School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Social Research Public Health Specialisation

MPH Social Research

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About this degree

Many of the causes of health, illness and wellbeing are only partly explained by biomedical factors and are minimally altered by biomedical interventions. Thus solutions to health problems often lie outside the health system – in social policy, urban design, community cohesion, personal relationships, and the penal system, to name but a few. To address the social causes of health problems we need to use the resources of the full range of social sciences.

This specialisation provides students with training in sociological conceptualisations of health and in approaches to health issues using both quantitative/epidemiological and qualitative/interpretive methods. It consists of core MPH courses, with a stream-defining course on sociological approaches to public health, a choice of quantitative and/or qualitative methodology courses, and a selection of recommended MPH electives with social emphasis, ranging from courses on specific groups or topics (Indigenous people, HIV, drugs and alcohol, mental health) to broader policy and philosophical issues (inequality, ethics, policy). The stream is taught by staff with a broad range of disciplinary backgrounds including sociology, psychology, political science, anthropology, ethnography, epidemiology, statistics, education, linguistics and philosophy. The name of the specialisation is reflected on the testamur and students graduate with a Master of Public Health in Social Research.

Who should do this stream?

This MPH degree focuses on the social aspects of health and social approaches to addressing public health problems. You may be a social science graduate seeking training in public health research skills, or a public health or healthcare practitioner wanting to develop your understanding of social influences on health and illness. If you are interested in carrying out research, the degree provides a clear pathway towards further academic research training (eg a PhD) or research in the workplace (government policy, program evaluation etc). Graduates from this stream develop the knowledge and skills to enter postgraduate research degrees that require expertise in either social epidemiology or qualitative research, or both.