Health in World History (MMHU6913)


From Black Death, syphilis, fevers, and venereal disease to Truvada whores and complex dynamic systems, this unit of study requires students to systematically explore the major critical perspectives on public health by examining its history. Most public health policy and practice is in fact determined by the traditions, ideas, values and practices that developed in the past. Students will gain an understanding of how how different forms of evidence have been constructed for different public health policies, and able to identify the social and cultural correlates of shifts in medical and health concepts over time. They will also learn to situate developments in public health in relation to macro political and economic determinants, as they explore how public health and colonial and State power co-developed and how these alliances and power structures continue to be reflected today in the Emerging Infectious Diseases worldview. Students will be able to offer explanations both of what drives change and paradigm shifts in public health policy and practice and of the effects of underlying long term continuities in approaches to public health. Students will be required to use their knowledge to develop self-reflexive critical assessments of the ethical commitments they want to guide their own practice and that of contemporary public health policy.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


1x 2 hr seminar weekly or online response to readings


2x 3000 word essay (100%)

Faculty/department permission required?


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.