School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Environmental Health (PHCM9612)

image - Environmental Health


This course will take a broad look at current concepts in environmental health in Australia and overseas. Using the tools of toxicology, epidemiology and social science and case studies we will examine pollution in different media (air, water and soil etc), chemicals and pesticides, epidemics and food borne illness, the impact of climate change, the creation and interpretation of 'risk', environmental health risk assessment and health impact assessment, equity in environmental health, environmental politics and health and environmental sustainability and health. The course will be suitable for students who wish to gain a basic grounding in environmental health, with the option of more detailed investigation of specific concepts.

Credit points

This course is a 6 unit elective in the Master of Public Health Program.  It is also available as an elective in the Master of Health Management and the Master of International Public Health.

Mode of study

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

Course aim

The overall aim of this course is to stimulate a broad understanding of environmental health and the important contribution of public health knowledge and principles in addressing pressing environmental issues, including climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Course Outcomes

This course is designed to enable you to:

  • Explain the meaning and context of ‘environmental health’ in Australia and internationally
  • Describe the burden of disease associated with the environment and its unequal distribution within and between nations linked to socio-cultural and economic disadvantage
  • Identify and analyse important contemporary environmental health issues in Australia and internationally, especially in light of climate change
  • Locate, synthesise and re-communicate high quality information on complex environment and health issues to inform decisions and solutions
  • Become familiar with the tools of basic toxicology, epidemiology and risk and health impact assessment to environmental health issues
  • Debate options for the prevention and management of environmental health problems
  • Identify different stakeholders in environmental health and consider the impact of different perspectives on public health decision making on health, health equity and social justice
  • Research and analyse an environmental health issue of relevance to your background, work or community.
Teaching strategies

This course has multiple components within its learning facilitation process, varying in delivery mode for external and internal students.


Assessment Task 1 - Scenarios: Communicating evidence
Weighting: 25%
Length: 1200 words

Assessment Task 2 - Three most significant contributions to online (externals) or face-to-face (internals) discussions
Weighting: 15%
Length:  n/a

Assessment Task 3 - Environmental Health Report
Weighting: 60%
Length: 2500-3000

Readings and resources
Learning resources for this course consist of the following (available in Moodle):
  1. Course notes and readings (available in Moodle)
  2. Lectures slides (posted in Moodle)
  3. Lecture recordings (available in Moodle)
  4. Activities and study questions
Recommended textbooks

This year’s textbook is: Friis, RH. Essentials of Environmental Health, Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2019. You can purchase this book through the UNSW bookshop. It is also available as an eBook from UNSW Library.