This course focuses on how issues become matters of policy concern, how participants (and which ones) engage in policy activity, and on the organisational locations and relationships through which policy is developed and has its impact. Particular attention is given to the relationship between research, other forms of evidence, and policy and practice. Participants will be invited to describe and examine their own experience of policy and policy-making, and through assignment work on a particular policy question, will develop skills in policy analysis and understandings which will help them to navigate the policy environments in which they operate. The course is suitable for both Australian and international students.

This course is an elective course of the Master of Public Health, Master of Health Leadership and Management and Master of Global Health Programs, comprising 6 units of credit towards the total required for completion of the study program.

Mode of study

Face-to-face classes on-campus for Internal students & fully online for Distance External students

Key contacts

Dr Patrick Harris
Course Convenor
+61 (2) 8738 9310

Associate Prof Jagnoor Jagnoor
Course Convenor
+61 (2) 9311 9658

Who should do this course?

Students enrolled in a postgraduate program in the School of Population Health. Other students will need to provide evidence of approval from their program authority and the approval of the course convenor.

Course outcomes

This course aims to develop your understanding of policy as a concept and as part of public health practice, and to enhance your skills in being able to critically analyse, evaluate and formulate health-related policy.

More specifically on completion of this course you should be able to:

  • critically examine the concept of policy and how it is used in both analysis and practice in health-related fields
  • identify the significant participants and locations – professional, governmental and international – in policy development and the structures and practices through which it is generated
  • describe and analyse the way that different types of knowledge are mobilised in the development of policy
  • analyse the development and implementation of policy within a particular field of practice, paying attention to the strategic context, debates about the specific policy issue, and a critical understanding of the place of policy in the structuring of practice.

Learning & teaching

Our approach to learning and teaching is based on adult learning principles. When you are introduced to new material it is expected that as postgraduate students you will be able to integrate prior knowledge, draw on your own experience and formulate new understandings at a theoretical and practical level. It is expected that you will engage actively with the course material, draw on presentations from our visiting speakers, and your own experiences in health to contribute to discussions and scholarly debate. You are encouraged to develop and demonstrate your critical analytical skills to reflect on what you are reading and discussing across the breadth of topics.

You are likely to find that you learn as much from discussions with your fellow students, and from interrogation of your own experience, as you do from formal exposition by teaching staff. The course is structured to help you appreciate and facilitate this.


Assessment Task 1 - Policy problem
Weighting: 30%
Length: 1200 words

Assessment Task 2 - Analysis of policy
Weighting: 40%
Length: 2500 words

Assessment Task 3 - StoryWall
Weighting: 30%
Length: N/A

Readings & resources 

Learning resources for this course consist of the following:

  • Course notes for each of the Modules.
  • Recorded presentations.
  • Course text: Buse K, Mays N and Walt G. Making Health Policy. Second edition. Maidenhead, Open University Press 2012.This text is available at UNSW Bookshop or electronically through UNSW library.
  • Additional resources available via Moodle and further reading.