PHH1081 - Foundations of public health - 2018

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - 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

South Africa School of Health Sciences

Chief examiner(s)

Dr. Samson Muyanga


Mrs Nwamaka Nwogwugwu

Unit guides


South Africa

  • First semester 2018 (On-campus)




This unit provides foundation knowledge in public health that begins with its historical underpinnings and leads to examination of the principles, practices and values of contemporary public health. Examples will be used to illustrate the importance of inter-sectoral and interdisciplinary systems thinking for the success of public health programs and policy. You will learn to critically analyse the determinants and burdens of disparate rates of illness and disease from the perspectives of health inequalities and vulnerable populations to understand public health priorities, and the core roles and functions of public health systems and programs. The learnings from this unit can be applied to public health issues and systems in any country.


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

  1. Discuss the principles underpinning public health and examine public health values from different paradigms;
  2. Describe the history and evolution of public health and discuss how they have impacted on the health of the populations;
  3. Discuss a range of behavioural, social and cultural, environmental and political determinants that create health and cause ill-health and inequalities;
  4. Identify a range of public health interventions and appraise their strengths and limitations;
  5. Discuss the critical relationship between human rights and public health, and identify the critical ethical considerations for public health practice;
  6. Examine the inter-sectoral and interdisciplinary systems that comprise good public health and implications for the workforce.


  • Quizzes x 2 (in-class) (10 minutes reading time and 20 minutes completion time per quiz) (20%)
  • Group presentation (oral) (15 minutes) (15%)
  • Essay (1,500 words) (25%)
  • Examination (2 hours) (40%)

Hurdle: 80% attendance at tutorials. Completion of all assessment tasks.

Workload requirements

Lecture 2 hours and Tutorial 2 hours per week PLUS 8 hours of private study hours per week.

See also Unit timetable information

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