Ethics and Public Health (BETH5203)


This unit provides students with an overview of the ethical and political issues that underlie public health and public health research. The unit begins with some fundamentals: the nature of ethics, of public health (and how it might be different to clinical medicine) and of public health ethics. It introduces key concepts in public health ethics including liberty, utility, justice, solidarity and reciprocity, and introduces students to different ways of reasoning about the ethics of public health. A range of practical public health problems and issues will be considered, including ethical dimensions of communicable and non-communicable diseases in populations, and the ethical challenges of public health research. Throughout, the emphasis is on learning to make sound arguments about the ethical aspects of public health policy, practice and research. Most learning occurs in the context of five teaching intensives, which are highly interactive and focus on the development and application of reasoning skills.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


5x7hour intensives; or Distance Education (online).


5xOnline Quiz (50%); 1x2500wd essay (50%)


Students are provided with a list of readings (in digital format).

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules



Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.