Bachelor of Applied Public Health

Be an agent for change in your community, your country or even globally. Take the first step with a Bachelor of Applied Public Health.

Industry professionals as your teachers

Our teaching staff at Torrens University Australia are industry professionals. Torrens has a strong focus on employability, so access to our well-connected staff members can help open doors into your future career.

Practical experience

The Bachelor of Applied Public Health course includes an industry placement locally as well as the opportunity to undertake elective units, which are delivered overseas at one of our partner institutions.

Industry Affiliations

Torrens is a member of the Council of Academic Public Health Institutions Australia (CAPHIA), which is the peak national organisation that represents Public Health in Universities.

Ready. Set. Go.

This Bachelor of Applied Public Health is eligible for study at an accelerated rate. What does this mean? You can be ready to hit the workforce in two years (full-time study load) instead of three!

Success Coaches

Our Success Coaches leverage a student’s strengths and align their learning with their broader life purpose. They work with students from their first admission, coaching students to successfully navigate the educational landscape and build personal and professional capability to improve their employability outcomes including self-employment and entrepreneurship. With a focus on the student’s career goals, and trained in Gallup strengths quest, the Success Coach takes a strengths-based approach to engage with and motivate students for study and career success.


Key Study Outcomes:

About the School

This course is delivered by Torrens University Australia Ltd, ABN 99 154 937 005, RTO 41343, CRICOS 03389E.

Read more about Torrens University Australia

Torrens University Australia

Course Delivery

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Contact a Course Advisor

Workload and Assessment

No. of timetabled hours per week:

Torrens University Australia operates on a trimester system comprising of 3 study periods per year.

It is expected that each subject, whether studied online or on-campus, will involve a combined total of 120 hours of structured and self-directed learning, which equates to approximately 10 hours a week for online subjects over 12-week trimesters.

Contact a Course and Career Advisor for more information on full-time and part-time workloads.

Typical assessment includes:

Assessments vary and include:

  • Critical analysis

  • Essay writing

  • Literature reviews

  • Needs assessment

  • Project development and evaluation

  • In class debates

  • Participation in online discussion forums

  • Short questions

  • Research projects

Subject Information

This subject introduces students to population health patterns, epidemiology, social determinants of health, and health systems and political policies in a manner that allows them to ask questions of data, ethical issues with data, draw out points of significance, and present data in different ways to different audiences. An inquiry-based approach to learning underpins this subject.

Focusing on environmental influences on health, this subject introduces students to the role of environmental risk factors and determinants of disease in illness and injury. Students will understand the regulatory influences on environmental risk factors and environmental influences on health, analyse risk factors and identify vulnerable populations, and strategise interventions using real-world scenarios.

This subject challenges students to make an impact and introduces students to being change agents, teaching them how to recognise health needs in a community and equipping them with the skills they need to communicate to a wide variety of audiences, preparing them to engage with communities to promote health and engage in health advocacy with intersectoral stakeholders and influencers. Special populations and social determinants of health focus strongly in this subject, and students consider how to engage with different communities, and the formation of partnerships with other sectors.

This subject draws together the strands of data analysis from the other subjects thus far and puts them within a policy and management context. Students need to put together an operational plan for a public health intervention, justified with a strong evidence base to secure buy-in and budget commitment. Students also develop their systems thinking skills in this subject as they start to analyse how 1 change in the system has a knock-on effect, planning which elements of the system to address, when and how. Students will learn about the Australian healthcare system and legislative and policy frameworks and standards.

This subject focuses on emergent trends in public health; the impact of globalisation on health, intersectoral and interdisciplinary collaboration, new and re-emerging diseases, new approaches to old problems, and other topical issues that will shape public health into the future. Students will learn to think critically in the presence of uncertainty, and identify emerging issues in public health. Students will be required to draw conclusions based on available evidence and make recommendations through a research report on factors that impact on the future of a public health issue.

Within this introductory subject, students learn the principles and practice of public health and improving the health of populations. Students learn how public health is defined, the origins of public health and its evolution as a discipline. Students learn the key principles of the ‘new public health’, public health practice, the functions of public health, the role of government in improving the health and wellbeing of citizens, and public health service models, including comprehensive primary health care. They consider different understandings of health and illness, including professional, lay and Australian Indigenous definitions. They are introduced to key concepts in public health, including a human rights approach to health, an ecological perspective and the social determinants of health.

Further developing students’ understanding and manipulation of epidemiological data sets, this subject focuses on modifiable risk factors and behaviour, taking a case based approach to learning, exploring current and past public health issues, evaluating different approaches to their control and prevention.

