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Professional Development
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Introduction to Public Health

Course Details

Course/Module Code





19-20 Non-accredited 15 credits



19-20 Accredited 15 credits



Course Dates

Under the start date is shown: all attendance days and Apply for this course.




Students undertake one item of coursework comprising a 3,000 word essay. The full assignment details are published in Blackboard on the first teaching day. The coursework requires students to critically discuss a public health issue from a multidisciplinary perspective, based on a recent tabloid newspaper article provided.



Careers/further study

This module contributes towards:

  • MSc Public Health
  • MSc Environmental Health.


The course syllabus includes:

  • Philosophical and theoretical perspectives on health, illness and public health, including epistemological and ontological arguments and social theories of subjectivity/objectivity, induction/deduction, structure, agency, human nature and modernity.
  • Philosophical perspectives on community and society: community organisation; group and organisational theory; political ideology (individualism, collectivism, communitarianism, market capitalism, etc).
  • Political and ethical values in public health: e.g. beneficence, equity, social justice, altruism, interdependence, social responsibility, harm principle, freedom, risk, etc.
  • Contributions of primary academic disciplines to public health, specifically sociology, ecology, psychology, education, political science, economics and biomedicine.
  • Historical and geographic trends and developments: evolution of the public health field; rise and prominence of biomedicine; national and international political developments (including WHO); global public health trends.
  • Determinants of health and illness: national and international trends; cultural, social, environmental and political contexts; key health drivers.
  • Inequalities in health, healthcare, opportunity and social status: social justice; rights and freedoms; local, national and international classification and social stratification (occupation, income, ethnicity, race, culture, religion, generation, age, gender, sexuality, opportunity and ability); political and ethical debates on inequality.


On successful completion of the Introduction to Public Health module students will be able to access, synthesise, critically analyse and apply knowledge and understanding of:

  • The theoretical, philosophical and conceptual foundations of public health, derived from the natural, social, human and environmental sciences.
  • The determinants of health and illness, particularly in relation to social, environmental and political contexts.
  • Political values and ethical frameworks in public health.
  • Historical and geographical trends in the development of public health.
  • Health and social inequalities as determinants and consequences of health status and experience.
  • Public health risk and surveillance from epidemiological and social science perspectives.
  • Public health ethics, rights and accountabilities.
  • The contributions of different sectors, institutions and professions to public health.

Learning and Teaching

The module is taught over eight half days in semester 1.

The module begins at 09:30-12:30 on Thursday 26 September 2019, then every Thursday afternoon 13:30-16:00 up to and including 14 November 2019. Classroom based teaching comprises interactive lectures, which are supported with a comprehensive range of online learning resources.


+44 (0)117 32 81158


15 credit Masters level module

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