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Unit of study_

BETH5203: Public Health Ethics

This unit provides students with an overview of the ethical and political issues that underlie public health policy and practice. The unit begins with some fundamentals about the nature of public health. We then explore key concepts in public health ethics including equity, liberty, utility, justice, and solidarity, and consider different ways of reasoning about the ethics of public health. A range of current public health problems and issues are presented and discussed, including ‘lifestyle’ diseases, screening, public mental health, health communication, and pandemics. Throughout, the emphasis is on learning to make sound arguments about the ethical aspects of public health policy, practice and research. Students will be encouraged to ask questions, and to compare and debate competing answers to those questions. What is public health? To what extent should we each be free to engage in practices that harm our health? What is the proper role of the state in attempting to change the health of populations? What is equity and why does it matter (and why aren’t we doing more about it)? Most learning occurs in the context of five teaching interactive intensives and the assigned course readings, which focus on the development and application of reasoning skills.

Code BETH5203
Academic unit Public Health
Credit points 6

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. demonstrate an understanding of a wide range of relevant concepts in public health ethics
  • LO2. form considered arguments about the ethical dimensions of public health
  • LO3. apply ethical concepts to analyse cases in public health policy and/or practice.