School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Health Impact Assessment (PHCM9628)

image - Health Impact Assessment


Health impact assessment is a structured process by which the impacts of policies, programs or projects on health can be assessed. This course will cover the process of health impact assessment, its theoretical background, history and applications. Students will have an opportunity to gain practical experience by undertaking steps of health impact assessment. This course is suitable for students who wish to gain a basic grounding in health impact assessment, with opportunities for more detailed investigation of specific concepts.

Credit points

This course is an elective course of the Master of Public Health and Master of Health Management programs, comprising 6 units of credit towards the total required for completion of the study program. There are no pre-requisites for this course.

Mode of study

This course is offered in two modes: 1) either face-to-face classes on-campus for Internal students, and 2) fully online for Distance External students.

Course aim

The overall aim of this course is to provide a basic understanding of health impact assessment (HIA) and for students to experience aspects of health impact assessment practice.

Course Outcomes

Using HIA terms and concepts, you should be able to:

  • Explain HIA’s process and possible applications.
  • Describe HIA’s roles in improving health and health equity in populations.
  • Critically evaluate completed HIAs and HIA concepts and principles.
  • Reflect on how HIA relates to your knowledge and experience of public health practice.
  • Apply knowledge gained in the course to undertake the screening and scoping steps of an HIA.
  • Distinguish situations where HIA could/should be used and where it should not.
Learning and teaching rationale

This course has been designed with HIA practice in mind.  As such the learning activities that have been developed link to, and reflect on, HIA practice. The structure of the course reflects this involving using a case study as the basis for students to experience and explore the HIA process. The assignments also allow for students to use the knowledge gained in the course and apply that to an area of professional or personal interest.

Teaching strategies

The course comprises either the 2 day on-campus workshop or external online participation, and two assignments that involve additional independent study of the course notes and further reading. The workshop comprises of a mix of lectures, group work, and group discussions. Students will be expected to attend every day and actively engage and contribute. Students unable to attend all days of the workshop, including missing partial days, should consider taking the course in external mode instead. Students missing any of the workshop will need to make prior arrangements with the course convenor and may be required to complete an additional assignment.


Assessment Task 1 - HIA related essay
Weighting: 40%

Assessment Task 2 - HIA report and reflective component
Weighting: 50%

Assessment Task 3 - Participation in workshop activities (internal mode) or online activities (external mode)
Weighting: 10%

Readings and resources

Learning resources for this course consist of the following:

  • Web-based lectures (available on UNSW Moodle)
  • Course notes with readings included in each section
  • Links to HIA online resources via UNSW Moodle