Current Debates in Population Health

Subject POPH90211 (2013)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2013.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2013.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 24 hours (6x4 hour symposia)
Total Time Commitment:

120 hours





Recommended Background Knowledge:


Non Allowed Subjects:


Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.
The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website.


McCaughey Centre: VicHealth Centre for the Promotion of Mental Health and Community Wellbeing
Melbourne School of Population Health


Academic Programs Office
Melbourne School of Population Health
Tel: +61 3 8344 9339
Fax: +61 3 8344 0824

Subject Overview:

Population Health invariably addresses complex social settings and overlapping circumstances. Despite aspirations for population health to be informed by evidence-based policy and practice, decisions about which kinds of evidence and practice will best achieve population health goals and objectives continues to involve contested claims and approaches.

In this subject we will focus on six contemporary population health issues as prisms for exploring contested approaches to population health. Students will be encouraged to consider a range of theoretical, methodological, practical and ethical frameworks to unpack and explore these key debates. Through seminars and discussions students will examine explicit and implicit theoretical assumptions and frameworks informing current debates and the particular (and frequently contested) agendas and perspectives of key stakeholders, including policy makers, commercial interests, researchers, lay communities, health providers and health promotion practitioners.

The subject involves six four-hour sessions with each session centring on a current population health issue. Sessions will involve a seminar, facilitated discussion, expert speakers and student presentations. They will explore population health issues as sites of tension and negotiation, ambivalence and uncertainty, politics and power struggles. Current population health debates will consider emerging issues at the frontiers of technological innovation and longstanding issues that are being reformulated amidst transforming social, economic and spatial conditions. Examples of current debates in population health include the value and limitations of vertical (disease-specific) versus horizontal (health systems strengthening) approaches in population health; addressing alcohol-related harm amidst shifting drinking cultures and the expansion of the night-time economy in many post-industrial cities; the challenges of promoting liveable and healthy environments on the peri-urban fringes of Australian cities or the growing urban slums in many of the world’s cities; or the social and ethical issues that are raised in expanding markets for genetic technologies.


At the completion of this subject, students should be able to demonstrate the ability to:

  • Articulate key approaches for exploring current debates in population health
  • Critically analyse key standpoints within contemporary debates about population health
  • Formulate and justify strategic interventions in key areas of health on the basis of particular ethical and theoretical standpoints.
  • One oral presentation of 20 minutes (equivalent of 1000 words) (20%); related written piece of 1000 words (20%), due mid-semester
  • One 3,000 word essay (60%) due at the end of the semester.
Prescribed Texts:

Students will have access to electronic copies of relevant readings.

Recommended Texts:


Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Upon completion of this subject a student should have:

  • Advanced skills in verbally communicating key concepts about critical debates succinctly.
  • Advanced skills in applying cross-disciplinary analysis to critical debates
  • Advanced skills in reading critically within and across a range of population health disciplines
  • Advanced skills in critical analysis of academic and popular discourses in population health.
Related Course(s): Master of Health Social Sciences
Master of Public Health
Postgraduate Diploma in Health Social Sciences
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Health Social Sciences
Public Health

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