This course will provide students with a comprehensive appreciation of vaccine-preventable disease epidemiology and national immunisation policies relevant to low-, middle- and high-resourced countries and in the context of global immunisation goals.

The course encompasses diverse aspects from vaccine development and clinical trials, policy development, program implementation and evaluation, vaccine safety and public perceptions of risk. This course aims to provide graduates with knowledge and skills in the epidemiological principles and policy issues required to develop, implement and evaluate immunisation programs. It draws on internationally recognised experts with a breadth of experience, and has an emphasis on practical learning experiences using real case scenarios.

It is important that students enrolling in the course have knowledge and experience in public health or a health-related area. Interested students who are not enrolled in a relevant masters program will need to contact the course convenor, who will assess whether they have the appropriate background, before enrolling in this course.

Mode of study

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

Key contacts

A/Prof Anita Heywood
Course Convenor
+61 (2) 9385 3667

Who should do this course?

This course is designed for people working in public health or related disciplines who have an interest in immunisation, and would like to broaden their knowledge and skills.

Course outcomes

This course aims to develop students’ capacity to develop, implement and evaluate immunisation programs. It will provide students with the skills to interpret epidemiological data to support policy decision-making with application to different resource settings. Students will gain an awareness of how a range of factors inform and influence immunisation policy and practice in Australia and in a global context, developing students’ ability to critically evaluate new and existing vaccines and programs.

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

  1. recognise and interpret the complex issues shaping immunisation policy and practice, including changing disease epidemiology, vaccine coverage, adverse events and risk communication, and social and behavioural factors, for a range of vaccine-preventable diseases and settings
  2. apply the core concepts of immunity and vaccination to a range of contexts
  3. describe the process of pre-licensure vaccine development, including clinical trials evaluating vaccine efficacy and safety
  4. identify the data requirements, and analyse and interpret data, to assess the need for an immunisation program and the impact of a program on the epidemiology of vaccine-preventable diseases
  5. determine appropriate methods used to monitor determinants of immunisation program delivery including vaccination coverage, vaccine effectiveness and adverse events following immunisation
  6. recognise and explain factors that influence vaccine coverage in the population, including equity and access, social/behavioural factors and public perceptions about vaccine safety and effectiveness, and determine their impact on program delivery
  7. recognise and apply the principals of process, outcome and impact evaluation of immunisation programs to a range of vaccine-preventable diseases and settings.

Learning & teaching

Core content is provided through lectures, including guest expert lectures. Weekly small group activities, which include the use of case studies and online student discussions, have been designed to engage students in the learning process, encourage active and self-directed learning and provides opportunities for students to debate key issues in immunisation. 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 strategies which include interactive instruction, self-directed learning, experience-based learning and peer-learning.

PHCM9050 consists of a weekly live lectures and small group discussion facilitated through MS Teams throughout the term. Each week, expert-led lectures provide core content material which are followed by case studies or active discussion, during synchronous tutorials and through asynchronous discussion forums, providing opportunities for students to explore the course content.


Assessment Task 1 – Individual Report: Case studies in immunisation
Weighting: 20%
Length: 1000 words

Assessment Task 2 – Online peer-led discussion forum
Weighting: 35%
Length: N/A

Assessment Task 3 – Individual Report: Evaluating the impact of an immunisation program
Weighting: 45%
Length: 2500 words

Readings & resources 

Learning resources for this course consist of the following:

  • course notes and readings
  • lecture slides
  • lecture recordings
  • relevant course resources for each module
  • materials shared as part of the online learning assessment component.

There are no set textbooks for this course. Relevant course resources are set out in the course notes at the end of each module. General resources are listed in the course outline.