POPLHLTH 725 : Environmental Health

Medical and Health Sciences

2021 Semester Two (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Explores ways in which the environment affects human health. Studies links between industrial and agricultural development, environmental change and public health at local, national and global levels. Topics include the role of policies, legislation and public health actions in reducing environmental health risks.

Course Overview

The quality of human habitats is fundamental to our survival and quality of life. This is a basic premise, still true but perhaps less obvious than it used to be since most of us are now separated from, and tend to take for granted, the natural environment. In terms of day to day interactions, human health is determined to a large extent by the features of the built environment, and the rise of cities means our focus is particularly the metropolis. The predominant environmental hazards have changed over time. They have become more complex also - think about the rapid movement of infectious agents around the world, the causes of hunger under a global food system, and all the factors acting on climate change and the consequent effects on health.

The course is designed for students from a variety of backgrounds. However, it helps if you have already completed Principles of Public Health (POPLHLTH 760). It is an advantage also if students have taken either Epidemiology (POPLHLTH 708) or Evidence for Best Practice (POPLHLTH 709) since the course draws freely on concepts and methods employed in epidemiology. This course complements Health Protection (POPLHLTH 726), which deals with the day to day management of local environmental hazards.

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Course Contacts

Course Director: Professor Alistair Woodward   Email: a.woodward@auckland.ac.nz
Administrator: Mrs Indra Colambage Dona  Email: i.dona@auckland.ac.nz

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities
Graduate Profile: Master of Public Health

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Understand the historical development of environmental health (Capability 1.1 and 3.2)
  2. Be aware of the research disciplines most commonly applied to understanding environmental health (Capability 1.3, 2.1, 2.2 and 3.1)
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of Māori perspectives on environment and health (Capability 1.2, 6.1 and 6.2)
  4. Analyse complex environmental health issues, propose a suitable response, and defend your position (Capability 2.1, 2.2, 3.1 and 3.2)
  5. Analyse how and why environmental health issues are communicated in the media (Capability 4.1, 5.1, 6.2 and 6.3)
  6. Demonstrate an understanding of sustainability and what this means to public health (Capability 2.1, 3.1, 3.2, 6.1, 6.2 and 6.3)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Essay 35% Individual Coursework
Policy analysis 35% Individual Coursework
Writing an opinion piece 20% Individual Coursework
Presentation 10% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6
Policy analysis
Writing an opinion piece

Workload Expectations

This is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect  about 24 hours of lectures and workshops, 48 hours reading, thinking and on-line work in preparation for the teaching sessions, and about 48 hours of work on assignments and presentations.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at scheduled activities.
Lectures will be available as recordings. Other learning activities including [seminars/tutorials/labs/studios] will not be available as recordings.
The course will include live online events including group discussions and workshops.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a four block days.

Student Feedback

At the end of every semester students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback and respond with summaries and actions.

Your feedback helps teachers to improve the course and its delivery for future students.

Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the department and faculty staff-student consultative committees.

The feedback from the 2020 class was positive (SET scores 4.80 for the course, 4.60 for the teacher, on the basis of 6/25 returns).

Areas for improvement next year that were mentioned were

- more work on the online learning environment so that distance students can communicate and collaborate better with peers

- clarify the aims of the course

- organise the course resources on CANVAS to make it more obvious which are most relevant

- more feedback on the assignments, and in particular, what is sought in the grading of assignments.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website http://disability.auckland.ac.nz

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/academic-information/exams-and-final-results/during-exams/aegrotat-and-compassionate-consideration.html.

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and your assessment is fair, and not compromised. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the University Website for information about how to proceed.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/forms-policies-and-guidelines/student-policies-and-guidelines/student-charter.html.


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.