School of Population Health

Health Leadership & Workforce Management (PHCM9701)

PHCM9701 Health Leadership & Workforce Management


This course critically examines a range of theories, models and approaches to leading and managing at different levels in health service organisations. It provides tools to identify and respond to management problems in the context of major changes in priorities and services in health and its workforce. Whether you come from a clinical, public health or other disciplinary background we consider how you can draw upon that understanding and your current organisational setting to strengthen your health leadership capacity and workforce management skills. Topics include: the shifting role of managers in health services; management and leadership theories and models; influence, power and management ethics; managing in resource constrained environments; diversity in health service settings; managing teams and motivating staff; conflict management and improving health worker performance; workforce planning and capacity building.

This is a PLuS Alliance course offered through UNSW. Students at UNSW, Arizona State University and Kings College London who are in a PLuS Alliance program can enrol into this course.

Credit points

This course is a core course of the Master of Health Leadership and Management program, comprising six units of credit towards the total required for completion of the study program.  The course is also offered as an elective in the Master of Public Health, Master of Global Health and Master of Infectious Diseases Intelligence programs.

Mode of study

External (Distance) and Internal (Face-to-Face) classes on campus.

Course aim

The course aims to enable you to evaluate theories and practices in health leadership and management, reflect on their relevance to your own area of practice, and draw on these understandings for identifying and addressing health workforce issues and service outcomes.

Course Outcomes
By the end of this course you should be able to:
  • Assess and critically reflect on your own health leadership capabilities, assumptions, standpoints and preferences for effective performance in the workplace.
  • Examine the issues in making the transition from clinician to health management and key considerations in effectively navigating this change in professional practice.
  • Discuss the key characteristics and changing influences on the health workforce across a range of health service settings and the implications for health leadership and management practices.
  • Drawing on recent research literature, critically evaluate and discuss health leadership and management theories, approaches and practices for effectively managing others at the individual, team and organisational level.
  • Identify and analyse workforce issues within your own area of practice and propose relevant evidence - informed leadership strategies to enhance workforce engagement for improved performance.  
Learning and teaching rationale

Leading and managing are inherently practical disciplines. While this course addresses the theory and evidence base of health services leadership and management, we are also committed to encouraging you to apply this knowledge and to develop practical workforce managerial skills.  A particular feature of this course is to expose you to a number of techniques, tools and strategies designed to improve health leadership performance.

Being able to effectively lead and manage people is challenging and complex. Rarely is there one right way to address workforce management issues. We believe that health leaders therefore need to be flexible, with a range of skills and attributes that enable them to learn through experience. So that they are better equipped to deal with this complexity, we use an action learning approach, which involves working on real problems, focusing on a continuous process of learning, and reflection on how you would implement solutions.  It is a powerful form of problem solving combined with intentional learning, in order to bring about change in individuals and the organisation.

This course is designed to provide you with theoretical frameworks that you are encouraged to apply to your understanding of your workplace, and then to reflect on this process and experience. It provides you with opportunity to gain contextual insights to enhance your own managerial practice.


Assessment Task 1 - Case Study Analysis: The Transition to Health Management
Weighting: 25%
Length: 800 words

Assessment Task 2 - Short Answer: Critical Reflection on Health Leadership Practice
Weighting: 25%
Length: 800 wrods

Assessment Task 3 - Essay: Strengthening Workforce Engagement
Weighting: 50%
Length: 1500 words

Readings and resources
Learning resources for this course consist of the following:
  1. The section outlines with readings.
  2. PowerPoint presentations.
  3. Additional materials made available electronically, via Moodle.
  4. Textbook - Day G. & Leggat S. (2015) Leading and Managing Health Services: an Australasian perspective (1st ed). Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.