Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

Health is determined by many factors. Public health professionals must have a detailed understanding of these factors to improve population and individual health and wellbeing. Students will learn to critique the evidence on health determinants and the implications for creating a society conducive to health. Complex public health/social issues involving multiple health determinants will be explored. The unit will help students 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 a critical understanding of the determinants of health, inequalities in their distribution within the population, and the ability to discuss approaches to addressing these inequalities critically

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: 

Topics related to Determinants of Health will include:


  • Types of health determinants
  • Historical aspects
  • Correlational and causal pathways

 Categories of influence

  • Biological (e.g., age) and psychological (e.g., loneliness)
  • Behavioural (e.g., diet, physical activity, substance use)
  • Socio-economic (e.g., living and working conditions)
  • Environmental (e.g., cultural, physical)

Considerations in creating a healthy society

  • Ethical, scientific, and political considerations (e.g., individual responsibility vs structural influence)
  •  Interactions between determinants and levels of influence (including in relation to potential at-risk groups, e.g., Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples)
  • Approaches to developing evidence-based intervention
  • Assessment, management, and control of environmental-related health issue/s

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 lectures and tutorials during the semester, using student-centred teaching and an 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 reinforced through facilitated tutorial activities involving reading, writing, discussion, and problem-solving, which support students synthesising and applying knowledge and developing a thorough 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 an 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 or equal to 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 to identify health determinants 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 an assessment task to demonstrate their understanding of determinants related to a specific disease in a selected population group. They will then progress to Assessment Task 2, where they will extend and apply their knowledge of health determinants in discussing pertinent evidence (e.g. key debates) on determinants of a specific health issue. Finally, students will further extend but also synthesise their understanding of evidence through an environmental health assessment and intervention plan.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment 1: 

Critically examine determinants of health related to conditions/diseases in at-risk groups


LO1, LO2,

GA2,, GA4, GA5, GA8 

Assessment 2: 

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


LO1, LO2,LO3

GA1,GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8 

Assessment 3:  

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


LO2, LO4.LO5

GA2, GA3, GA5, GA6, GA8 

Representative texts and references

Arcaya, M. C., Arcaya, A. L., & Subramanian, S. V. (2015). Inequalities in health: definitions, concepts, and theories. Global Health Action, 8(1), 27106.

Baum, F. (2016). The New Public Health. Oxford University Press. 

Keleher, H., & MacDougall, C. (2016). Understanding Health. 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. World Health Organization. 

Giles-Corti, B., Vernez-Moudon, A., Reis, R., Turrell, G., Dannenberg, A. L., Badland, H., Foster, S., Lowe, M., Sallis, J. F., Stevenson, M., & Owen, N. (2016). City planning and population health: a global challenge. The Lancet388(10062), 2912-2924.

Marmot, M. (2017). Closing the health gap. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 45(7), 723-731.

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 Lancet381(9867), 670-679.

Nieuwenhuijsen, M. J. (2020). Urban and transport planning pathways to carbon neutral, liveable and healthy cities; A review of the current evidence. Environment International140, 105661.

Watts, N., Amann, M., Ayeb-Karlsson, S., Belesova, K., Bouley, T., Boykoff, M., ... & Costello, A. (2018). The Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: from 25 years of inaction to a global transformation for public health. The Lancet391(10120), 581-630.

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