This course aims to develop students’ understanding of core concepts in the health and wellbeing of Indigenous peoples worldwide, with particular focus on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia and Indigenous peoples in United States (or the Americas more broadly). 

The course highlights the differences in distribution of disease and health disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and develops an understanding of underlying interrelated physical, psycho-social, cultural and other determinants of Indigenous peoples’ health. Students will be provided with examples of evidence-based research and health practice to learn about the ways in which Indigenous health and wellbeing can be supported.

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

Fully online

Key contacts

Nellie Pollard-Wharton
Course Convenor

Who should do this course?

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

Course outcomes

On successfully completing this course you will be able to:

  • describe the impacts of history, colonization and government policies on Indigenous peoples and their health
  • identify and discuss Indigenous concepts of health and wellbeing
  • describe and compare key demographic and health indicators and common health conditions for Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations, in different countries
  • articulate the concept of the social determinants of health and discuss its relevance for understanding the health and wellbeing of Indigenous peoples
  • identify and discuss principles for public health action designed to improve the health and wellbeing of Indigenous peoples, including human rights and strengths-based approaches to health promotion and primary health care
  • examine and reflect on how one’s own culture and dominant cultural paradigms influence perceptions of and interactions with Indigenous peoples, and demonstrate a reflexive public health practice for Indigenous health contexts.

Learning & teaching

The course has been designed to support you in gaining understanding of key concepts related to Indigenous health, and the ability to demonstrate skills in applying principles for effective public health action relevant to Indigenous population contexts.

Our approach for achieving these capabilities is a learning environment that asks for deep ongoing participation each week in the multimedia resources of the course, including: video, readings and online discussions, as well as your commitment to individual reflection, peer collaboration and teamwork.

In this course you will learn through hearing from experts in the field, and from engaging with a rich array of media and case studies primarily from Australia and the United States. We have developed the course to centre Indigenous voices and perspectives and emphasise Indigenous led and strengths-based approaches to public health action.

The course is delivered fully online over a ten-week term, and each week is composed of one module of learning.

You are expected to spend approximately 12 hours a week actively participating in this course through engaging with the online lessons, resources and preparing for and completing assessments through UNSW Moodle.


Assessment Task 1 - Reflective Blog
Length: Each post 250-300 words (fortnightly posts)
Weighting: 20%

Assessment Task 2 - Discussion Forum Participation
Length: Each post 150 words ((fortnightly posts))
Weighting: 20%

Assessment Task 3 - Group Wiki
Weighting: 25%

Assessment Task 4 - Investigative Report
Length: 1800 words
Weighting: 35%

Readings & resources 

The following learning resources for this course are available on Moodle:

  • Lesson recordings and transcripts.
  • Weekly lists of readings and viewings. These include “required readings and viewings” that you will need to engage with to complete course activities and achieve course outcomes. Optional readings and viewings, and resources for further self-directed study and exploration are also provided.