Students will learn about the theory of transmission modes, surveillance, outbreak investigation, current disease prevention, control and management strategies, and emerging and re-emerging infections. Key case studies covering different types of communicable diseases will be used to illustrate these important concepts. Current and future challenges in communicable disease control will be highlighted.

This is a core course in the Bachelor of International Public Health (3880) comprising 6 units of credit towards the total required for completion of the study program.

Mode of study

Face-to-face and online

Key contact

Dr Abrar Chughtai
Course Convenor
+61 (2) 9385 1009

Who should do this course?

Students of the Bachelor of International Public Health (3880) should take this course.

Course outcomes

This course will introduce students to communicable diseases, their global burden and challenges in the control and management of disease spread and impact. This will be achieved by covering key factors such as differing modes of transmission, the impact of travel and behaviour on transmission, the importance of surveillance in achieving disease prevention and control, key steps in an outbreak investigation and current disease prevention, control and management strategies.

On successful completion of this course you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of communicable disease epidemiology, including important modes of transmission and the burden of disease in international contexts.
  • Identify appropriate features of relevant surveillance systems in particular settings and scenarios.
  • Determine appropriate strategies for investigating and controlling an outbreak.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the methods used to prevent and control communicable diseases.
  • Describe the importance of WASH and immunisation programs in controlling communicable disease.
  • Recognise factors that influence human attitudes, behaviours and risk perceptions towards communicable diseases.
  • Identify and use relevant literature to provide supporting evidence for public health decision-making.

Learning & teaching

Each week comprises of one learning module. Core content is provided through lectures, including guest expert lectures. After each week lecture, there will be a case study, which will help students consolidate and strengthen their understanding of the key learning concepts. There are discussion areas on Moodle, where students can ask questions relating to the weekly learning activities and the course assessments. Students also have the opportunity to participate in scheduled online discussions. Each week you will read the assigned mandatory readings and optional readings for more information if you chose. 

This course uses UNSW Moodle as the learning management system for the facilitation and communication between faculty and students, submission of assignments, course material, and posting of grades. All students have access to the course material, readings and additional resources online via UNSW Moodle.

Microsoft Teams will also be used for online synchronous leaning, including tutorials and webinars. We have created a designated team site for the course and all students will have access to this course team site. 

The course is available in both internal (face-to-face) and external (online) study modes.

Internal students:
A "Flipped Classroom" approach will be used in this course. This will consist of both face-to-face tutorials and online components. Students will watch lecture videos outside of class time and will experience related case studies during face-to-face tutorials. Internal student are required to attend the on campus tutorials (2 hour) every week. The tutorials will be activity-based and supplement the content covered in the lecture. Internal students unable to attend tutorials on campus may videoconference in and participate remotely via Microsoft Teams. Recordings will also be made available. If face-to-face tutorials are cancelled due to any reason, the same sessions will be conducted online via Microsoft Teams.

External students:
This course is available fully online for external students. There are 10 modules in this course. Each module contains a mixture of recorded lecture/s and case studies which students can work through in Moodle at their own pace over 10 weeks. Each week composes of one module of learning. There will also be three 1-hour webinars provided for external students during the course to provide an opportunity to discuss content and topics with your conveners. You can access the webinars via Microsoft Teams by following instructions located in the course Moodle website. 

Student taking the course in the fully online mode are welcome to attend the weekly tutorials via Microsoft Teams; however, this is not compulsory. If you choose to attend the weekly tutorials online, you do not need to complete the online self-paced activities as an equivalent learning activity will be undertaken as part of the tutorial.


Assessment Task 1 - Quizzes 1-10
Length: 5 MCQs each quiz
Weighting: 25%

Assessment Task 2 - Outbreak Investigation
Length: 2000 words
Weighting: 30%

Assessment Task 3 - Online Discussion Report Log
Weighting: 10%

Assessment Task 4 - Communicable Disease Report
Length: 2500 words
Weighting: 35%

Readings & resources 

There are many excellent textbooks on communicable diseases. The following are some suggestions that you can use.

  • Haymann DL. Control of Communicable Diseases Manual 21st Edition. An official report of the American Public Health Association. Washington DC. 2021.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Principles of Epidemiology in Public Health Practice, Third Edition. An Introduction to Applied Epidemiology and Biostatistics.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. Hall E., Wodi A.P., Hamborsky J., et al., eds. 14th ed. Washington, D.C. Public Health Foundation, 2021.