Womb to Tomb: Life Course Public Health

Subject POPH90248 (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:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 25-Jul-2016 to 23-Oct-2016
Assessment Period End 18-Nov-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 05-Aug-2016
Census Date 31-Aug-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 23-Sep-2016

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 24 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: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/disability


Assoc Prof Bec Bentley, Prof Janet Mccalman



Melbourne School of Population and Global Health


Currently enrolled students:

Future Students:

Subject Overview:

Your life expectancy depends more on where you live and how you live your life than on your own decisions. If you ‘choose’ your parents unwisely and are born into a very poor, or very unequal, or very unjust society, you will not live as long as if you had ‘chosen’ more astutely.

‘From Womb to Tomb’ follows the human life course as a public and population health issue. It explores each stage of the life course from conception, foetal life, birth, infancy, childhood and adolescence through the key stages of adult life to old age and death from a range of disciplinary perspectives: biology, development, demography, population health, epidemiology, public health and policy. Each life stage has its unique characteristics and is intimately affected by the outside world—by its physical and social environment and by its experiences at previous life stages. Institutions, politics and historical change mediate those experiences. Life course epidemiology links those stages into chains of effects.

The subject will be framed around six life course public health case studies that will be set within the broad literature of the demography, social epidemiology and public health of that life stage. The case studies will involve both local and global contexts and draw on specialists from across the Melbourne School of Population & Global Health to participate in the seminars.

Learning Outcomes:
  • The subject introduces students to the interdisciplinary life course approach to health, human development and ageing, with particular relevance to public health.
  • It will introduce students to demography of the life course, of cohorts and historical context
  • It will develop an understanding of the distinctive characteristics and public health issues of each stage of the human life course.
  • It will provide an overview of the significance of ‘critical periods’, accumulation and sequences of exposure in human development and of risks that are within the realm of public health.
  • It will train students in literature searching, problem-analysis and synthesis of relevant literature for specific problems via. case studies.
  • It will enable students to combine the life course perspective and methodology with public health policy and interventions.
  1. Fortnightly private reflective blog (6 x 500 words) Every fortnight at conclusion of topic, and submitted no later than the following Monday. Late blogs will be penalised.(40%)
  2. Two class research papers during that report on the literature for a designated case study. These papers will inform the class discussion and model the literature searching and reporting required in the workplace. (1500 words each) For the relevant class i.e. on two occasions during the semester. These papers must be available online the night before the class. Late papers will not be accepted and will need to be made up on another topic. (60%)
Prescribed Texts: None
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • Students will obtain a basic knowledge of the literature of the life course approach to public health and specific life stage problems in both local and global contexts.
  • Students will improve their practical research skills for problem-focussed investigations, and to summarise, analyse and communicate the findings of the most current literature in the field.
  • Students will improve their reflective skills using the weekly blogs.
  • Students will emerge with enhanced knowledge of human life stages, of the life course methodology, of interdisciplinary work and of public health dimensions of life course health
Related Course(s): Master of Public Health
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Health Social Sciences

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