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

Public health is often defined as the "organised efforts" of society to protect and promote population health, and a critical element of these organised efforts is policy development including legislative reform. Students will be introduced to foundational concepts in law and policy, and how these constructs influence health. Key policy frameworks relating to health promotion and protection will then be considered Students will also consider the role of policy in improving population health. Emphasis will be placed on policy development, implementation, impact, analysis and reform, with special reference to the role of politics, stakeholder interests, evidence and economics in policy-making. Where appropriate this will include examples of skills, knowledge required for culturally appropriate, respectful and social justice informed public health policy responses to support indigenous communities. The unit will conclude with students examining the policy-making process from an advocacy perspective, where students will explore how public health practitioners can participate and influence this process to produce improve policy (and thus population health) outcomes. The aim of this unit for students to examine the various policy frameworks designed to promote and protect health.

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 examples of law and policy that promote or protect public health (GA5) 

LO2 - Demonstrate an understanding of policy making processes, in terms of public health goals (GA6) 

LO3 - Critically apply current policy frameworks to particular public health challenges (GA4,8) 

LO4 - Apply the understanding of policy making processes to contemporary public health issues (GA4,8) 

Graduate attributes

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 


Topics covered in this unit include: 

  • Introduction to the Australian legal system and fundamental legal principles 
  • Relationship between law and health: health rights, common examples (e.g. medical negligence) 
  • Common legislative objectives and powers used in public health 
  • Public health legislative schemes: public health protection, laws relating to health conditions, substances, systems/services, practitioners, complaints and to privacy and confidentiality 
  • Other legislative schemes relating to public health: consumer law, Coroners Court, family violence 
  • Public health policy: definition and scope 
  • Policy development: policy-making process, models of policy development 
  • Interests and influences on policy: politics, stakeholders and advocacy groups, economics, evidence 
  • Policy implementation, monitoring, analysis and evaluation 
  • Advocacy and public health law and policy: methods, key considerations with law-/policy-making process, case studies 

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 weekly lectures and tutorials during the semester, using student-centred teaching and active learning approach to support students in the exploration of health law and policy principles and application. The unit uses lectures to teach essential theory and concepts, with learning reinforced through facilitated tutorial activities that support students to synthesise knowledge and develop a deep understanding of policy making processes, and the interpretation and application of public health law. Online content (e.g. readings, videos and lecture recordings) via ACU’s Learning Environment Online (LEO) also supports this acquisition.

Assessment strategy and rationale

This unit is designed based on a 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, ensuring learning activities and assessment tasks are designed to address the intended learning outcomes directly.

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 50%. Assessment in this unit will comprise three assignments. The first assessment task will require students to describe examples of law and policy that promote health. The second assessment task requires students to use their analytical skills to demonstrate their understanding of public health law and policy making processes. Learning is consolidated by a final assessment task which requires students to apply policy and/or law processes to selected public health issues.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment 1: Short Written Task (800 words)

Purpose: will enable students to describe examples of law or policy that protect and promote public health




Assessment 2: Written Paper (1200 words)

Purpose: enable students to show their understanding of policy making processes in relation to Public Health.




Assessment 3: Major Essay (2000 words)

Purpose: Critically apply policy processes to a particular public health intervention.


LO3, LO4 

GA4, GA8 


Representative texts and references

Baggott, R. (2011). Public health: policy and politics. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

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

McClelland, A. and Smyth P. (2014). Social policy in Australia: understanding for action. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

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