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PUBH649 Preparation for Practice


PUBH651 Public Health Research Thesis A , PUBH652 Public Health Research Thesis B

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning

Unit rationale, description and aim

PUBH655 Practice Placement is the second of two units (PUBH649 Preparation for Practice and PUBH655 Practice Placement) where students apply and consolidate learning acquired in the Master of Public Health program to prepare them to practice as public health professionals. It is linked to the Australian Qualifications Framework and supported by educational theory on the importance of experiential learning for preparing students for professional practice. A major learning activity of PUBH655 Practice Placement is a project consisting of a practice-based public health activity or fieldwork that involves the integration of knowledge and skills across multiple public health areas, allowing students to directly apply learnings with the aim of improving and advancing population health.


Students will undertake PUBH655 Practice Placement at the completion of PUBH649 Preparation for Practice, where they will apply knowledge acquired in PUBH649 Preparation for Practice. In PUB655 Practice Placement, students are to demonstrate core public health competencies as appropriate, for example community engagement and ethical practice. Overall, the aim of PUBH649 Preparation for Practice and PUBH655 Practice Placement is to enable students to apply and integrate their public health skills and knowledge within a summative public health practice experience.

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.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Describe personal learning objectives for the practice-based projectGC1, GC2, GC3, GC9, GC11
LO2Describe public health problems and feasible ways to address them in a particular area of public health practiceGC1, GC2, GC3, GC4, GC6, GC7, GC9, GC11
LO3Apply specialised knowledge and skills in public health to a particular practice-based project, in alignment with appropriate professional standardsGC1, GC2, GC7, GC9, GC11, GC12
LO4Apply relevant ethical standards, community engagement principles and practice reflections throughout the public health activityGC1, GC2, GC3, GC6, GC9, GC11, GC12


Practice based experience.

 A broad range of public health projects, activities or fieldwork can be undertaken in PUBH655, subject to approval of the Lecturer in Charge. These include, but are not limited to, any of the following:

  • Project/activity: practice-based quality improvement; knowledge transfer; capacity building; program development, implementation, evaluation; policy analysis or advocacy activity; practice-focused research and reporting. Any project/activity undertaken must have a pre-defined, measurable output for a student to report on.
  • Fieldwork: students may undertake fieldwork within their area of public health interest. Students must demonstrate that their fieldwork contributes to the health of the relevant community and/or improves the health program, service or system they are working in.

As part of the learning and teaching strategy for the unit, students will undertake 100-120 hours of practice-/fieldwork-based activity, not including time spent organising their practice-based experiences or the preparation of assessment tasks for this unit. Where appropriate, students will incorporate an element of community engagement within their practice-based activity in order to demonstrate the relationship between public health practice and community engagement in enhancing the health, wellbeing and dignity of people and communities, especially those most marginalised and disadvantaged.

In general, project experiences will be undertaken by students on an individual basis. Group-based project experiences (e.g. international fieldwork opportunities) will be considered for PUBH655; however, the level of contribution from each group member will remain equivalent. In the event that an appropriate external placement is not available, an equivalent project will be offered.

Students are required to meet mandatory or other requirements as indicated by ACU or placement sites (e.g. vaccinations, Working with Children checks, CPR training, hand hygiene and others).

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

PUBH655 Practice Placement uses an active learning approach to support students to undertake supervised practice-based public health fieldwork/activity. Learning and teaching strategies are designed to allow students to meet the aims and learning outcomes of the unit and graduate attributes of the university, and to support students to apply the theoretical knowledge acquired in their course to their practical placement. Students are expected to take responsibility for their learning and to engage actively with unit content and learning activities. This is a work integrated learning unit offered in both multi-mode and online mode.

Students will attend support sessions either face-to-face on campus (multi-mode), or via an online platform (online mode). Online activities (e.g. discussion forums) via the ACU Learning Management System (LMS) also support this process.

Both multimode and online students will undertake a minimum of 100-120 hours project, which could be a practice-/fieldwork-based activity. This will involve linking theory and knowledge with practical scenarios in public health to prepare students for public health practice. Additional teaching and learning strategies used in this unit are university-based fieldwork discussions including briefing/debriefing sessions, oral presentations, and discussion of their experiences with colleagues. 

All PUBH655 projects and practice placements will be subject to approval by the Lecturer-In-Charge and supervised by an external placement supervisor or member of staff at the Australian Catholic University as appropriate.

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements. Assessment tasks will be the same for multimode and online mode.

Assessment tasks include student reflections on practice readiness (before their project/practice placement), as a continuation from PUBH649 Preparation for Practice. Assessment tasks will provide the opportunity for students to reflect on their competency levels prior to their placement project, to refine their knowledge, understanding and skills in public health in a practice environment, to develop confidence in the presentation of real life project work to their peers, and to enhance their writing skills and workplace readiness through the compilation of a report and portfolio.

Assessment 1 is a written task which will enable students to acquire knowledge informing the aims, activities and proposed outcomes of their project and their practice readiness including areas in which they require further preparation and training.

Assessment 2 is an oral presentation task (either face to face or via an online platform) that relates to their placement or alternate project which will enable students to assimilate specialised knowledge of community engagement, the value of partnership, cultural competency or ethical practice. Oral presentations are to be recorded to allow remote students the opportunity to develop knowledge from other students' work.

Assessment task 3 is a written task which will enable students to apply public health knowledge to public health practice, by showcasing activities and project outcomes through a written portfolio.

A hurdle requirement for this unit is the completion of any mandatory requirements by the first week of the semester that the unit is taken (In Place workplace compliance). This must be approved prior to commencement of the placement project. Students are not permitted to conduct an external placement where they do not have a verified compliance status as appropriate by the first week of the semester.

In order to pass this unit, students are required to obtain an aggregate mark of greater than or equal to 50%. The assessment tasks for this unit are designed for students to demonstrate their achievement of each learning outcome.

All assessments will be submitted electronically.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Hurdle requirement

In Place workplace compliance 


Assessment 1:

Written placement proposal and reflection.

This written task will enable students to acquire knowledge informing the aims, activities and proposed outcomes of their project and their practice readiness including areas in which they require further preparation and training.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

Assessment 2:

Oral Presentation.

 This oral task will enable students to assimilate specialised knowledge (community engagement, the value of partnership, cultural competency or ethical practice) in relation to their placement or alternate project.


LO2, LO3, LO4

Assessment 3:

Portfolio and report.

This written task will enable students to apply public health knowledge in public health practice, by showcasing activities and project outcomes.


LO2, LO3, LO4

Representative texts and references

Kawachi, I., Lang, I., & Ricciardi, W. (2020). Oxford handbook of public health practice (4th ed.). Oxford University Press.

Manley, K., Titchen, A., & Hardy, S. (2009). Work-based learning in the context of contemporary health care education and practice: A concept analysis, Practice Development in Health Care, 8(2), pp. 87–127.

Mann, K., Gordon, J., & MacLeod, A. (2009). Reflection and reflective practice in health professionals education: A systematic review, Advances in Health Science Education, 14, pp. 595–621.

Varkevisser, C. M., Pathmanathan, I., & Brownlee, A.T. (2003). Designing and conducting health systems research projects: Volume I: Proposal Development and Fieldwork. KIT Publishers.

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