School of Population Health

Infection Prevention and Control in the Healthcare Setting (PHCM9787)

PHCM9787 course banner


Infection prevention and control is patient safety priority in our healthcare facilities. In the future common treatable infections may become untreatable. Past estimates of patients acquiring a healthcare associated infection (HAI) range from 1 in 8 to 1 in 10 hospitalised patients. Healthcare associated infections contribute to the disability and stress of the patient, additional length of stay and cost and death. Infection prevention and control in healthcare settings is a global priority endorsed by the World Health Organization and a national priority for the Australian Government, Ministries of Health, the Australian Commission of Quality and Safety in Health Care and healthcare facility accreditation organisations.

This course is aimed at informing healthcare managers, clinicians, planners and policy makers with an overview of HAIs, the complexity of the causes and drivers of the spread of HAI and the activities required for the prevention and control of HAIs. Because the course is aligned with the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards 3 it is particularly of interest to healthcare managers but also international students will also benefit as this Standard is a core component of any excellent infection prevention and control program. The course content includes components infection control programs recognised as core to any sound program by the World Health Organization. An international expert in infection prevention facilitates the course and experts in specific content provide lectures on the current issues.

Credit points

This course is an elective course of the Master of Health Leadership and Management, Master of Public Health, Master of Infectious Diseases Intelligence and Master of Global Health programs. It is comprised of six units of credit towards the total required for the completion of these programs.

There are no pre-requisites for this course. However, it is an advantage if you have basic knowledge about the transmission routes of infectious diseases and experience in healthcare settings. This course complements the content of PHCM9781 Evidence Informed Decision Making, PHCM9782 Infectious Disease Challenges: Epidemiology and Control and PHCM9731 Outbreak Investigation.

Interested students, who are not enrolled in a Masters program offered by the School of Population Health will need to contact the course convenor, who will assess whether they have the appropriate background, before they can enrol in the course.

Mode of study

External (Distance) classes online.

Course aim

This course aims to develop students’ capacity to understand the application of infection prevention and control principles, strategies and policies in a range of healthcare settings. Students, coming from a range of careers, such as healthcare managers, clinicians, planners, policy makers and related disciplines, will gain from this course an understanding of the requirement of an infection control program in a healthcare facility. They will learn about the epidemiology of healthcare associated infections, basic infection prevention and control practices, surveillance, antibiotic stewardship programs and an introduction to antibiotic resistance. They will learn about a hospital approach to outbreak detection and management, and other related policies and procedures to prevent infection transmission.

Course learning outcomes

On completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the epidemiology of healthcare associated infections, their modes of transmission and the factors associated with the transmission and acquisition.
  2. Identify and evaluate appropriate strategies for the surveillance of healthcare associated infections and hospital based outbreaks.
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the effect of a range of strategies for the prevention and control of different healthcare associated infections through an appreciation of surveillance strategies, antimicrobial stewardship, cleaning and disinfection, standard and transmission-based precautions, employee health and hand hygiene. 
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of the complexity around selecting and implementing prevention and control strategies for healthcare associated infections.
  5. Discuss and critically consider the implications of different governmental regulations and legal requirements associated with the prevention and control of healthcare associated infections.
Learning and teaching rationale

Postgraduate teaching aims to support students in developing their capacity for inquiry and critical thinking. In this course, an active learning approach is encouraged through interactive instruction, self-directed learning, collaborative problem solving and peer learning. Core content is provided through recorded lectures, with some of the lectures facilitated by external experts to allow students the opportunity to be exposed to a diversity of perspectives. Weekly activities, including the use of case studies and online student discussions, have been designed to engage students in the learning process. Lastly, for each of the modules that we cover, you will find a dedicated Moodle book which will include additional resources such as short lectures, videos and key readings to promote and encourage active and self-directed learning. It is expected that students will draw on a range of resources to enrich their own learning. The approach to learning and teaching that we use in this course has been designed to allow flexibility in the way that you engage with the material each week and to provide you with the skills to empower you to be a lifelong learner. 


Assessment Task 1 - Online quizzes
Weighting: 40%
Length: Online questions each week associated with the previous week’s topic

Assessment Task 2 - Case study in infection control
Weighting: 60%
Length: 2500 words

Readings and resources

The following e-books are available from the UNSW library: