School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Program Design & Evaluation (PHCM9108)

PHCM9108 Program Design & Evaluation


This course covers techniques and tools used in the design and evaluation of health programs and projects. Program planning, needs assessment, program logic and logic models and intervention design will be covered in project/program design with an emphasis on public health interventions. Approaches to program evaluation will be used to teach techniques for program monitoring and evaluation. This includes use of Log Frames for process and impact evaluation. Case studies from both developed and developing countries will be used as teaching material.

Credit points

This course is an elective course in the postgraduate programs in the School of Public Health and Community Medicine, comprising six units of credit towards the total required for completion of the study program.

Pre-requisites: There are no pre-requisites for this course. However, it is expected that you have completed studies in foundations in public health, epidemiology & statistics and health promotion/health behaviour, or are concurrently doing those subjects. Therefore, typically, this course will be most beneficial for those who have already undertaken the core courses in the MPH.

Mode of study

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

Course aim

The overall aim of this course is to provide the concepts and critical skills to design and implement a health program or project and develop an evaluation plan.

Course Outcomes
The outcomes for this course are to enable you to:
  • Define and describe the steps in planning and implementing a health program/project
  • Discuss the use of program logic in designing health interventions and evaluations
  • Explain the use of and demonstrate appropriate tools and techniques for planning public health programs
  • Select and use appropriate tools and techniques for project implementation
  • Describe and discuss the role and purposes of evaluation for health programs/projects
  • Determine appropriate evaluation questions and designs for conducting program evaluation
  • Critically appraise evaluations conducted of public health programs
  • Constructively contribute to planning the design, development and evaluation of a health program.
Learning and teaching rationale

Most students accepted for Masters level courses in this school have prior learning (at undergraduate and other levels) as well as exposure to work in organizational settings, preferably in the health sector.  There is some assumption of this prior knowledge; however the course tries to provide direction for further learning and readings, in areas that you have limited exposure. Some of you will have actual experience in program planning, implementation and evaluation. This course has been designed to take into account the wealth of experience that you bring with you and will enable you to place your prior learning in perspective of the broader disciplines of program planning and program evaluation by exposing you to the wider literature in the field.  It also uses case studies as an important focus for your learning.   Case studies are a well evidenced approach for postgraduate learning and provide opportunity to critically consider a range of issues and settings in the design and evaluation of health programs.

Active participation is the key to getting the best from postgraduate learning. The principle that the best method to learn is by “doing” is followed in this course. We therefore have designed the assessment of the course based on this principle. The course offers you a combination of learning experiences, integrating both individual and group work throughout the class time (or online) and your assessment tasks.


Assessment Task 1 - Analysis of health needs and underlying causes (This is a group assignment)
Weighting: 20%
Length: 1000-1200 words

Assessment Task 2 - Program design document (This is an individual assignment)
Weighting: 40%
Length: 2000-2500 words

Assessment Task 3 -
A document based on a specific topic on program evaluation following student’s contribution and engagement in a forum [individual assignment]

Weighting: 25%
Length: 1200-1400 words

Assessment Task 4 - Class participation
Weighting: 15%

Readings and resources

Learning resources for this course consist of the following:

  • Course notes and readings
  • Lecture recordings (available in Moodle)
  • Supplementary resources such as videos, podcasts (available in Moodle)
  • Each week’s learning material includes selected reading material.  This includes chapters from the prescribed and recommended texts. 
Recommended resources

Dwyer, J, Liang, Z., Thiessen, V and Martini, A (2013) Project Management in Health and Community Services, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2nd Edition.

Nutbeam, D and Bauman, A (2014) Evaluation in a nutshell: A practical guide to the evaluation of health promotion programs, McGraw Hill, Sydney. [A very concise pocket book]

Owen, J .M (2006) Evaluation forms and approaches in Program evaluation: forms and approaches, 3rd edition, Allen and Unwin, Sydney. [A must read book for program evaluation specialists]

Eagar, K., Garrett, P. and Lin, V (2001) Health Planning Australian Perspectives, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest. [One of the few texts on health planning, that covers Australian material]