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Unit of study_

MECO6919: Health Communication

This unit introduces key concepts in health communication. Students will explore micro- and macro-level theories of health (behaviour) communication that inform the design and implementation of health communication campaigns, planned and unplanned effects of communication campaigns, and the evaluation of such campaigns. It aims to give students a critical and practical understanding of theory and research concerning the role of communication in health promotion efforts.


Academic unit Media and Communications
Unit code MECO6919
Unit name Health Communication
Session, year
Semester 1, 2020
Attendance mode Normal day
Location Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator Olaf Werder,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Presentation Discussion facilitation
15% Multiple weeks 500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4
Assignment Research essay on health issue
Long-answer essay
25% Week 07
Due date: 10 Apr 2020 at 22:00
1500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3
Assignment Strategy paper
Long-answer essay
40% Week 13
Due date: 31 May 2020 at 22:00
3000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3
Assignment Weekly comments
Online submission (Canvas)
20% Weekly 1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO4
  • Weekly commentary: Each student will provide a brief commentary/critique and related question(s) on the respective reading material assigned for that week the evening before class meets or earlier. 
  • Discussion facilitation: Depending on final enrolment numbers, students will be either single or paired and choose a week, in which they will lead us in the discussion of the topic of that week.
  • Research essay: Part 1 of 2 of your semester-long writing project to propose a workable health intervention strategy for a specific public health concern.
  • Research paper: Part 2 of 2 of your semester-long writing project. Following on from the research essay, you will transition to developing communication strategies and concepts that have the potential to be impactful, measurable, and show an understanding of the critical role of human dialogue and communication in helping to improve public health. 

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

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.

Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure or if you have essential commitments which impact your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

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.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction to the course Seminar (2 hr) LO2
Week 02 Defining health communication Seminar (2 hr) LO3
Week 03 Public health and the media Seminar (2 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 04 Theories in health communcation 1 Seminar (2 hr) LO1
Week 05 Theories in health communication 2 Seminar (2 hr) LO1
Week 06 1. Health literacy; 2. Policy and behaviour change in practice Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO4
Week 07 Persuasion in health communication Seminar (2 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 08 Social marketing techniques Seminar (2 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 09 Evaluation of intervention (lessons learned) Seminar (2 hr) LO2 LO4
Week 10 Case studies 1 (AIDS, obesity, smoking) Seminar (2 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 11 Case studies 2 (alcohol, drugs, infections) Seminar (2 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 12 Directions for health communication 1 (technique) Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 13 Directions for health communication 2 (humanism) Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: According to Faculty Board Resolutions, students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences are expected to attend 90% of their classes. If you attend less than 50% of classes, regardless of the reasons, you may be referred to the Examiner’s Board. The Examiner’s Board will decide whether you should pass or fail the unit of study if your attendance falls below this threshold.
  • Preparation: Students should commit to spend approximately three hours’ preparation time (reading, studying, homework, essays, etc.) for every hour of scheduled instruction.

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.

Required readings

All readings for this unit can be accessed through the Library eReserve, available on Canvas.

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. Recognise the interplay of theories and assumptions on outcomes and effects
  • LO2. Learn about the dissemination of health-related content
  • LO3. Study and develop processes of communication that influence public health
  • LO4. Train thoughtful critique and engagement of others in issues debates

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
Thank you for your feedback on the Unit of Study Survey (USS) for MECO6919. I am satisfied that we had a decent response rate of 87%. I will reflect on the ratings you gave, and the comments you made, and will use them to make improvements in the unit. The unit was overall again quite well evaluated. There were a few things that I will try to improve following from your comments: 1) Although not many said this, some comments expressed a desire to have more practical training or collaborative study experiences on cases and campaigns, in short, train and improve applied skills. While it is harder to get some professional to commit to all sections of the unit, it is a good ideas and I will attempt to figure out how this can be implemented. 2) Others mentioned that they would like to see some more lecturing and explaining by the instructor instead of class discussion (especially due to uneven student participation). Although there is a pre-recorded 45-min lecture for each meeting and I have provided a summary at the start of each meeting, we will attempt to increase the synoptic lecture component during our course meetings that summarise the key points of each topic. 3) Given the diversity of students in this course with a growing number less inclined to share their thoughts, we have to review and revise the discussion format altogether. Aside from that, I was satisfied that a majority of you (87-91%) were overall satisfied with the quality of the course and found it intellectually rewarding. If you would like to give us any further feedback about the unit, we'll be happy to reflect on those as well.
  • As per School policy, students must complete all assignments in the unit to obtain a grade and avoid an automatic Absent Fail (AF) mark
  • Contact your seminar teacher for course-specific questions (e.g., group issues, etc.), contact the unit coordinator for larger issues (simple extensions, special consideration, seminar switches/course clashes, etc.)
  • Apply for extensions (where applicable) sufficiently ahead of the due date, not the day before or day of (exceptions are emergencies). Note that there are no individual extensions for group efforts. 
  • If you drop a class after being assigned to a group, please contact both the coordinator and your group mates immediately. 
  • If you are unsure about whether this unit is right for you (in case it is an elective), please make an appointment with the coordinator and discuss it instead of disrupting class proceedings by enrolling/disenrolling within a week or two. 
  • More information can be found on Canvas after enrolment


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