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

Effective public health practice requires a broad range of skills in translating complex health concepts into messages that can be communicated to specific target groups within communities and populations. This unit equips students with advanced communication skills required to achieve this. Students will gain an in-depth understanding of effective interpersonal; group and public communication; effective written and oral communication; and media strategies, and successful communication with cultural and minority groups. Mobilising individuals and communities towards better health by using appropriate media, community resources and social marketing techniques will be covered. Skills and knowledge required for culturally appropriate, respectful and social justice informed communication to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will be included as appropriate. The aim of the unit is to support students to increase their capacity and skills to convey and evaluate public health information, such as risk/disaster communication, health improvement, denormalising hazardous health behaviours, advocacy to address upstream determinants of health, changes in health literacy and public understanding of public health hazards.

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 - Appraise strengths and weaknesses of communications in public health from diverse sources including government, non-government organisations and commercial businesses according to target group, accuracy, impact and acceptability. (GA5)

LO2 - Engage recipients of public health messages effectively with new communication tools and techniques. (GA10) 

LO3 - Work collaboratively in contexts of cross-cultural communication including indigenous health messages. (GA7) 

LO4 - Communicate effectively in diverse circumstances for public health practice. (GA9, GA10) 

Graduate attributes

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

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

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: 


  • Introduction to communication in public health 
  • Understanding and reporting scientific evidence 
  • Public health communication 
  • Public health Informatics 
  • Public health communication planning 
  • Communicating with persuasion 
  • Communicating to the public
  •  Communication strategies to address structural determinants of health
  • Public health communication with cultural populations 
  • Communicating according to local cultural protocols with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities 
  • Communication methods in public health 
  • Communicating for policy and advocacy 
  • Evaluation of public health communication programs 
  • Risk and emergency communication 
  • Media and mass media public health communication 
  • Ethics in public health communication 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit involves Cooperative Learning and Inquiry based learning. Cooperative Learning involves structuring classes around small groups that work together in such a way that each group member's success is dependent on the group's success. Inquiry based learning on the other hand actively involves students in the exploration of the content, issues, and questions surrounding a curricular area or concept. These two learning strategies will be reinforced through lecture and tutorial activities that support students to synthesise knowledge and develop a deeper understanding of communication in public health. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessments in this unit are designed for students to develop theoretical and practical knowledge and skills for public health communication in different contexts. In order to achieve the learning outcomes and Graduate Attributes, students are expected to demonstrate knowledge on planning a public health communication intervention and obtaining support for a specific public health issue. For this first assessment task, students will work in pairs to develop a public health communication plan to address a public health issue of their choice. For the second assessment task, students will continue to work with their pair to develop a multimedia presentation about the chosen public health issue, based on a particular scenario. The end-of-semester exam will test students’ applied and theoretical knowledge on effective communication and interpersonal skills 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assignment 1: 

Public Health Communication Plan (A) 

Enable and assess students on their ability to apply a strategic approach to communicating a public health issue. 


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA5, GA7 

Assignment 2: 

Advocacy and Persuasion (B) 

Enable and assess students to develop compelling communication towards enhancing public health


LO1, LO2, LO4

GA5, GA9, GA10 

End of semester examination 

Enable and assess students to articulate knowledge and application of communication principles to public health practice. 


LO1, LO3,LO4 


Representative texts and references

Baum (2016) The new public health. Melbourne, Australia, Oxford University Press.

DeVito J.A. (2017). Essentials of Human Communication (9th ed). Pearson Education: Boston. 


Parvanta, C., Nelson, D.E., Parvanta, S.A., Harner, R.N. (2011). Essentials of Public Health Communication. Jones & Bartlett Learning LIC. 


Schiavo, R. (2013). Health Communication: From Theory to Practice (2nd ed). Jossey-Bass: San Francisco.[RP1]  

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