This subject draws together all the strands of knowledge and skill to date and positions the students with an external body that needs to write a grant for external funding for a public health initiative. Students will learn the project management skills associated with grant writing, hone their writing skills for a particular audience and further develop their expertise in data presentation.
This second capstone option gives students the opportunity to plan a health promotion campaign for a special population of their choice. This subject accentuates their cultural sensitivity, critical evaluation skills, and systems thinking as they plan a campaign to hit different elements of a system to achieve a common goal.

Relevant, accessible, effective and equitable health programs that consistently deliver high quality outcomes are the cornerstone of public health service delivery. Public health program development and implementation skills covered in this subject include needs assessment, setting health priorities, development of program objectives, conducting a risk analysis and consulting with relevant stakeholders and developing options, monitoring implementation, financial management and working to deadlines. This subject also provides an introduction to evaluating public health programs, including formative, process, outcome, and impact evaluations. Students in this subject will be required to conduct a needs assessment and prioritise findings, and develop an evaluation plan.

A knowledge and understanding of the Australian health care system and how it compares with the organisation of health care in other countries is fundamental for the public health professional. In this subject students learn about the key building blocks of a health care system, including health service delivery, health workforce, health information, medicines, vaccines and technologies, health financing and governance (including community involvement). Students learn about the Australian health care system and health care financing in a global context including an overview of the principles of universal health coverage, mechanisms of health care reimbursement (both private and public) in Australia, principles of health economics and health outcomes (measuring health and wellbeing). Students learn about health system integration across levels of the health sector (primary, secondary and tertiary care services). Health workforce issues are also be covered as health systems need to balance human resources, physical capital and consumables in order to function equitably and efficiently.

Health informatics (the use of computer technologies and communication systems to store, transmit or analyse health information), eHealth and information and communication technologies (ICT) are widely used by Australian public health professionals. Students in this subject will learn about the role of information and communication technology (ICT) in health, the range of health care technologies, the role of telemedicine, m_health (health applications for mobile phones), the need for cross_ disciplinary communication, the use of health informatics such as telemedicine in rural communities and developing countries, managing and monitoring information technology operations and ethical issues in health informatics. Students will also learn about the ‘digital divide’, or the role of technology in health inequities.

Public health professionals take a systems or ecological approach whereby health is seen as the result of an interrelationship between biological, psychological, familial, social, economic and political factors. Political, economic and social conditions are considered major determinants of health. This subject considers inequitable patterns of health and illness across the community, and the underlying determinants of these patterns. Students will learn to identify the main social determinants of health including those for Indigenous Australians, and how they impact upon health. These include the social gradient of health, gender, child development, social exclusion, work conditions, social support, housing, education, culture/racism and access to health care. Students will develop an understanding of cultural competency and cultural safety. The need to consider the impact of policies in other sectors upon health and intersectoral collaboration strategies are explored.

Public health officials use quantitative research methods to describe health issues in populations and sub-populations, examine the extent and impact of a public health problem, and to evaluate the outcome of a health intervention. Students in this subject will learn survey design and how to apply and interpret statistical data in a public health setting. This subject covers use of descriptive methodologies, statistical inference and probability, analysis of variance, simple and linear regression, and survival analysis. Students in this subject will use a statistical package such as SPSS. No prior knowledge of statistics is assumed.

A major factor contributing to non-communicable diseases is obesity and modern lifestyles. Around 28 per cent of Australians are considered to be obese, whilst an additional 35 per cent are overweight. Obesity rates are higher in low socio-economic and rural areas, among Indigenous populations and among people with disabilities and mental illness. In this subject students will learn about the broad drivers of these trends including globalisation, the global food industry and food politics, as well as behavioural, socio- economic and environmental factors. Based upon a review of evidence, students will critically examine current Australian policy and programs on nutrition and physical activity which aim to tackle obesity, and the evaluation of these programs. Students will learn about how public health as a sector works together with other sectors on public health nutrition and physical activity programs. Aside from policy, students will also learn about other measures of prevention relating to nutrition and physical activity including health education, health promotion, advocacy and legislation measures. Students will learn about effective strategies to promote physical activity and nutrition among specific population groups.

