Credit points



PUBH103 Epidemiology

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning

Unit 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 practice. 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 answerable research questions, sources of primary data and qualitative and quantitative data analysis and presentation. 

Students will be asked to design a plan for research in a major 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 enable students to conduct research independently and to critically appraise methodological aspects of existing research. 

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Evaluate the process of qualitative data collection, management and analysis (GA 5, 8). 

LO2 - Evaluate statistical tests reported in articles and reports (GA 4, 8). 

LO3 - Collect, manage and analyse public health datasets using statistical software (GA 5, 8). 

LO4 - Select and apply appropriate analytical frameworks for evidence-based public health practice (GA 4, 5). 

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


Topics will include: 

  • Qualitative research methods 
  • Approaches and analysis techniques 
  • Quantitative research methods 
  • Approaches and analysis techniques 
  • Association and causation 
  • Inference, statistical significance, confidence intervals 
  • Simple statistical tests (chi square; t-tests) 
  • Research questions and literature reviews 
  • Public health research ethics 
  • Development of research proposals 
  • Approaches to research transfer 
  • Health Services Research / Health Technology Assessment 
  • Measures of health status in individuals and populations 
  • Sources of population level data 
  • Data linkage 


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 both lectures 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 on-campus lecture style classes, which will also be recorded allowing asynchronous access. Students are required to attend facilitated tutorial classes in a computer lab to participate in the co-construction and synthesis of this knowledge with other students so as 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 allows 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

In order to pass this unit students are required to obtain an overall final mark of at least 50% (final grade of PA or above) from the marks from all three assessment tasks (described below). The assessment tasks for this unit are designed for the students to demonstrate their achievement of each learning outcome. The assessment strategy commences with an assessment task in qualitative research in the form of a Photovoice assignment. In the second assessment task students are required to demonstrate skills in quantitative research in the form of analysing a dataset from a fictitious study. In the final assessment task the students have to apply their newly acquired skills to designing and conceptualising a research proposal in either qualitative or quantitative research. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assignment 1: Written paper 1000 words 

To enable and evaluate understanding of qualitative methods of data collection. 



GA4, GA5 

Assignment 2: Written paper with data in tables and brief interpretations of data analysis 

To enable and assess knowledge and application of 

quantitative research methods. 


LO2, LO4 

GA4, GA8 

Assignment 3: Written paper 1500 words To enable and assess the translation of knowledge of public health research methods. 


LO1, LO3 

GA2, GA4, GA8, GA10 

Representative texts and references

Liamputtong, P. (Ed.) (2017). Research Methods in Health: Foundations for Evidence-Based Practice (3rd ed.). 

South Melbourne: Oxford University Press. 


Pencheon, D., Guest, C., Melzer, D., Muir Gray, J. A. (Eds) (2011). Oxford Handbook of Public Health Practice (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press (Note: available as e-book through ACU Library). 

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