Law Enforcement and Public Health

Subject POPH90246 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

June, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 27-Jun-2016 to 01-Jul-2016
Assessment Period End 15-Aug-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 28-Jun-2016
Census Date 08-Jul-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 29-Jul-2016

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 30 hours
Total Time Commitment:

170 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

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 may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Dr Nicholas Thomson


Melbourne School of Population and Global Health


Currently enrolled students:

Future Students:

Subject Overview:

The Law Enforcement and Public Health (LE and PH) subject explores the multidimensional relationships between law enforcement (especially but not only policing) and public health across a range of complex social and public health issues. The subject is designed to highlight how law enforcement activities are often frontline aspects of public health imperatives, integral to their effectiveness; and how public health often acts in a law enforcement capacity. Through explorations of various complex social and public health issues, the subject then examines the character, nature and effectiveness of the relationships between the two sectors.

Issues to be explored include the roles of LE and PH various areas important to public health such as mental health, alcohol and drugs, disaster management, violence prevention (especially domestic violence) and infectious disease. The analysis explores collaborative opportunities and the principles of partnership between the two sectors, and the related implications for the governance and resourcing of these issues at local, national and international levels. Ultimately this subject highlights that through better understanding of sectoral roles, and through a commitment to partnership, the management of complex social and public health issues can be more effectively handled.

The delivery of the subject will include field visits as well as presentations from police, public health experts and police/public health partnership teams.

Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion of this subject students will be able to:

  • Articulate the importance of the partnerships between law enforcement and public health in relationship to global public health;
  • Analyse the public health role of police; the law enforcement role of public health; and their intersection through case analysis across public health issues such as alcohol and Illicit drugs, mental health, indigenous health, infectious disease, domestic violence, conflict and post conflict;
  • Comment on the nature and principles of successful partnership between the law enforcement and public health sectors;
  • Reference and apply the learnings from case studies of innovative and effective collaborative approaches to complex social/health problems.
  1. Group presentation task (20%) approximately five students per group, held on the final day of the course consisting of:
    • an oral presentation (15 minutes)
    • a brief gorup report (1000 words)
  2. 2 x 750 word critical response papers to readings due 10 days after the Course (30%)
  3. 3000-word essay on a topic relevant to law enforcement and public health due 6 weeks after the course (50%)

Prescribed Texts:

A full set of prescribed readings and resource materials will be provided prior to the commencement of the subject. A subject guide listing core and further readings will be produced and links to these will be uploaded to LMS. Readings and resource materials for the subject will include edited books, monographs, peer reviewed journal articles, grey literature (UN and NGO reports and studies), documentary films, podcasts and websites.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

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


Upon completion of the subject students will be able to:

  • Describe and appraise law enforcement systems, structures and policies in Australia and other countries, which impact public health, and be able to distinguish a population-based approach from individual based approaches;
  • Identify and discuss current public health challenges in global and/or Indigenous Australian and non-Indigenous Australian communities from the perspective of law enforcement;
  • Discuss and reflect on how effective decision making occurs across law enforcement organisations in terms of public health outcomes.


Upon completion of the subject students will be able to:

  • Reflect on personal attitudes and beliefs, as well as on working collaboratively and inter-culturally, in order to consider how these impact on decision-making in public health practice;
  • Describe how the concepts of human rights and ethics apply to law enforcement and public health practice;
  • Explain and/or plan strategies to prevent disease and injury and to protect and improve health (i.e. health promotion, legislation, policy, and community development), considering law enforcement as front-line stakeholders.

Application of knowledge and skills

Upon completion of the subject students will be able to:

Apply a comprehensive knowledge of a public health and law enforcement to develop solutions to complex public health problems.

Related Course(s): Master of Public Health

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