Mental health problems and disorders contribute significantly to the burden of disease; unipolar depression is now the second leading cause of disability worldwide. Mental health disorders and problems with alcohol and other drugs are closely intertwined and linked to the social determinants of health such as gendered violence. In this subject, students will learn about the main types of mental health and AOD issues and their prevalence, comorbidity between mental health and alcohol and other drugs, Australia’s mental health policy and service system and AOD policies. Students will learn how to analyse data on mental health and AOD, health promotion and prevention for mental health problems and AOD, socio-economic determinants of mental health and AOD and the association between mental health, AOD and family and interpersonal violence. Students will also learn about the strong relationship between mental health and physical health.

Leadership is a key competency for public health practice, which goes beyond the management of health services and resources. Within this subject students learn about both management and leadership, including strategic planning and managing teams. They learn the difference between management and leadership, change management processes within health services and systems, public health ethics and values for leadership, theories of leadership and management, and leadership styles and attributes. Students consider barriers to change within organisations and service systems. Students will be required to develop a group assignment within this subject which will enable them to reflect upon group dynamics. Students are also invited to consider “collaborative leadership” within the context of public health, where a key requirement is working with and influencing other sectors which have an impact upon health.

Students will undertake an industry placement to be arranged with a partner organisation. Projects will focus on one of the following areas: 1) a critique of current practice (based upon health promotion frameworks or relevant theory) and development of alternatives; 2) undertaking a literature review on a given area and providing critical analysis; or, 3) developing a policy briefing and recommendations on a topic selected by the host organisation. The time commitment will be equivalent to 1 day per week over the trimester. Assessment will include a report from the host organisation, as well as a written report and oral presentation by the student.

Students in this subject will learn about the 3 pillars of sustainable development; social, economic and environmental. They will learn about the relationship between sustainable development and health and the development of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Students will also learn about the role of the public health professional in humanitarian and environmental emergencies, including ethics within humanitarian work and critical assessment and management of health issues within natural and humanitarian emergency situations.

This subject introduces students to public health issues specific to the Asia-Pacific region. Students in this subject will learn about the epidemiological transition in these countries which is occurring at a faster rate than in Western countries. This has resulted in public health officials having to grapple with the spread of existing communicable diseases (such as tuberculosis, malaria, and sexually transmitted diseases) and new communicable diseases (e.g. H1N1, SARS) at the same time as the rise of non-communicable diseases (such as non-insulin dependent diabetes type 2). Students will consider issues such as access to medicines and reverse innovation. Other topics will include maternal-child health, avoidable blindness; international collaborations and the role of humanitarian aid organisations; and, global health diplomacy including Australia’s role in the Asia-Pacific region.

Changing demographics including the ageing of the population has major implications for the planning and delivery of public health and health care services. This subject considers the way in which mental and physical health issues change over the lifespan, and according to health determinants such as one’s gender and culture. Students in this subject will learn about maternal child health, the in utero environment, child development issues, adolescent health, the development of chronic conditions in adult life, carer roles and health, issues for women in the middle years and health issues facing older people, including disability and dementia. Students will learn about health promotion needs and opportunities across the lifespan and measuring mental and physical health across the lifespan.

In this subject, students learn about the impact of globalisation upon health and the relationship between global health, foreign policy, trade, security, aid and development. They consider the relationship between human rights and health in a global context. They learn about key global health institutions including the World Health Organisation, global health governance, funding and diplomacy, and international treaties for health. Case studies within global health diplomacy and international health are used within this subject.

The collection and communication of personal health information across services, eHealth records, clinical research, new technologies, organ donation, invasive surgery and palliative care, mental health and guardianship law, expectations for family and carer involvement, are just some of the issues that highlight the need for public health professionals to be aware of a range of ethical and legal considerations. In this subject, students will gain a knowledge and understanding of ethics and bioethics and the legal framework for public health in South Australia. Emerging ethical issues such as the use of information technology in health care, competence, advance directives, euthanasia and end of life considerations, and privacy and confidentiality will be considered. Legislating for public health, health care standards and accreditation, and controversies in health law will also be covered. This subject will focus on problem based learning as a technique for teaching and learning. Assessment will include student engagement within a debate on a controversial issue in public health which requires reflection on ethical/legal considerations.

In this subject, students develop core knowledge and skills for designing qualitative research in public health, including collecting, analysing, interpreting and presenting qualitative data. Topics include exploration of the nature of qualitative inquiry; broad theoretical approaches in qualitative research, research methods (ethnography, observation, case studies, focus groups, interviews, participatory action research); research design issues (sampling, ethical considerations, quality and rigour); and ethical issues in public health qualitative research. Students will also learn about the use of software to code data.
Prerequisite: Social, Behavioural, and Cultural Factors in Public Health