School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Infection Prevention and Control in the Healthcare Setting (PHCM9787)

PHCM9787 course banner


Infection prevention and control is patient safety priority in our healthcare facilities. In the near future common treatable infections may become untreatable. It has been estimated that 1 in 10 hospitalised patients acquire a healthcare associated infection (HAIs) and of these around a third are thought to be preventable and the risk of death associated with these infections can be high. Healthcare associated infections contribute to the disability and stress of the patient, additional length of stay and cost and may be associated with death. Infection prevention and control in healthcare settings is a national priority endorsed by the World Health Organization, the Australian Government, Ministries of Health, the Australian Commission of Quality and Safety in Health Care and healthcare facility accreditation organisations.

Healthcare managers, clinicians, planners and policy makers will especially benefit from this course as it aims provide an overview of the complexity of the causes of HAI, drivers of the spread of HAI and the prevention and control programs for HAIs. The course is aligned with the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards 3 and will have guest speakers from a range of  nationally and internationally recognised experts.

Credit points

This course is an elective course of the Master of Health Management, Master of Public Health and Master of International Public Health programs. It is comprised of six units of credit towards the total required for the completion of these programs.

There are no pre-requisites for this course. However, it is an advantage if you have basic knowledge about the transmission routes of infectious diseases and an interest in infection prevention and control. Experience in healthcare settings or patient care-related field will be beneficial for this elective. This course complements the content of PHCM9781 Evidence Informed Decision Making, PHCM9782 Current Challenges in Infectious Diseases and PHCM9731 Outbreak Investigation.

Interested students, who are not enrolled in a Masters program offered by the School of Public Health and Community Medicine, will need to contact the course convenor, who will assess whether they have the appropriate background, before they can enrol in the course.

Mode of study

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

Course aim

This course aims to develop students’ capacity to understand the application of infection prevention and control principles, strategies and policies in a range of healthcare settings. Students, coming from a range of careers, such as healthcare managers, clinicians, planners, policy makers and related disciplines, will gain from this course an understanding of the requirement of an infection control program in a healthcare facility. They will learn about the epidemiology of healthcare associated infections, basic infection prevention and control practices, surveillance, antibiotic stewardship programs and an introduction to antibiotic resistance. They will learn about a hospital approach to outbreak detection and management, and other related policies and procedures to prevent infection transmission.

Course Outcomes

On completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a global understanding of the complexity of prevention and control of healthcare associated infections and related programs
  • Demonstrate their understanding of the changing epidemiology of healthcare associated infections, different risk factors for the different healthcare associated infections and modes of transmission for acquisition of different healthcare associated infections
  • Recognise and assess the efficacy of the multiple strategies for the prevention of the many different healthcare associated infections including surveillance, antibiotic stewardship, cleaning and disinfection, contact precautions, hand hygiene, etc
  • Recognise and evaluate the strategies used to identify and control hospital based outbreaks
  • Identify and consider the implications of different governmental regulations and legal requirements associated with the prevention and control of healthcare associated infections
Learning and teaching rationale

Core content is provided through lectures, including expert guest lectures. Weekly small group activities, which include the use of case studies and online student discussions, have been designed to engage students in the learning process to encourage active and self-directed learning and provide opportunities for students to debate key areas relevant to this course. Postgraduate teaching aims to support students in developing their capacity for inquiry and critical thinking. In this course, an active learning approach is encouraged through the use of interactive instruction, self-directed learning, collaborative problem solving and peer learning.

The approach to learning and teaching and the organisation of this course are designed to encourage the development of lifelong learning skills and intellectual flexibility that can be applied to the area of infection control and prevention. Whilst each week is a discrete learning experience, the lectures are mutually informing and interrelated.


Assessment Task 1 - Online multiple choice exam
Weighting: 40%
Length: 2-4 quiz questions each week associated with the previous week’s topic. Total of 22 questions by end of Week 10

Assessment Task 2 - Case study in infection control
Weighting: 60%
Length: 2500 words

Readings and resources
Learning resources for this course consist of the following:
  • Lectures slides
  • Lecture recordings
  • Supplementary resources such as journal papers, videos, podcasts

All of these resources are available via Moodle.

Recommended resources

The following e-books are available from the UNSW library: