Ethics and Public Health (BETH5203)


This course provides students with an overview of the broader philosophical, ethical, socio-political and cultural issues that underlie public health and public health research. Students will first review the history of public health and examine the values that underpin health promotion and disease prevention. The second part of the course examines the place of facts and values in public health and the construction and use of information, with particular reference to the evidence-based-medicine. The third part of the course examines the cultural, moral and social context of public health including the social determinants of health, the construction of health services, the determination of research priorities and issues relating to human rights and global health. Learning activities will include an orientation session, an intensive lecture/seminar program and online learning activities.


By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Outline the assumptions, conceptual bases, and main ethical problems that arise in relation to:
    a) Public health practice/policy
    b) Public health research
    c) Community-based and international research
    d) Health promotion and disease prevention
    e) Public health communication and education
    f) Provision and allocation of health services
  • Analyse issues relating to public health and public health research through a variety of standard and alternative bioethics, sociopolitical, legal, philosophical, and historical perspectives.
  • Constructively engage in the public discourse relating to public health, critique their own practice and beliefs (where relevant) and develop public health interventions and research projects that are ethically reflective.

Instructional Format

The course includes five full day (9am -5pm) intensives. Students are expected to spend up to 4-6 hours per week on online learning activities. There is no prescribed textbook.

Dates for 2016

(All Fridays) 5 and 19 August, 2 and 16 September, 7 October 2016

Lectures will also be recorded and will be made available on the course’s eLearning website.


Intensives 1 & 2: Medical Foundation Building (K25) Auditorium
Intensives 3 & 4: New Law School Annexe Building (F10A) Seminar Room 346
Intensive 5: New Law School Annexe Building (F10A) Seminar Room 444

All University of Sydney, Camperdown.

Application Deadline

29 July 2016
(late applications may be accepted).

Course Fee

$1, 100 (including GST)

For a group of participants from the same institution or organization, the following discounts will apply:

  • 3 or more participants: 10% discount

The University's tuition fees are reviewed annually and may be varied during the period of study. The exact tuition fee may depend on the specific units of study in which you apply.

Application Form

Applicants wanting to undertake the Ethics and Public Health short course need to complete the online application. You will be able to enter payment details as part of this secure process.

If you would like to apply for a group, please complete the group application form and tax invoice (PDF) and email it to the Bioethics administration team at . This can also be faxed to the Office for Teaching and Learning (details right of screen).

If you are a University of Sydney staff member and would like to apply, please contact the Office for Teaching and Learning regarding a journal transfer after you have submitted your application form.

More Information

Please contact