School of Population Health

Inequalities and Health (PHCM9626)

PHCM9626 course


There has been increasing evidence to support the argument that differences in health and opportunities for good health are strongly determined by the inequities in social and structural factors in society. The overall aim of this course is to introduce you to major conceptual and practical issues in understanding and addressing health inequalities in western industrialised countries. Specific topics explored will include the patterns of health inequity, the political and structural causes of inequities, and actions to address health inequities presented through case studies of effective interventions.

Credit points

This course is an elective course of the Master of Public Health Program, comprising six units of credit towards the total required for completion of the study program.


Whilst there are no prerequisites for this course, prior completion of core courses including epidemiology and health promotion is recommended.

Mode of study

This course is offered Externally (fully online).

Course aim

The aims of this course are to describe inequalities in health, identify determinants of inequalities and inequities in health, and explore actions to reduce or eliminate inequities in health.

Course Outcomes
By the end of the course you should be able to:
  • Define and discuss key concepts of equity, inequality and related terms, common patterns of health inequality and ways that inequalities are measured.
  • Identify and describe common theoretical frameworks to explain health inequalities and apply these to explain an identified pattern of health inequality.
  • Describe common approaches to addressing health inequality.
  • Distinguish between actions that have been taken to reduce inequality, actions that have been taken to reduce health harms associated with inequality, actions that have been taken to prevent health inequality from arising in the future.
  • Understand patterns of health inequality and their causes and apply these understandings to planning and implementing an action to reduce inequality or to influence its determinants..
Learning and teaching rationale

The course has been designed to build on and integrate knowledge that students have developed in a number of core courses including epidemiology and health promotion and elective subjects such as Community Development. It draws on theory and evidence from many disciplines including epidemiology, psychology, sociology and political science. Students are encouraged to draw on what they have learned in other courses to help develop their understandings of health inequalities. Because so much of our understanding of the causes of health inequalities and what we think should be done to address them is based on our values, beliefs and assumptions there are no “right answers” to many of the questions that you may have or which are posed throughout the course. The course aims to develop your critical thinking skills so that you can be clear about your views and the values and beliefs that underpin these views.


Assessment Task 1
Weighting: 50%
Length: 2500 words

Assessment Task 2
Weighting: 50%
Length: 3000 words

Readings and resources

Learning resources for this course all available in Moodle consist of the following:

  • Course notes and readings
  • Lecture recordings and slides
  • Videos and podcast interviews