ed. Oxford University Press, UK.


Adams D. Quality improvement; part 1: introduction and overview. BJA Educ. 2018;18(3):89-94. doi:10.1016/j.bjae.2017.12.002

Australian Health Policy Collaboration, 'Australia's Health Tracker by Area, 2020', viewed 21 January 2021,

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2016, Australia’s health 2016, Cat. no. AUS 199, vol. 15, AIHW, Canberra.

Batalden, M., Batalden, P., Margolis, P., Seid, M., Armstrong, G., Opipari-Arrigan, L. & Hartung, H. 2016, 'Coproduction of healthcare service', BMJ Quality & Safety, vol. 25, no. 7, pp. 509-17.

Braithwaite, J., Hibbert, P., Blakely, B., Plumb, J., Hannaford, N., Long, J.C. & Marks, D. 2017, 'Health system frameworks and performance indicators in eight countries: a comparative international analysis', SAGE Open Medicine, vol. 5, pp. 1-10.

Dods, S., Hansen, D., Boyle, J., O'Keefe, C., Alem, L., Celler, B., Freyne, J. & Kanagasingam, Y. 2014, A digitally-enabled health system, CSIRO, Marsfield.

Duckett, S., Jorm, C. & Moran, G. 2018, 'Hospitals are risky places – but some are better than others', viewed 21 January 2021,

Duckett, S. & Willcox, S. 2015, The Australian health care system, Oxford University Press.

Jang, J.H., Wu, S., Kirzner, D., Moore, C., Youssef, G., Tong, A., Lourenco, J., Stewart, R.B., McCreight, L.J., Green, K. & McGeer, A. 2010, 'Focus group study of hand hygiene practice among healthcare workers in a teaching hospital in Toronto, Canada', Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 144-50.

Karim, R.S., Kwan, M.M., Finlay, A.J., Kondalsamy-Chennakesavan, S., Toombs, M.R., Nicholson, G.C., McGrail, M. & Gill, N.S. 2019, 'Mortality in hospital patients with and without mental disorders: a data-linkage cohort study', Journal of Psychiatric Research, vol. 111, pp. 104-9.

Our Thought Leaders. 2015, '5 Benefits of Geographic Information Systems in Healthcare', viewed 21 January 2021,

Mason, J. 2013, Review of Australian Government health workforce programs, Australian Government Department of Health, Canberra.

Rump, A. & Schöffski, O. 2016, 'The German and Japanese health care systems: an international comparison using an input–output model', Public Health, vol. 141, pp. 63-73.

Schneider, E.C., Sarnak, D.O., Squires, D., Shah, A. & Doty, M.M. 2017, Mirror, mirror 2017: international comparison reflects flaws and opportunities for better U.S. health care, The Commonwealth Fund, viewed 28 January 2021,

Swan, N. 2015, 'Can Australian Healthcare be saved?', Big Ideas, viewed 21 January 2021,

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 ( and Canvas 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.

The Accessibility and Financial Assistance Service
The Accessibility Service can support students with disabilities, medical or mental health conditions, including temporary injuries (e.g., broken limbs). The Accessibility Service works with Academic Liaison Officers in each Faculty to provide ‘reasonable adjustments’ such as exam provisions, assistive technology, requests and strategies for managing your studies alongside your health condition. If you’re unsure whether you need assistance, we recommend getting in touch early and we can provide advice on how our service can assist you. Make an appointment with an Accessibility Consultant (AC) on +61 2 9514 1177 or

The Financial Assistance Service can assist you with financial aspects of life at university, including Centrelink information, tax returns and budgeting, interest-free student loans and grants to assist with course-related costs. Check eligibility and apply online and make an appointment on +61 2 9514 1177 or