Communication in Disease Emergencies

Subject VETS50004 (2011)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2011.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 5 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2011:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught online/distance.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

This subject is delivered on-line.

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: Approximately 10-14 hours per week over an 8-week period
Total Time Commitment: Approximately 112 hours per semester
Prerequisites: Entry into the Master of Veterinary Public Health (Emergency Animal Diseases)
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements: It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability will impact on their academic performance are encouraged to discuss this matter with the Subject Coordinator and the Disability Liaison Unit.


Prof Colin Wilks


Stephanie Morrison-Duff
Research and Graduate Studies Manager
Faculty of Veterinary Science
University of Melbourne
Victoria 3010
+61 (0)3 8344 0357
Subject Overview:

During emergency situations, effective public communications have been shown to be of crucial importance. Gaining public trust and co-operation during any emergency is a function of ensuring that the right messages are targeted at the appropriate times to the right audiences using the most appropriate media channels. Specifically, in animal disease emergencies, public co-operation is required to maximise good biosecurity and gain maximum compliance with disease management efforts.

This module will use lecture notes and study materials to educate students on the basics of communications planning, including determining communication objectives, identifying target audiences, messages and media. Practical sessions will expose them to media interview techniques and the drafting of media releases.

Objectives: On completion of this subject, students will have gained:
• a basic understanding of the process of drawing up a communication plan;
• experience in working with the media, including drafting of press releases and conducting media interviews; and
• an appreciation of the need to communicate effectively during an animal disease emergency.

Student progress is monitored through class exercises and case studies. Two assessment tests will be conducted (weeks 4 and 6). The final examination is a two-hour written and online exam held in weeks 9 and 10. You will be required to identify a University near you where you can be supervised when sitting the exam.

The assessment components are as follows:

  • Assessment tests (25%)
  • Assignments (10%)
  • Class Participation (5%)
  • Final Examination (60%)
Prescribed Texts: Students will use a reading list of scientific articles from the current literature, which will be provided on-line.
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills: On completion of this subject, students should have developed their:
• ability to identify communication needs; and
• ability to manage communications effectively.
Notes: Reliable internet access with at least a medium speed connection and a personal computer are essential for undertaking this online program. The content is accessed through your web browser. Microsoft Office™ and Adobe Acrobat Reader or equivalent software packages are necessary for assessment tasks, assignments and some class exercises.
Related Course(s): Master of Veterinary Public Health (Emergency Animal Diseases)

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