Skip to main content
Unit outline_

HSBH2008: Physical Activity and Population Health

Intensive March, 2021 [Block mode] - Remote

This unit of study provides students with an opportunity to develop an up-to-date critical understanding of the role of physical activity for the health of the population as well as the most promising principles that underpin mass-level physical activity interventions. Students will examine in detail the population's participation patterns and barriers to be physically active and has a primary focus on every-day incidental (non-sporting) physical activity for the prevention of physical and mental chronic disease. The unit is largely multi-disciplinary and it goes beyond disease prevention, to explore themes like positive wellbeing/happiness and maintenance of functional ability and independence to an older age. This unit takes a lifespan approach and actively promotes an understanding of the direct and distal implications of physical inactivity at each life stage. Particular acknowledgement is given to physical activity as a behaviour that is not merely a lifestyle 'choice' as it is often thought by medicine and other individual-centred disciplines; but rather the outcome of a complex web of societal, cultural, economic, political and individual circumstances that lead to the formation of personal habits across the lifespan. The entire unit will be largely interactive and will encourage students to discuss, debate, and critically evaluate the evidence, and provides the opportunity to have a project that will assist in future employment. At the start of the unit the students will be provided with an accessible and user-friendly set of skills and tools (e.g. statistics, physical activity measurement) to enable them to make the most of the learning experience.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit Health Sciences
Credit points 6
48 credit points of units
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Corinne Caillaud,
Lecturer(s) Corinne Caillaud,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Essay Part 1
Structured summary of database search (template provided)
10% Week 04
Due date: 22 Mar 2021 at 23:59
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2
Assignment Essay part 2
Structured Draft Essay
5% Week 06
Due date: 12 Apr 2020 at 23:59
1 page max
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO8
Assignment Pitch
Recorded 1 min Pitch + 2 min Rational
25% Week 08
Due date: 26 Apr 2021 at 23:35
3 min max
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO8
Assignment Essay Final submission
Written essay
45% Week 09
Due date: 03 May 2021 at 23:20
2000 words max
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO8 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Self Reflection
Written self reflection on self-assessment of physical activity
15% Week 09
Due date: 07 May 2021 at 23:45
500 words max
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO7

Assessment summary

  • Assessment 1: Essay. Students will be guided through structured assessment tasks to provide a 2000 words written essay on a topic of their choice related to physical activity. A list of relevant topics will be provided. This an individual assessment.
  • Assessment 2: Pitch. Students will pitch the public health message arising from their essay and explain their approach in designing this important message to the public. This an individual assessment.
  • Assessment 3: Self reflection. Students will reflect on their experience self-monitoring physical activity againts individual goals.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 02 Introduction and epidemiology of physical activity Lecture (3 hr)  
Week 03 Physical activity in children and adolescents Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 04 Physical activity and sedentary behavior and the role of health professionals Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 05 Young adults and physical activity, considerations of external and internal environmental factors Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 06 Determinants of physical activity in adult population groups Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 07 Physical activity in the ageing population Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  
Week 08 Physical activity in special contexts Lecture and tutorial (5 hr)  

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

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

  • LO1. Understand the most essential statistical and methodological concepts of public health, epidemiology, and define physical activity as part of the 24-hour continuum, differentiating between key terms such as sedentary behaviour, physical activity, exercise, and fitness
  • LO2. Classify the main physical activity measurements and develop a good understanding of the strengths and limitations of each method
  • LO3. Discuss the use of physical activity and sedentary behaviour surveillance systems in Australia, other developed countries and the developing world, and identify common denominators in countries with similar prevalence patterns
  • LO4. Understand determinants and correlates of physical activity, and whether and how individual and population level physical activity determinants can be modified
  • LO5. Debate the role of the broader sociocultural, economic, and political environment as determinants of physical activity in children and adults and describe how physical activity habits in childhood influence future health and future behaviour in adulthood
  • LO6. Identify the positive wellbeing-promoting properties of physically active lifestyles (beyond disease prevention and treatment) for optimisation of and maintenance of functional ability, mental wellbeing, and independence at all ages, including an understanding of the complex links between mental wellbeing and physical activity
  • LO7. Debate the potential of self-monitoring for the population’s physical activity behaviour change, the promise of commercial wearable devices, public transportation and active transportation as drivers to self-monitoring physical activity
  • LO8. Differentiate between individual-level vs. population-level approaches to physical activity behaviour change and identify the main applications of each approach, determining the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of public health and individual level interventions in the context of health behaviours.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Assessment framework has been revised to provide formative assessment tasks and support students' progression toward final submission.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.