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TM5506 - Social Science in Public Health

Credit points: 3
Year: 2014
Student Contribution Band: Band 2
Administered by: Sch Public Health,Trop Medicine&Rehabilitation Sc (pre 2015)

The subject seeks to provide students with a conceptual and theoretical foundation for studying the ways in which social and cultural factors influence the incidence and understanding of, and societies' responses to, health and illness. Topics covered include: social analysis, an introductory conceptual toolkit; health and illness as culturally-shaped constructs; the social environment, social capital and health; medical encounters as socially-structured events; health systems, health services and health, and macro-social determinants of health and disease. Approaches to integrating social and biomedical explanations for health and illness will be examined. In addition, the subject will provide an introduction to the use of social science research methods in public health research, and to health program evaluation and policy analysis. Throughout the course, key theoretical and empirical issues will be explored with reference to selected public health issues, including HIV/AIDS and obesity.

Learning Outcomes

  • In this subject students will analyse and conceptualise the social organisation of contemporary public health practice, from individual to system level, through the application of sociological concepts and theory. (Total of nine associated learning outcomes, for full list see subject outline.);
  • Students will critically analyse health care settings sociologically in relation to the social structure, institutionalised activities, cultural meanings, values and norms, in addition to a system analysis approach;
  • Students will analyse the socio-cultural dimensions that motivate individual health behaviour in particular, health beliefs, culture, risk perception and the lay understandings of health that intersect with public health promotion and practical action;
  • Students will analyse the social distribution and determinants of health employing key contemporary sociological concepts: social class, gender, ethnicity, age and place, the epidemiological transition, social networks, social capital and the intersection between social status and biology;
  • Students will analyse conceptually the nature of patient professional encounters and cross cultural communication within the context of recent contemporary health system change.


External, Study Period 2
Census Date 28-Aug-2014
Coord/Lect: Ms Julie Parison.
Method of Delivery: andWWW - LearnJCUPrinted materials
Assessment: assignments.

Note: Minor variations might occur due to the continuous Subject quality improvement process, and in case of minor variation(s) in assessment details, the Subject Outline represents the latest official information.