POPLHLTH 725 : Environmental Health

Medical and Health Sciences

2023 Semester Two (1235) (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). 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

Course administrator
Upendra Wickramarachchi
School of Population Health
Email: u.wicks@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 Maori 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 30% Individual Coursework
Policy analysis 35% Individual Coursework
Writing an opinion piece 25% 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.

Learning 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.

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 2021 class was positive (SET scores 4.70 for the course, on the basis of 10/29 returns).

Areas for improvement next year that were mentioned were:

- Provide more opportunities to connect and keep up momentum in-between Block Days together

- Make sure that course content lines up more closely with assignment that are due

- Provide more opportunities to choose what topics we write about in essays, so that we can write about the environmental health topics that interest us the most

- Put less weighting on the first assignment, so we can learn about what is expected in the course, and have more opportunity to keep improving our grades.

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.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.

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 course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

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 students may be asked to submit 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. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.