Professional course Introduction to Public Health

Entry year
Course code
Professional/Short Course
Health and Social Sciences

15 credit Masters level module

Page last updated 2 April 2020


Accreditations and partnerships:

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.

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.

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.

Study time

There are 23 hours of classroom based teaching with additional online support. Up to one hour is available for one-to-one tutorial support.


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.

Prices and dates

Supplementary fee information

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How to apply

How to apply

Our how to apply page will assist you in your online application for CPD modules, which you can take as stand-alone courses or as part of an undergraduate or postgraduate programme.

For further information