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Structuring and Solving Public Health Problems

Module titleStructuring and Solving Public Health Problems
Module codeHPDM118Z
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Professor G.J. Melendez-Torres (Lecturer)

Dr Michelle Tester-Jones (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This intensive module will introduce you to the key frameworks and tools leaders use to understand and develop solutions to public health problems. Blending classic public health tools such as ecological and life-course perspectives with modern complex systems thinking and learning from management and strategy, this module will include both didactic components and ‘laboratory’ sessions in which you will develop a conceptual framework for action on a specific public health problem. Assessment will be by essay and diagram, in which you will write up a conceptual framework using relevant tools learned in the module. Key examples informing this module will include climate change and climate resilience, infectious diseases requiring global responses, and health inequalities.

This module is delivered by distance learning via our online platform. Teaching will draw on a range of high-quality recorded lectures, interspersed with consolidation sessions, workshops and group work. Synchronous sessions will be held via Teams or Zoom.

A blended version of this module is also offered (HPDM118)

Module aims - intentions of the module

In this module you will understand the history and philosophy of public health as well as its core values, concepts, functions, and leadership roles

You will understand the legal, ethical, economic, commissioning and regulatory dimensions of health care and public health policy, and approaches to developing, evaluating, and advocating for public health policies

You will be introduced to the cultural context of public health issues and respectful engagement with people of different cultures and socioeconomic strata

You will develop skills in systems thinking regarding the dynamic interactions among sectors, organisations, and actors with which public health professionals interact to achieve health improvements

You will be introduced to biological, environmental, socio-economic, behavioural, cultural, and other factors that impact human health, influence the global and societal burden of disease, and contribute to health disparities and health inequalities

You will be introduced to tools for ensuring the consistency of policy integration into organizational plans, procedures, structures, and programs

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Discuss the means by which structural bias, social inequities and racism undermine health and create challenges to achieving health equity at organizational, community and societal levels
  • 2. Analyse multiple dimensions of the policy-making process, including the roles of ethics and evidence and how production of evidence relates to stakeholder interests

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. Apply systems thinking tools to a public health issue
  • 4. Compare the organisation, structure and function of health care, public health and regulatory systems across national and international settings

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Apply awareness of cultural values and practices to the design or implementation of public health policies or programs
  • 6. Perform effectively on interprofessional teams
  • 7. Apply negotiation and mediation skills to address organizational or community challenges

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, an example of an overall structure is as follows:

• History of public health, and modern challenges
• Problem solving frameworks in public health: how do we understand a problem? Ecological systems and the lifecourse perspective
• Problem solving frameworks in public health: how do we understand a problem? Introduction to complexity theory and systems thinking
• Developing and describing conceptual frameworks
• Social determinants of health
• Cultural competence in public health
• Public policy and governance in systems
• Organisational strategy and management
• Putting it all together: PRECEDE-PROCEED in systems and across levels

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning & teaching activities10Delivered over 5 days, each with 2 hours interactive student seminar sessions, including both lecture and workshop-oriented activities
Guided independent study100Session preparation and follow up work utilising resources provided on ELE
Guided independent study40Reading and assignment preparation
Face-to-face scheduled lectures will delivered via MS Teams/Zoom, with learning consolidated by self-directed learning resources and ELE activities. Small-group discussion in tutorials and seminars will be delivered by synchronous group discussion on Teams/ Zoom; or asynchronous online discussion.


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Class discussions and small group work activities: applying frameworks and concepts to structuring and solving a public health problemEach synchronous session1-7Facilitator and peer feedback in class

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay and conceptual framework1002000 words plus conceptual framework diagram1-7Written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay and conceptual framework (100%)2000 words plus conceptual framework diagram1-7Typically within six weeks of the result

Re-assessment notes

Please refer to the TQA section on Referral/Deferral:


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Krieger, N. Epidemiology and the People’s Health. Oxford University Press, 2014

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

ELE – 

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Human health, environment, health, public health, global health, climate change, environmental change, sustainability, adaptation, mitigation, renewable energy, one health, policy

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date