MPH5308 - Developing health systems - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Postgraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.


Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Organisational Unit

Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine


Professor Just Stoelwinder

Not offered in 2017


This unit aims to develop skills to describe and analyse health systems and assess health sector reforms (or health system reforms) in both developed and developing countries, including Australia. The unit introduces participants to alternative conceptual frameworks for describing and analysing health systems, and focuses in particular on one - "the control knobs framework" - which describes the key levers of a health system and how these levers work to influence outcomes of interest such as equity, cost, financial risk protection and quality of care. The control knobs framework is used to describe and analyse health system outcomes in developed and developing countries (including Australia); diagnose existing policy reform challenges; shed light on ongoing health policy debates; and assess a recent case of reform in the health sector.


Upon successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

  1. Define a health system using the control knobs framework
  2. Describe the financing structure, payment systems, regulatory frameworks and the organizational structure in the health sectors of a number of developed and developing countries
  3. Explain how key policy levers - financing, regulation, organization of healthcare delivery and financing, payment mechanisms - are linked to each other and to health policy goals
  4. Carry out a diagnostic analysis of a health policy concern leading to proposals for reform/change in levers, using the control knobs framework
  5. Compare the reform agenda in a sample of developed and developing countries and contrast those with the Australian agenda using a control knobs framework
  6. Explain the role of evidence in undertaking successful health reform
  7. Reflect on the complexities and challenges involved in implementing reform.


  • Responses to 6 weekly forum discussion topics (40%) (hurdle)
  • Written essay (2,000 words) (30%)
  • Written essay (2,000 words) (30%)

Workload requirements

Off-campus: 20 hours per week for 6 weeks.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


Must be enrolled in one of the following course codes: 4528, 4529, M6007, M6021