Course syllabus for

Public Health Sciences - Concepts and Theories, 7.5 credits

Folkhälsovetenskap - begrepp och teorier, 7.5 hp
This course syllabus is valid from autumn 2022.
Please note that the course syllabus is available in the following versions:
Autumn2019 , Autumn2020 , Autumn2022
Course code
Course name
Public Health Sciences - Concepts and Theories
7.5 credits
Form of Education
Higher Education, study regulation 2007
Main field of study 
Public Health Sciences 
AV - Second cycle 
Grading scale
Fail (U), pass (G) or pass with distinction (VG)
Department of Global Public Health
Decided by
Utbildningsnämnden PHS
Decision date
Revised by
Education Committee GPH
Last revision
Course syllabus valid from
Autumn 2022

Specific entry requirements

A Bachelor's degree or a professional degree equivalent to a Swedish Bachelor's degree of at least 180 credits in public health science, healthcare or other relevant social sciences subject area. And proficiency in English equivalent to English B/English 6.


After completion of the course, students should be able to:

  • Explain basic concepts from theory of science and describe their relevance in public health science.
  • Explain key public health concepts and theories used in public health science and discuss how they can be applied in public health work and research.
  • Analyse and present (in written and orally) population health status over time from a global perspective and reflect upon the importance of different social determinants of health.
  • Relate the four moral principles of autonomy, beneficence, non maleficence, and justice to public health research and practice.
  • Describe how to assess the risk-benefit ratio of participation in research and the difference between the benefit of participation and the benefit of the research results.


During the course  main conceptsand  theories used in public health research and practice will be introduced in relation to  three main domains:
1. Foundations of public health science, concepts used in public health science, major public health problems and the social determinants of health.
2. Public health perspectives on theory of science.
3. Public health perspectives on ethics.

The topics introduced under the  domains will include:

  • Basic concepts within the field of public health science.
  • Use of theory in public health research.
  • Introduction to basic health measures.
  • Introduction to the social determinants of health.
  • Introduction to basic concepts from theory of science and ethics relevant for public health work and research.
  • Generic scientific and academic skills.

Teaching methods

Teaching methods includes keynote lectures within the above-mentioned domains, seminars, practical exercises, individual reflections, and peer-learning. The seminars aim to develop knowledge and skills in the field of public health as well as critical thinking. The course include several types of interactive student-driven activities; eg. group work and student presentations.


After the course the students will be assessed by an individual written examination that is graded either pass, pass with distinction or fail.

Compulsory participation
A few lectures, peer-reviewing, student presentations, assignments on canvas, group assignment and the final individualexam are compulsory.

The examiner assesses if, and in that case how, absence can be compensated. Before the student has participated in all compulsory parts or compensated absence in accordance with the examiner's instructions, the student's results for respective part will not be registered. Absence from a compulsory activity may result in that the student cannot compensate the absence until the next time the course is given.

Limitation of number of occasions to write the exam
Students who have not passed the regular examination are entitled to participate in five more examinations. If the student has not passed the exam after four participations, he/she is encouraged to visit the study advisor. If the student has failed six examinations/tests, no additional examination or new admission is provided.

The number of times that the student has participated in one and the same examination is regarded as an examination session. Submission of a blank examination is also regarded as an examination. An examination for which the student registered but did not participate in will not be counted as an examination.

If there are special grounds, or a need for adaptation for a student with a disability, the examiner may decide to deviate from the syllabus's regulations on the examination form, the number of examination opportunities, the possibility of supplementation or exemptions from the compulsory section/s of the course etc. Content and learning outcomes as well as the level of expected skills, knowledge and abilities may not be changed, removed or reduced.

Transitional provisions

Examination will be provided during a time of two years after a possible cancellation of the course. Examination can take place according to an earlier literature list during a time of one year after the date when a major renewal of the literature list has been made.

Other directives

Course evaluation will be carried out in accordance with the guidelines established by the Committee for Higher Education.

The course language is English.

Literature and other teaching aids

Mandatory literature

Graham, Hilary. Unequal Lives [electronic resource] : Health and Socioeconomic Inequalities [Elektronisk resurs]
Coughlin, Steven S. Case Studies in Public Health Ethics [electronic resource]. [Elektronisk resurs]
Further mandatory literature will be available on the learning management system during the course along with further reading.
Extra material will be specified during the course.