This unit (HMG7220) examines the contribution of the social sciences to understanding and improving public health. The influence of culture and society on beliefs, attitudes and behaviours around health and how these shape disease risk and health outcomes is critically appraised. Students will explore the complex relationships between gender, culture and health inequalities. The efficacy of policies and strategies to address such inequalities will be evaluated. Concepts such as cultural competence, cultural safety and cultural humility as they relate to public health practice will be examined. Students will evaluate effective communication strategies, for public health practice when working with diverse communities.

Unit details

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Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Evaluate theoretical frameworks which explain the influence of society and culture on health and access to health care and defend their application in known and unknown scenarios;  
  2. Critically appraise efforts to address health inequalities through public health policies and programs, taking into account sociological and anthropological perspectives;  
  3. Apply and justify the use of the varying terms relating to cultural perspectives, that inform public health practice directed at addressing health inequalities in diverse populations; and  
  4. Propose effective communication strategies for public health practitioners working with social groups in diverse cultures.  


Melbourne campuses

Students studying under the VU Block Model.

Assessment type Description Grade
Other Media contribution regarding a contemporary public health issue (1000 words) 20%
Case Study Case study on health inequality and public health strategy (2500 words) 50%
Presentation Group presentation (10 minutes plus questions) on culture and public health 30%

Other locations

Assessment type Description Grade
Other Contribution to a discussion board on concepts on issues currently in media that impact beliefs, attitudes and behaviours around health (500 words) 10%
Case Study Case study on specific health inequality (2500 words) 50%
Essay Essay on cultural competence (2000 words) 40%

Where to next?

As part of a course

This unit is studied as part of the following courses. Refer to the course page for information on how to apply for the course.

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