University of Technology Sydney

96700 Communicable Disease

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

Subject level:


Result type: Grade and marks

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


The prevention, detection, management and control of communicable diseases which affect human populations is a significant public health priority. Understanding the interactions between microorganisms, animals and humans promotes knowledge of transmission dynamics, susceptibility and primary prevention of communicable diseases. Exploring the burden of disease and epidemiology of communicable diseases globally enables more in-depth understanding of the social and ecological determinants of communicable diseases. Public health responses and challenges are examined using historical and contemporary examples, including the current global pandemic caused by the SARS-Cov2 virus. The principles of communicable diseases control such as surveillance, outbreak investigation, control measures and prevention are demonstrated using case studies. Finally, the mandate for integrated, coordinated, collaborative, interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral approaches, consumer-engagement and advocacy are deliberated and discussed.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:
A. Describe, with examples, the interactions between microorganisms and humans and/ or animals that may have public health importance
B. Demonstrate the epidemiological principles underpinning communicable disease prevention and control
C. Critically analyse the relationships between social determinants of health and communicable disease outbreaks
D. Analyse, interpret and develop responses to outbreak data
E. Critically appraise the use of public health approaches to communicable disease control

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the following graduate attributes:

  • Demonstrate reflective critical thinking to enable critical appraisal of current practice, policy and research with the aim to enhance health care and healthcare outcomes, and transform health (1.0)
  • Critique, interpret and synthesise data and research findings to inform the surveillance, management, prevention of disease and illness and promotion of health for the complex issues inherent in public health (1.1)
  • Justify and demonstrate knowledge and skills necessary to provide leadership on matters critical to public health (2.1)
  • Contribute to policy-related dialogue and evaluation of public health strategies in the community (2.3)
  • Are socially, culturally and ethically accountable when engaging with individuals, families, interdisciplinary teams, communities, organisations and jurisdictions (3.0)
  • Create and lead ethical accountability to ensure efficient use of resources and equity of access to public health services and programs (3.1)
  • Communicate and collaborate to provide optimal outcomes in public health practice and research (4.1)
  • Advocate for, create and respect the engagement of partnerships on matters critical to public health (4.2)
  • Establish a commitment to the development of knowledge and skills within public health in order to prioritise reducing disease, disability and illness (5.1)
  • Demonstrate respect and value for world view differences and in particular Australian Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing (6.1)
  • Critically reflect upon the impact of ongoing colonisation and its pervasive discourse on Indigenous Australians and their health and wellbeing (6.2)

Teaching and learning strategies

In this subject teaching and learning will take place entirely online. Students will participate in a range of teaching and learning activities and are expected to engage with one another online, including through assessed small group discussion forums, as well as with their Subject Coordinator and Teachers. As well as engaging with prepared, structured learning materials and activities that present weekly topics on Communicable Disease, students will be expected to search for relevant information and resources, read papers, listen to podcasts or watch film clips, and reflect on the issues presented in order to respond to key questions and with other students in on-line forums. Zoom meetings with the Subject Coordinator and Teachers and experts/guest speakers will be scheduled to explore aspects of the curriculum in more depth.

Content (topics)

Preparation Week
During the preparation week, peruse information in Canvas under 'Get Started', including the welcome message, subject outline and expectations for participation in this online subject. Students should also complete pre-class activities which include introductions and principles of participation in discussions and groupwork.

Module 1: Principles of communicable disease management and control

Week 1

  • Introduction to communicable disease
  • Microorganisms - taxonomy; microbiology; pathogenicity; virulence
  • Incubation, clinical infection, disease, diagnosis

Week 2

  • Introduction to communicable disease epidemiology
  • Transmission dynamics – modes of transmission, Koch’s postulates, vectors, R0
  • Terminology: index case, case definition, case fatality rate, incidence, prevalence, outbreak, epidemic, pandemic

Week 3

  • Testing and screening – sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value
  • Social determinants of communicable disease

Week 4

  • Communicable disease prevention
  • Communicable disease surveillance
  • Outbreak investigation

Module 2: Communicable disease management

Week 5

  • Prevention principles (primary/ secondary/ tertiary) and examples
  • Immunisation
  • Screening

Week 6

  • Water, sanitation and disease
  • Environmental management
  • Vector-borne diseases and their control

Week 7

  • Management of food-borne diseases
  • Sexually transmissible infections
  • Approaches to addressing antimicrobial resistant bacteria

Week 8

  • Health promotion and communicable diseases management
  • The role of non-health agencies
  • Engaging communities

Module 3: Key issues in communicable/infectious disease

Week 9

  • Globalisation and the spread of infectious diseases
  • Pandemics and epidemics

Week 10

  • Addressing social determinants of health and communicable disease
  • Public health policies and strategies in Australia

Week 11

  • Public health action on communicable disease globally
  • Systems/theory thinking in communicable diseases

Week 12

  • Interconnection of humans, animals and ecosystems in communicable diseases


Assessment task 1: Application of communicable disease control principles: online quiz series


To assess knowledge, understanding and application of fundamental concepts in communicable diseases transmission, epidemiology, social determinants, and principles of control and prevention.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, B and C

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

1.0, 1.1 and 2.1

Weight: 30%

10 questions per quiz. 60 minutes to complete each quiz.

Assessment task 2: Outbreak investigation: small group discussion forums


Students develop skills in outbreak investigation and teamwork, by applying knowledge of communicable disease transmission, epidemiology, surveillance and control.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, B, D and E

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

1.1, 2.3, 3.0, 4.1 and 6.1

Weight: 35%

Three group posts on the Discussion board of 300 words, 1000 words and 500 words

Assessment task 3: Addressing the social determinants of communicable disease morbidity: a consultation report


To apply knowledge about the social determinants of health to the prevention and management of communicable diseases.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):


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

2.3, 3.1, 4.2, 5.1 and 6.2

Weight: 35%

1800 words

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 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.