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.


Monday 4 August, Monday 18 August, Monday 1 September, Monday 15 September, Monday 13 October 2014.

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.

Held at the University of Sydney, Camperdown.

Application Deadline

30th July
(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:

  • 3-4 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 offered by the Sydney School of Public Health need to complete the application form and tax invoice (PDF).

If you would like to apply for a group, please complete the group application form and tax invoice (PDF).

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.

Please either fax or post the application form with payment to:

Office for Teaching and Learning
Sydney School of Public Health
Room 329, Level 3
Edward Ford Building (A27)
The University of Sydney
NSW 2006

Tel: +61 2 9351 4366
Fax: +61 2 9036 6247

More Information

Please contact