School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Infection Prevention and Control in the Healthcare Setting (PHCM9787)

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Antimicrobial resistance is an urgent global health priority. In the near future common treatable infections may become untreatable. Currently 1 out of 20 hospitalised patients’ contracts a healthcare associated infection, of which around 50% are preventable. These infections add to the functional disability and emotional stress of the patient and in some cases, lead to disabling conditions that reduce their quality of life. In addition, they contribute to increased hospital stays and added expense to the healthcare system. Infection prevention and control in healthcare settings is now of national priority endorsed by the Australian Government, Ministries of Health, the Australian Commission of Quality and Safety in Health Care, healthcare facility accreditation organisations, as well as internationally by the World Health Organization..

Healthcare managers, clinicians, planners, policy makers and related disciplines will benefit from this course as it aims provide an overview of the knowledge and skills associated with infection prevention and control, surveillance and infectious disease epidemiology. National and international trends in infection prevention and control will be addressed. The course draws on recognised experts with a breath of experience, is aligned with the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards 3 and has an emphasis on practical learning experiences using real case scenarios.

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 appraise and apply infection prevention and control principles, strategies and policies in a range of healthcare settings. It will provide students with the skills to critically evaluate research data to support the planning and implementation of management strategies in a range of resource settings. Students will gain an understanding of the range of healthcare associated infections and their causative agents, the different infection control strategies available and how to manage and coordination infection control programs.

Course Outcomes

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

  • Describe the epidemiology of healthcare associated infections, risk factors and mode of transmission
  • Discuss strategies for the surveillance of infections
  • Recognise and apply the appropriate infection prevention and control principles, strategies and policies in a range of health care settings
  • Understand the impact of antibiotic resistance, the mechanisms for pathogens to acquire resistance and describe the national activities associated with the antimicrobial stewardship program
  • Identify the different governmental regulations and legal requirements associated with the prevention and control of healthcare associated infections
  • Discuss the role of antimicrobial stewardship in infection control and explain factors impacting on the program
Learning and teaching rationale

In designing this course, we have drawn on the educational literature, including UNSW’s Guidelines on Learning that Inform Teaching.

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.

Teaching strategies

PHCM9787 Infection Prevention and Control in the Healthcare Setting is available in both internal and external study mode. It consists of weekly lectures and small group discussions throughout the semester. Students are strongly encouraged to come to class having read the pre-readings and listened to the available pre-recorded lectures . Audio recordings of the lectures and the accompanying slides will be available weekly via Moodle. Each week, expert-led lectures provide core content material, which are followed by case studies or active discussion providing opportunities for students to explore the course content. Weekly in-class (internal) and online (external) activities and the online assessment activities (all students) in this course require students to actively engage and practice the skills expected of SPHCM postgraduate students. Engagement with peers provides an interactive learning platform in which students can exchange ideas in a facilitator-supported environment.


Assessment Task 1 - Online multiple choice exam
Weighting: 40%
Length: N/A

Assessment Task 2 - Case study in infection control
Weighting: 60%
Length: 1500 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: