Credit points


Campus offering

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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.

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

LO1 Describe and explain the key concepts and processes required for rigorous public health research (GA1,GA5, GA7,GA8,GA9). 

LO2 -1.   Develop a critical understanding of the strengths and limitations of quantitative and qualitative research methods and techniques (GA4, GA7,GA8.GA9, GA10). 

LO3 -Demonstrate an ability to analyse data (GA4,GA5.GA7,GA8,GA9,GA10 ). 

LO4 -Develop 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) (GA 4, GA7,GA8,GA9.GA10). 

LO5- Apply learned knowledge in developing a research proposal to address a public health problem (e.g., disease) (GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10)

Graduate attributes

GA1    Demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA3    Apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making 

GA4 - Think critically and reflectively 

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

GA7    Work both autonomously and collaboratively

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

GA9 - Demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media

GA10 -Utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively


Topics will include: 

  • Qualitative research methods 
  • Approaches and analytical techniques 
  • Quantitative research methods 
  • Approaches and analytical techniques 
  • Association and causation 
  • 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 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

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 the students to demonstrate their achievement of each learning outcome. The assessment strategy commences with an assessment task to demonstrate knowledge of foundational Public Health-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 OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assignment 1:

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



GA4, GA5 

Assignment 2:

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


LO2, LO4 

GA4, GA8 

Assignment 3:

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


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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