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Unit outline_

PUBH5036: Public Health: Critical Challenges

Semester 1, 2023 [Online] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit introduces you to the theoretical and practical underpinnings of public health via a diverse range of case studies. Together we will critically analyse what public health is and what it seeks to achieve. We will explore key concepts that will be taken up in more detail in other core and elective units, challenge current orthodoxies, and seek to develop a reflective and analytical approach to public health practice and research. We will have a particular focus on exploring the health and well-being challenges experienced by indigenous peoples, migrants and other disadvantaged groups, in Australia and globally. We will do this through considering the meaning of evidence and the historical and contemporary public health context, with the aim of working together to identify ethical, innovative and effective solutions. Throughout this unit you will be encouraged to interact with your unit coordinators, tutors and fellow students, ask questions, and respectfully debate answers to questions such as: What is public health? What does it mean to think beyond the social determinants? What is equity and why does it matter? Integration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges and perspectives: This unit pays particular attention to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander public health challenges and solutions. The Sydney School of Public Health is committed to graduating public health professionals who have the competence and confidence to work effectively and respectfully with Australia's First Peoples. This unit will help prepare you for this work and provide important foundational knowledge that will be further advanced in concurrent and subsequent Master of Public Health units of study.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit Public Health
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Claire Hooker,
Lecturer(s) Jasper Garay,
Claire Hooker,
Diego Silva,
Edward Jegasothy,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Online task Online discussion
Online discussion post
10% Multiple weeks 250 word Original Post
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5
Online task Online discussion
Online discussion post
5% Multiple weeks 150 word Response Post
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5
Tutorial quiz Readings and quizzes
Online quizzes
6% Week 02 6 quizzes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO2
Participation Workshop 1 participation
Online recorded lectures and associated lecture activities
5% Week 04 2 days
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO2
Online task synthesis grids
complete synthesis grids for each of three selected workshop 2 readings
9% Week 06 1 grid/ reading x 3 Workshop 2 readings
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO2
Participation Workshop 2 attendance/lecture activities
Online recorded lectures and associated lecture activities
5% Week 07 3 days
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO2
Assignment Draft Essay
draft essay
15% Week 08
Due date: 21 Apr 2023 at 23:59
1000 word draft essay
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Assignment Essay
Written assessment
45% Week 13
Due date: 22 May 2023 at 23:59
3000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2

Assessment summary

  • Readings and quizzes: Quizzes will assess your ability to critically engage with the content of the required readings.
  • Workshop 1 and 2 attendance/engagement: Online students are to watch the recorded lectures and complete associated lecture activities in Canvas.
  • Online discussion posts: Participate in, and generate robust discussion by asking questions, answering other students’ questions, and contributing to the discussion by adding additional thoughts.
  • Essay: Choose one of the provided topics and answer the relevant essay question. 

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 03 Lecture recordings from workshop Online class (15 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 07 Lecture recordings from workshop Online class (21 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5

Attendance and class requirements


  • Block mode students are to attend two workshops, plus complete associated online lecture activities. 
  • Online mode students have no face-to-face requirements, lecture recordings and online lecture activities only.

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

Readings will be provided in 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. understand key historical and theoretical foundations for public health
  • LO2. demonstrate an understanding of relevant concepts in public health ethics
  • LO3. make considered arguments about the ethical dimensions of public health
  • LO4. critically appraise methods and evidence used in public health
  • LO5. demonstrate an understanding of the primordial determinants of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

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.

The unit coordinator group has made significant revisions


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.