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Unit information: Public Health in Practice in 2020/21

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Public Health in Practice
Unit code BRMSM0004
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Kyla Thomas
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Medical School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences


This unit provides students with the skills, techniques and context to practice public health, across the three domains of public health (health protection, health improvement, and healthcare public health). The unit will cover health needs assessment, methods to assess the impact of a plan on population health, communicating public health issues to the public, improving health within a political context including the use of advocacy, partnership working, and development of public health policies and strategies. Throughout the unit ethical principles of public health will be considered in the context of public health practice. The unit enables students to explore these issues in relation to key public health issues (whole system health and social care planning, sustainability, digitalisation, globalisation, and new developments).

Intended learning outcomes

The student should be able to:

  1. Design a health needs assessment to inform the development of a policy or strategy to improve population health
  2. Critique different approaches to assessing the impact on health of a policy, plan or project
  3. Select and prepare appropriate methods of communication with the public about a public health topic
  4. Recommend the case for prevention within a whole system approach to planning and provision of health and social care
  5. Demonstrate the opportunities for digital developments to improve population health
  6. Justify the role for public health with regard to sustainability, climate change, and economic development
  7. Provide public health advice to commissioners by critically appraising the evidence for a new technology, drug, or intervention to provide public health advice

Teaching details

There will be 10 teaching weeks. Teaching will include learning activities set by the tutor including lectures (synchronous and asynchronous), small group work, discussions, individual tasks, and practical activities (face to face or online).

Directed and self-directed learning will include activities such as reading, accessing web-based supplementary materials, critical analysis and completion of assessments.

Assessment Details

Formative assessments will support learning of students by using exercises, quizzes, feedback and writing a press release.

Summative assessment of the unit will be through coursework (short answer questions) which will require the student to demonstrate skills and knowledge developed across the unit (contributing 60% of final unit mark) (ILOs 2-7). Students will also complete a short project designing a health needs assessment to inform the development of a policy or strategy to improve population health (40% of final unit mark) (ILO 1).

An overall score of 50% will be required to pass the module..

Reading and References

Reading and References*

There is no set course text for this unit.

Recommended reading:

  1. Brownson, R.C., Baker, E.A., Deshpande, A.D., Gillespie, K.N. (2017) Evidence-Based Public Health. 3rd ed. Maidenhead: OUP.
  2. Donaldson, L.J., Rutter, P. (2017) Donaldsons' Essential Public Health, 4th ed. CRC Press.
  3. Guest, C., Ricciardi, W., Kawachi, I., Lang, I. (2013) Oxford Handbook of Public Health Practice (Oxford Medical Handbooks). Oxford: OUP.
  4. Sim, F., McKee, M. (2011). Issues in Public Health. 2nd ed. Maidenhead: Open University Press.