Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


PUBH100 Foundations of Public Health OR PUBH102 Foundations of Health Promotion

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning

Unit rationale, description and aim

The analysis and management of emergencies and disasters is an important aspect of public health practice, both in the domestic and international environments. The enormous disruption to physical, personal and social systems has significant impacts on population health. This disruption needs to be managed effectively to deal with immediate health needs and prevent further negative health consequences. Students will be introduced to the major considerations required to manage the public health aspects of large scale emergency situations. A particular focus will be placed on access to shelter, water and sanitation, and adequate food and nutrition in developing country settings. The aim of this unit is to provide a comprehensive understanding of public health considerations in emergency situations and a framework for developing competent public health planning across a diverse range of emergency and natural disaster situations.

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 an understanding of ethical, political and regulatory considerations in emergency response (GA: 3, 4, 5, 6) 

LO2 - Apply the principles of emergency planning, response and preparedness in the context of health protection. (GA: 4, 5) 

LO3 - Advocate for strategies to enhance community preparedness for natural disasters. (GA: 2, 5, 6) 

LO4 - Plan and conduct community needs assessment relevant to emergencies (GA: 2,3) 

Graduate attributes

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


Topics will include: 

  • The role of humanitarian and other non-government agencies in assessing, managing and preventing international and domestic emergencies 
  • Ethical, political and legal frameworks for disease control and prevention in emergencies 
  • Public health issues related to compromised water and sanitation systems, and strategies for remediation 
  • Public health issues and consequences of forced migration 
  • Principles of working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that are respectful and support self-determination in the face of emergencies. 
  • Identification of food insecurity and malnutrition, and development of effective prevention and response strategies 
  • Information gathering, analysis, control and communication, and use of the media in emergencies and disasters 
  • Health emergency management and planning 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Teaching and learning strategies addressing basic concepts and frameworks will involve lectures, tutorials, and small group discussions. Specialised topics will rely on video links with experts in various settings related to domestic and international case studies. Since the management of public health in emergencies and disasters involves collaboration within multidisciplinary teams away from base, students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively within group activities. 


The design of this unit is based on the constructivism approach, which supports active learning that encourages students to engage in a range of learning activities to facilitate the construction of new knowledge. This unit used constructive alignment in the design process, meaning that learning activities and assessment tasks are designed to address the intended learning outcomes directly. First, students will be introduced to the underlying major issues characteristic of most emergency situations to enable the achievement of factual and conceptual knowledge. Then, students will develop skills by applying their knowledge through various activities during tutorials and online activities via LEO. To accommodate different learning styles, this unit will engage students in a variety of face-to-face, online and self-directed activities. These will include the exploration of case studies, readings, online and in-class discussions, and accessing video content 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The first assessment addresses the issue of media communication, which is an important consideration in emergency contexts. The assessment tests students’ ability to identify the appropriateness and effects of media activity in such contexts. 


The second assessment evaluates students’ ability to apply emergency management principles to the analysis of a previous public health emergency. 


The final assessment, a written paper, examines students' knowledge and application of emergency management principles and theories by designing an emergency management plan. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1: Written and oral media analysis 

To assess the ability to deconstruct media communications related to emergency contexts 


LO2, LO3, LO4 

GA2, GA4, GA5, GA6 

Assessment Task 2: Written case study  

To assess the ability to analyse a specific emergency intervention in relation to principles of emergency management 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4 

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6 

Assessment Task 3: Written paper

To assess the ability to evaluate and synthesise knowledge and application of principles and theories relevant to managing emergencies 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4 

GA4, GA5, GA6

Representative texts and references

Abdallah, S., Burnham, G. (2000). Public health guide for emergencies. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins/IFRC. 

Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience. (2019). Health and Disaster Management Handbook (online) 

Chan, Emily Ying Yang. (2017). Public health humanitarian responses to natural disasters Routledge.

Haddow, G. D., Bullock, J. A. & Coppola, D. P. (2011). Introduction to emergency management. (4th ed.). Burlington, MA: Elsevier. 

Kapucu, N. & Özerdem, A. (2013). Managing emergencies and crises. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning. 

Katz, R. (2013). Essentials of public health preparedness. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning 

Sellwood, C. and Wapling, A. (2016) Health emergency preparedness and response. Boston, MA: Oxfordshire, UK.  

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