School of Population Health

image - Medicine Program 1

Medicine Program

The School of Population Health contributes to and coordinates a number of courses in the Undergraduate Medicine Program:

Society & Health - Phase 1
Society & Health - Phase 2
Primary Care - Phase 3
Independent Learning Projects (ILPs)
Further Studies with SPHCM


The School's teaching reflects its core values including a concern beyond the individual, an interest in the societal and cultural context in which health care is provided, and a commitment to equity and social justice. In keeping with this, the School contributes to equipping medical students with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to provide comprehensive, collaborative, coordinated and continuing health care that encompasses a biopsychosocial model of health. Core training in cultural competence, including in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contexts, is integrated across the curriculum.

Students will have opportunities to visit and interact with Aboriginal health and community groups and gain experience with Aboriginal service providers through clinical attachments and Indigenous focus ILPs.

Specific opportunities exist for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander candidates. For further information see Applying to Medicine.


Society and Health - Phase 1

Society and Health (SH) is one of eight courses within Phase 1 (Years 1 & 2) of the Undergraduate Medicine Program. The themes of this course are social determinants of health and disease; measuring health status; health care systems; and improving health by public health approaches.

Major public health concepts covered in this course are the epidemiology of disease in different countries, prevention of infectious diseases, immunisation, public health policies, social justice, disease stigma, inequity and inequality, and the history of public health. This course expands on the public health concepts and the ecological model of health that students have been introduced to in the Foundations course. Other public health concepts are integrated through the other courses in Phase 1.


Society and Health - Phase 2

Phase 2 Society and Health is one of six courses within Phase 2 (Years 3 & 4) of the Undergraduate Medicine Program and builds upon the themes covered in Society and Health during Phase 1.

This 6 week course enables students to explore and gain a deeper understanding of population health through experience in community health, with a direct emphasis of its application to clinical medicine. Students are provided learning opportunities to enable them to integrate knowledge of the social determinants of health with their patient assessment and management integrate knowledge of the social and cultural determinants of health into their patient assessment and management. In addition, they learn how to critically evaluate the way a health system balances differing priorities when providing health care for a population.

Students have the opportunity to develop clinical skills and skills in teamwork, ethical practice and reflective practice within the context of community health care. They learn how to investigate and evaluate population health interventions and their application within clinical practice.


Primary Care – Phase 3

Primary Care (PC) is one of ten courses within Phase 3 (Years 5 & 6) of the Undergraduate Medicine Program. This 8 week course is comprised of a rotation in urban and/or rural General Practice.

In the Primary Care course, medical students build on their prior learning in biomedical sciences and clinical studies. They learn to apply this knowledge in the continuing care for patients living in the community, and other General Practice contexts.

Students spend most of their time in individual clinical placements in General Practice settings. Lectures and workshops at the beginning of the term provide an overview of General Practice; they provide a framework for students to learn and develop General Practice consultation skills, clinical reasoning, interpersonal communication, and patient-centered management. There is a focus on teamwork and managing clinical uncertainty.

General Practice is the medical discipline within the field of Primary Care in Australia. It is a distinct specialty; it has its own knowledge and skills base that is different from other medical specialties and hospital based medicine. The essence of General Practice is comprehensive, coordinated, longitudinal, and person-centered medical care, drawing on biomedical, psychological, social and environmental understandings of health.

Further information for clinical teachers in Phase 3 is available at Primary Care Clinical Teachers' Support.


Independent Learning Projects (ILPs)

The Independent Learning Project (ILP) is intended to provide UNSW medical students with a period of in-depth study that engenders an approach to medicine that is constantly questioning and self-critical. The ILP aims to promote lifelong learning patterns and skills which will enable them to approach future medical challenges in their careers with a rigor and depth not possible without a detailed knowledge of the formal processes of research, literature appraisal, data collection, analysis and presentation.

Further, specific experience and placements within the candidates' Independent Learning Project (ILP) are also readily facilitated.


Further Studies with the School

For those wishing to gain further experience, research and postgraduate study opportunities, as well as doctoral scholarship opportunities, the School offers to suitably qualified students programs in the Master of Public Heath, Master of Global Health, and Master of Health Leadership and Management. See our Future Students page.