School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Health Promotion & Social Perspectives of Health (PHCM9012)

PHCM9012 course


This course provides an overview of social aspects of health and foundations in health promotion. The course will enable students to examine contemporary social and cultural perspectives on health, healthcare and on people’s everyday lived experience of health & illness, and explore the role of health promotion in addressing a range of contemporary public health problems. Current global health issues and their relevance to health promotion and the field of public health are examined through analysis and application of best practice principles including assessment for effectiveness. The course moves students beyond the traditional silo approaches to health promotion that address risk factors and disease models. It focuses on social determinants and a multi-sectoral approach to promoting health through research, practice, policy and advocacy.

Credit points

This course is a core course of the Master of Public Health (MPH) and Master of International Public Health (MIPH) programs, comprising 6 units of credit towards the total required for completion of the study program.

Mode of study

External (Distance) and Internal (Face-to-Face) classes on campus.

Course aim

The aims of this course are to enable students to gain an understanding of different social and cultural perspectives on the meaning of health, develop core knowledge of health promotion including its foundation theories, principles and concepts, and critically evaluate a range of health promotion strategies seeking to address a number of contemporary public health problems.

Course Outcomes
On successful completion of this course you will be able to:
  • Examine contemporary social perspectives on health and their implicit or explicit use in public health and health promotion;
  • Distinguish between and critically evaluate individualistic and social assumptions employed in public health research and practice;
  • Critically appraise the scope for health promotion action in regards to the determinants of health;
  • Appreciate the Ottawa Charter as an organising framework for health promotion action;
  • Examine current global issues and their relevance across the span of the health promotion profession;
  • Identify and critically review the conceptual underpinnings and main characteristics of some common health promotion strategies, and determine the advantages and disadvantages of each; and
  • Analyse the main issues involved in planning, implementation and evaluation of health promotion and determine best practice.
Learning and teaching rationale

Health promotion is a vast and diverse field of practice. The same is true of social research into health. Both involve analysis and assessment of individual and group behaviour as well as social and cultural practices. Health promotion practice may range from teaching, to program design, to research, policy and application of theory in practice. The scale can be individual, local, regional or span national divides. The course notes and included readings are extensive, as we aim to provide you with a variety of experiences from which to learn. The richness of these fields is largely inspired by those within them and your course work will be equally enriched through active participation.



Assessment Task 1 - Analysis of a health promotion strategy: written assignment
Length: 2000 words
Weighting: 50%

Assessment Task 2 - Tutorial Participation
Weighting: 15%

Assessment Task 3 - Critical Summary
Length: 1000 words
Weighting: 35%


Assessment Task 1 - Conference Presentation, Analysis of a health promotion strategy
Part A: Group Presentation
Weighting: 30%

Part B: Tutor Assessment of Individual Reflection on Individual Contribution
Weighting: 10%

Part C: Peer Assessment of Individual Contribution to Conference Presentation
Weighting: 10%

Assessment Task 2 - Tutorial Participation
Weighting: 15%

Assessment Task 3 - Critical Summary
Length: 1000 words
Weighting: 35%

Readings and resources
Learning resources for this course consist of the following:
  • Course notes and readings (the readings are accessible electronically via Moodle, and you can purchase hard copies at the UNSW bookshop)
  • Lectures slides (posted in Moodle)
  • Lecture recordings (available in Moodle)
  • Supplementary resources such as videos, podcasts (available in Moodle)
Recommended resources

There is no compulsory text for this course outside of the readings indicated in the course notes. However, additional recommended learning resources for this course include the following recommended readings:

  • Nutbeam, D., Harris, E., & Wise, M.(2010). Theory in a Nutshell. (3rd ed.) Sydney: McGraw Hill.
  • Ledwith M, Springett J. Participatory practice: community-based action for transformative change. Bristol, UK: The Policy Press; 2010
  • Ilona Kickbusch, Policy Innovation for Health, 2009, Springer-Verlag New York, DOI : 10.1007/978-0-387-79876-9,
  • Kelleher, H., McaDougall, C., Murphy, B. (2007). Understanding health promotion. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
  • D. McQueen and C. Jones (Eds.) (2007). Global Perspectives on Health Promotion Effectiveness, New York: Springer Science + Business Media LLC.
  • D. McQueen and I. Kickbusch (Eds.) (2010). Health & Modernity. The Role of Theory in Health Promotion, New York: Springer Science + Business Media LLC.
  • Baum, F. (2002). The New Public Health. (2nd ed.). Melbourne: Oxford University Press.