There has been increasing evidence to support the argument that differences in health and opportunities for good health are strongly determined by inequities in social and structural factors in society. The overall aim of this course is to introduce you to major concepts and evidence of practice necessary to understand and reduce or prevent health inequities in western industrialised countries. Specific topics explored include the patterns of health inequalities and inequities in the population, political and structural determinants of inequities in health, and actions to reduce or eliminate health inequities presented through case studies of effective interventions.

This course is an elective course of the Master of Public Health Program, comprising 6 units of credit towards the total required for completion of the study program.

Mode of study

Fully online

Key contacts

A/Prof Fiona Haigh
Course Convenor
+61 (2) 9065 6124

Dr Esther Alloun
Course Convenor

Who should do this course?

We welcome students from any discipline and level of experience to contribute perspectives and understandings. In addition, we encourage you to engage with the material, ask questions, discuss relevant issues with teachers and colleagues, and regard the available literature with a critical eye.

Course outcomes

The aims of this course are to develop students’ understanding of inequalities and inequities in health, to recognise and discuss determinants of inequalities and inequities in health, and to examine actions to reduce or eliminate inequities in health.

By the end of the course you should be able to:

  • define and discuss key concepts of equality, equity, inequality and inequity; describe common patterns of health inequality and inequity in populations; and discuss ways that inequalities and inequities in health are measured
  • identify and describe common theoretical frameworks that explain determinants of health inequalities and apply theory to explain and analyse health inequalities in populations; examine and critique common approaches to reducing or eliminating inequities in the health of populations using evidence and examples 
  • distinguish between actions that have been taken to reduce health harms associated with inequity and actions that have been taken to prevent health inequity from arising in the future
  • identify and describe the distribution of determinants of inequities in health, applying these understandings to planning and implementing actions to reduce inequity or to influence its determinants.

Learning & teaching

Learning 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 to provide 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.


Assessment Task 1 – Written paper: Debate about inequality and inequity in health
Weighting: 35%
Length: 1500 words

Assessment Task 2 – Written paper: development of an intervention to reduce a health inequity
Weighting: 45%
Length: 2500 words

Assessment Task 3 – Evidence of active contribution
Weighting: 20%
Length: variable

Readings & resources 

Learning resources for this course all available in Moodle consist of the following:

  • lectures posted in Moodle
  • an electronic copy of the course notes with links to readings, also available on Moodle
  • a number of resources and references relevant to this course at the UNSW Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity.