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PUBH103 Epidemiology

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit presents an overview of public health research methods to ensure students are able to build an evidence-based argument to support public health in practice (including research). This unit is necessary for acquiring essential knowledge and skills in quantitative and qualitative research methods. Contemporary examples of the use and misuse of public health research from the lay and professional media will be used as a guide for development of skills in evidence-based practice. Content will focus on both quantitative and qualitative approaches to public health research, public health ethics, the development of relevant research questions, sources of primary data and qualitative and quantitative data analysis and presentation. 

Students will be asked to design a plan for research to address a public health problem. Where appropriate, students will also learn about specific and culturally appropriate approaches to research towards the enhancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and well-being. The aim of this unit is to provide students with the opportunity to develop skills to conduct research independently and to critically appraise existing research. 

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Describe and explain the key concepts and processes required for rigorous public health researchGC1, GC11
LO2Develop a critical understanding of the strengths and limitations of quantitative and qualitative research methods and techniquesGC1, GC7, GC11
LO3Demonstrate an ability to analyse dataGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC11
LO4Develop a critical understanding of the key skills and processes required to interpret and communicate public health research to an audience/s (e.g., scientific community)GC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11
LO5Apply learned knowledge in developing a research proposal to address a public health problem (e.g., disease)GC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11


Topics will include: 

  • Qualitative and quantitative research methods 
  • Research questions and literature reviews 
  • Public health research ethics 
  • Development of research proposals 
  • Approaches to research transfer 
  • Approaches to research communication


Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is offered in attendance mode to ensure high quality interactive and constructive peer learning. This unit comprises online learning material, lecture support sessions and tutorials, using an active learning approach to support students in acquiring and applying knowledge and skills in public health research methods. Students are able to explore this essential knowledge in a series of asynchronous workbooks supplemented by live online lecture-style classes. Students are required to attend facilitated tutorial classes to participate in the co-construction and synthesis of this knowledge with other students, to develop a level of understanding sufficient to apply different research methods in public health. This approach is designed to ensure learning within a proximal social environment and allow for essential skill development with expert support. The curriculum ensures that students are actively engaged in applying essential concepts and skills in public health research methods. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements. In order to successfully complete this unit, students need to obtain an aggregate mark of greater than or equal to 50%.

The assessment tasks for this unit are designed for students to demonstrate their achievement of each learning outcome. The assessment strategy commences with an assessment task to demonstrate knowledge of foundational research related concepts and processes. A second assessment task requires students to demonstrate skills in analysing data, critiquing research methods and techniques, and effectively communicating findings to audience/s of choice. In the final assessment task, students are required to apply their newly acquired skills to designing and conceptualising a research proposal employing an appropriate methodology. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1:

Written task: Students will demonstrate their understanding of the key concepts and steps involved in public health research.



Assessment Task 2:

Multi-media task: Students will demonstrate their ability to analyse data, critically evaluate research methods, and communicate findings.


LO2, LO3, LO4

Assessment Task 3:

Multi-media task: Students will apply knowledge and understanding to develop an appropriate research proposal.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

Representative texts and references

Greenhalgh, T. M., Bidwell, J., Crisp, E., Lambros, A., & Warland, J. (2019). Understanding research methods for evidence-based practice in health (Second edition.). John Wiley & Sons Australia.

Johri, N. (2021). Health services research and analytics using Excel . Springer Publishing Company.

Kawachi, I., Lang, I., & Ricciardi, W. (2020). Oxford handbook of public health practice (4th ed). Oxford University Press. (Note: available as e-book through ACU Library).

Liamputtong, P. (2017). Research Methods in Health: Foundations for Evidence-Based Practice (3rd ed.). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press. (Noteavailable as e-book through ACU Library).

Pautasso, M. (2013). Ten Simple Rules for Writing a Literature Review. PLoS Computational Biology, 9(7), e1003149–e1003149.

Salazar, L. F., Crosby, R. A., DiClemente, R. J., & Mijares, A. (2015). Research methods in health promotion (2nd ed.). Jossey-Bass.

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