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Course Breakdown


Mid-Term Test: 20%

PBL Workshops: 24%

Online Tests: 6%

Final Exam: 50%

Course Information


Recommended Textbook:

  • Essential Epidemiology (2nd ed) - Webb and Bain

UoA Course Website: link

Basic Information

POPLHLTH 111 does not have a course guide. Rather, it uploaded 'lecture notes' (most of the lecture slides) before the lecture and expected you to download and annotate it either by hand (after printing it out) or on the laptop. This is up to you. Otherwise, most of this paper consisted of understanding basic statistical concepts and memorising many facts. The tests were fully multichoice questions whereas the exam was fully short answer questions. However, this paper required you to do extra reading of articles and the like - which would be assessed in the tests and/or exam.


The workshops were 2 hours long and involved going through readings and concepts. The tutors went through the content and you got marks for simply attending the entire session. You had to complete a few activities in a group and once the tutor had finished, you were able to leave. Some things, however, were covered rather exclusively in the tutorials and were assessed in the exam. So it was a good idea to pay attention to those tutorials. Furthermore, short tests were also used to help reinforce your learning from the lectures, and followed the style of the MST (which preps you for the mid-sem test).  Apart from learning the tutorial concepts, you could just ask the tutors generally regarding lecture content if you had questions.

Throughout the semester, you were also expected to finish a powerpoint presentation with your group, and present it at the last workshop. At the very first workshop, you'll be put into a small group and assigned with a case-study (you'll be stuck with the group till the end of semester). After each workshop, you and your group members will have to dedicate time every fortnight for a group meeting (outside of workshop) to complete the group assignment (worth 2%) and meeting minutes. The meeting is generally used to discuss your project (presentation of case study). 


Lecture Content

​Module 1: Measuring the frequency and causes of health dis-ease in populations

Taught by Professor Rod Jackson for 11 lectures in 2019, this module is an introduction to population health and epidemiology which will be referred back to in the following modules, and forms the basis of calculating health. Overall this module is not content heavy, but the first test is known to trip a lot of people up because of subtle wording which requires absolute understanding of the concepts in order to reach the correct answer. Accompanied with his lecture slides are GATE notes which are extremely important and should be followed along with his lectures, not crammed in a few short days before the test as concepts in these readings will definitely be examined. Don't forget it's DIS-EASE, not disease!

This module is split up into three segments:

  • Epidemiological Study Design

    • Introduces you to the GATE frame and how to approach epidemiological studies

  • Errors in epidemiological studies and confidence intervals

    • Introduces various systematic and random bias which could affect validity (RAMBOMAN)

  • Subtypes of epidemiological studies

    • Introduces the many different types of studies that are made.


Overall you’ll find that this module isn’t very content-heavy in that if you tried to make notes there won’t be as much as say BIOSCI107, however, it is very, very important that the concepts are understood extremely well and that the GATE notes are understood back to front.

Module 2: Understanding the Determinants of Health

Taught by Dr Roshini Peiris-John for 7 lectures (plus guest lecturers) in 2019, this module shifts the focus from ‘processing and identifying’ to: prevention, including public policies and a larger emphasis on broader policy initiatives. Dr Peiris-John delivers clear and concise lectures, which coupled with informative and straightforward lecture slides, provides an interesting and enjoyable lecture series. Her lectures are more tied to those of Professor Jackson’s in that the GATE frame is more emphasised and there are calculations involved. Mainly concerned about the different types of healthcare and policies made in the past that have had an effect on the organisation of the healthcare system, this module will also explore various actions taken by the New Zealand healthcare services and the process by which initiatives are introduced. There are quite a few definitions, concepts and memorisation involved but most is straightforward and logical.

Topics are as follows; establishing health and causality in population health, framing the determinants of population health: the Dahlgren & Whitehead model; health promotion frameworks in action (Dr. Rhys Jones); prevention, protection, promotion, screening, prioritising in public health.


Module 3: Strategies for improving population health  

Taught by Dr. Dan Exeter and Roshini Peiris-John for 9 lectures along with other various guest lectures in 2019, this module is definitely more content-heavy than the last and requires a substantial amount of memorization primarily of various categories of measuring health status and phrases used to describe the determinants of health. There is a focus on inequities and inequalities in society and in the health sector, particularly in New Zealand, and thus is extremely relevant to those who wish to pursue future professional health roles. 


Topics are as follows: population changes and New Zealand’s dynamic population; the Dahlgren and Whitehead model; measuring socio-economic position; inequalities and inequities; neighbourhoods and population health; access to Health Services (Mr. Dennis Hsu); Maori health (Assoc. Professor Papaarangi Reid); public health surveillance.

Module 4: Global Population Health: Addressing the Challenges 

Taught by Dr. Roshini Peiris-John for 7 lectures (plus guest lecturers) in 2019, this final module draws the entire course to a close by tackling major health problems that affect the entire global population, and also focuses on some international cases. This module is definitely one of the more challenging ones, in that it really makes you question your beliefs; it is impossible to listen and study this module without feeling emotionally invested. Some more simple calculations are introduced, plus definitions that could be tested in the final exam. Should be noted that her module is extremely tied to the last workshop on the Haddon Matrix, which has in the past been a large component of the final examination. Topics are as follows: Global and Local issues, the Global Burden of Disease Project; Maori Health (Assoc. Professor Papaarangi Reid); DALYs (Disability-Adjusted Life Year) and epidemiological transitions; Non-Communicable Diseases and the role of the Commercial Sector; HIV/Aids, a global communicable disease; Injuries – focus on Road Crashes; Youth Health (in NZ); Climate Change (Professor Alistair Woodward).

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