Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

Health is determined by many factors within and beyond the health sector. Public health professionals must have a detailed understanding of these factors in order to improve population health and wellbeing. Students will learn to critique the evidence and participate in key debates on health determinants, and the implications for creating healthy and equitable societies. Complex public health/social issues involving multiple health determinants will be explored. The unit will help students to consolidate their critical analysis of health determinants , the interaction between determinants and the promotion and maintenance of healthy social and physical environments. This unit aims to provide students with the opportunity to develop critical understanding of the determinants of health, inequalities in their distribution within the population, and the ability to critically discuss approaches to addressing these inequalities.

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. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of health determinants and their significance to public health.(GA2, GA5)  

LO2. Critically evaluate the impact of health determinants on individual and population level health outcomes. (GA2, GA4, GA8)  

LO3. Critique key debates on determinants of health, in consideration of individual responsibility and structures related to health (GA1, GA2, GA3)

LO4. Critically reflect on the impact of social, political, ethical, economic and ecological factors/determinants on public health interventions (GA2, GA3, GA8)

LO5. Critically assess environmental health risks using practice-based evaluative frameworks and recommend appropriate evidence-based interventions ( GA5, GA6, GA8)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

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 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

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


Topic will include: 

Introduction to health determinants 

  • Major types of health determinants, including prevalence and population distribution 
  • Historical aspects: discovery and debates over health determinants 
  • Causal processes and pathways 

 Key health determinants

  • Biological determinants of health: genetics and body composition
  • Behavioural determinants of health: risky behaviours (e.g. tobacco use) and protective behaviours (e.g. healthy diet, physical activity and seatbelt use)
  • Social and economic determinants of health: e.g. gender, cultural and religious background, socioeconomic status, interpersonal relationships and associations, education, financial resources, and employment status
  • Environmental determinants of health: e.g. air quality, water quality, soil/land quality, climate, geography, built environment, and food environment

Implications for creating healthy societies

  • Current ethical and political debates regarding determinants of health: e.g. individual responsibility versus structures
  • Interactions between determinants and the relationship to health (e.g., in at-risk groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders)
  • Approaches to developing targeted, evidence-based interventions Assessment, management and control of specific environmental health issues
  • Assessment, management and control of specific environmental health issues

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

PUBH630 is offered in both multi-mode and online mode. 



In multi-mode, this unit is delivered primarily via face-to-face sessions on campus. It comprises weekly lectures and tutorials during the semester, using student-centred teaching and active learning approach, to support students in the exploration of determinants of health. Lectures are used to teach essential theory and concepts. This learning is then reinforced through facilitated tutorial activities involving reading, writing, discussion, and problem solving, which support students to synthesize and apply knowledge and develop deep understanding of determinants of health. Online content via the ACU Learning Environment Online (LEO) also supports this acquisition.  


Online mode  

In online mode, students acquire essential theoretical and practical knowledge of determinants of health in a flexible online learning environment, which involves a series of specifically designed learning activities. This learning is extended and reinforced through readings, online discussion forums and other interactive activities to develop understanding of health determinants and their implications for creating healthy and equitable societies. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

Please note assessment is the same for students undertaking either multi-mode or online mode. 

A range of assessments 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 50%.  

For PUBH630, assessments will consider both theoretical and practical aspects relating to health determinants and environmental health. The assessment strategy allows students to progressively develop their knowledge and skills in identifying determinants of health and their implications for public health practice. In order to develop the knowledge and skills required to achieve the learning outcomes and Graduate Attributes, students first undertake a written assessment task to demonstrate their understanding of the evidence and key debates on determinants of a specific health issue. They will extend and synthesise their understanding through an environmental health assessment and intervention plan. Assessment for this unit will conclude with a brief practice reflection task, enabling students to analyse how the knowledge gained in this unit will influence their future public health practice. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Hurdle requirement:

 Completion of all required online activities

 Requires students to demonstrate required knowledge, understanding, and application of unit content


LO1, LO3, LO4

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8 

Assessment 1: 

Critically examine determinants of health related to conditions/diseases in at-risk groups (written task)


LO1, LO2, LO3 

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8 

Assessment 2: 

Responsibility for health (written task)

Demonstrate critical understanding of the evidence and key debates on determinants of a specific health issue


LO2, LO4, LO5 

GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8 

Assessment 3:  

Environmental health risk assessment  (written task)

Apply skills  through conducting an environmental health assessment and developing an intervention plan


LO1, LO4 

GA2, GA3, GA5, GA8 

Representative texts and references

Baum F. (2015). The New Public Health. 4th Ed. South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press.  

Keleher, H. & MacDougall, C. (Eds) (2015). Understanding Health: a determinants approach. 4th Edition. Melbourne: Oxford University Press. 

Commission on the Social Determinants of Health. (2008). Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health. Final Report of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health. Geneva: World Health Organization.  

Frumkin, H (2010).  Environmental Health: From Global to Local (2nd ed): Wiley 

Giles-Corti, B., Vernez-Moudon, A., Reis, R., Turrell, G., Dannenberg, A.L., Badland, H., Foster, S., Lowe, M., Sallis, J.F., Stevenson, M. and Owen, N., 2016. City planning and population health: a global challenge. The Lancet, 388(10062), pp.2912-2924. 

Moodie, R., Stuckler, D., Monteiro, C., Sheron, N., Neal, B., Thamarangsi, T., ... & Lancet NCD Action Group. (2013). Profits and pandemics: prevention of harmful effects of tobacco, alcohol, and ultra-processed food and drink industries. The Lancet, 381(9867), 670-679. 

Marmot, M., Allen, J., Bell, R., Bloomer, E., & Goldblatt, P. (2012). WHO European review of social determinants of health and the health divide. The Lancet, 380(9846), 15-21. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61228-8 

Watts, N., Adger, W. N., Agnolucci, P., Blackstock, J., Byass, P., Cai, W., ... & Cox, P. M. (2015). Health and climate change: policy responses to protect public health. The Lancet, 386(10006), 1861-1914. 

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