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Public Health BSc (Hons) - University of Sunderland

Course overview

You will learn about the complexities in health and well-being and be able to apply theoretical knowledge into practice.

The course looks at health and well-being of communities and groups. It identifies and analyses the many different determinants that impact on the health of an individual and populations. These range from biological, social, political, cultural, technological, environmental and global factors. The course will encourage you to think critically about the complex nature of improving health and well-being, providing you with the theory and practical knowledge you will be able to put into practice.

There are optional work-based placement opportunities available in Years 2 and 3 that allow you to put your learning into practice. You will be supported by a personal tutor who will provide additional support and guidance throughout the course.

The knowledge and skills that you develop will prepare you for diverse range of careers in health care, public health, social care and the voluntary and community sectors.

There are many job opportunities in addressing health inequalities and tackling the health-damaging effects of smoking, alcohol, drugs and poor nutrition. When it comes to selecting people for these important roles, the Public Health course is exactly the sort of relevant qualification that potential employers will be looking for.

Meet Paula Ros, a University of Sunderland tomorrow-maker studying Public Health:

Course content

Year 1 (national level 4)

Community Perspectives on Health (20 Credits)

Explore the definitions of community and the approaches that underpin contemporary community health theory. Cover key elements including theory, approaches, and policy with case studies.

The Politics of Health (20 Credits)

Take an introductory look at national and international politics in the context of health, health care and public health. Explore the interconnection between health and politics and the political dilemmas faced by those responsible for the development and implementation of responses to health. 

Work-based Practice (20 Credits)

Explore the opportunities and constraints that underpin contemporary community/public health practice, including ethical issues and community interventions. A key element of this module is the practical application of the principles of community health in a variety of locations.

Fundamentals of Social Sciences (20 Credits)

Learn through a combination of lecture and seminar sessions about three main areas; sociology, psychology and social policy.

Introduction to Research (20 Credits)

Develop the skills needed to understand research in health and the social sciences. Gain an appreciation of the issues around the research continuum and the aspects of research design, analysis and dissemination which need to be considered.

Determinants of Health (20 Credits).

Draw on national and international perspectives and examine the determinants of health. Explore the definitions and concepts of public health and well-being, as well as the complexity of health inequalities within contemporary society.


Please note: some modules contain a placement element, so you will be required to obtain a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check at the start of the course.

Year 2 (national level 5)

Research Methods in Health (20 Credits)

Further develop skills in research design and analysis across the research continuum, including an understanding of the basic concepts of statistical analysis and the production of a health-related research proposal.

Social Exclusion (20 Credits)

Take an introductory look at some of the main issues and skills needed to appreciate issues around poverty and social exclusion.

Introduction to Epidemiology (20 Credits)

Gain knowledge of the main issues and skills needed to explore the burden of disease in the UK and internationally. Cover topics which include health information sources and their critical use; policies to address population growth; approaches to examining clustering of events and small geographical areas; principles of screening; ways of assessing health needs and the portrayal of epidemiological findings in the media.

Optional modules (choose 3):

Health Improvement (20 Credits)

Gain an understanding of the principles that underpin the study of human behaviour, including a range of psychosocial approaches and the ways that these influence health. Analyse wider influences on health improvement, including the impact of poverty and structural inequality on health outcomes.

Drug and Alcohol Issues in Health (20 Credits)

Cover the historic and contemporary use and misuse of substances by young people and adults. Draw upon national and international literature, policy and legislation in order to gain an understanding of the effects and impact that problem drug and alcohol use can have.

Contemporary Issues in Health (20 Credits)

Gain knowledge of a range of controversial health related issues. Consider ways of understanding complex health issues from the role of the media and representation, ethical theories and the role of research.

Work-based Partnerships (20 Credits)

Cover the principles of partnership and looks at how different types of partnerships are formed across the public, private and third sector. Gain valuable experience via a placement of 20-30 hours.


Please note: some modules contain a placement element, so you will be required to obtain a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check at the start of the course.

Final Year (national level 6)

Law and Ethics (20 Credits)

Examine legal, ethical and moral principles which impact on communities, individuals and practitioners.

Critical Issues in Health (20 Credits)

Analyse health issues in contemporary society, and explore a diverse range of sources such as newspapers, health promotion campaigns, television programmes and films.

Dissertation (40 Credits)

Identify an issue or topic and explore it in depth. Form an answerable question and critically discuss the topic in relation to the available literature, ultimately providing an answer.

Optional modules (choose 2):

Global Issues in Health (20 Credits)

Examine the range and breadth of theories and concepts which inform global health debates. Explore issues of power, as well as a range of public health problems that have a major impact on health worldwide.

Building Healthy Communities (20 Credits)

Analyse the concepts, theories and approaches to community health and examine how community health is understood in contemporary society. Explore in particular the complex, dynamic and contested areas of mental health, ageing and end of life.

Public Mental Health (20 Credits)

Gain an understanding of organic and non-organic mental illness, as an aspect of public health, and facilitate the debate between effective evidence-based treatments and interventions.

Placement (20 Credits)

Undertake work based practice in an organisational setting of your choice. Develop and reflect upon a range of employability, subject and programme specific skills which are needed in future careers or area of employment. 


Please note: some modules contain a placement element, so you will be required to obtain a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check at the start of the course.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching methods include lectures, seminars, group work and workshops that support different learning styles. We encourage active student participation and you will have opportunities to present ideas and information to other students in a safe learning environment.

Assessment methods include written coursework, projects, presentations, debates, multiple choice questionnaires and time-constrained examinations.

To find out more about modules, credits and how you will be assessed, please see the page how courses are taught. Information about our policies relating to student experience and quality assurance processes can be found on the Academic Services website.

Key Information Sets

All UK Universities and colleges display Key Information Sets (KIS) on their undergraduate courses. The KIS gives you a quick overview of some standard information about a course, and has a link to more detailed information on Unistats.

Facilities & location

Sciences Complex

This course is based in the Sciences Complex in our City Campus, which has benefited from multi-million pound investment in modern facilities.

IT facilities are excellent with hundreds of workstations available as well as wireless internet access. If you have any computer problems, just ask the friendly helpdesk team.

University Library Services

The University boasts a collection of more than 430,000 books in total, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. There are nearly 9,000 journal titles, mostly in electronic format. Each year the University invests around £1 million in new resources.

Learning environment

Overall Sunderland offers a vibrant learning environment with an international dimension thanks to the presence of students from around the world. At the same time, the University is fully plugged into relevant health care and industry organisations, with strong links and an exchange of ideas and people.


Pasteur Building

Sciences Complex, City Campus, Chester Road, Sunderland, SR1 3SD

Entry requirements

Our typical offer is 112 UCAS points from a minimum of two A Levels or equivalent (e.g. 1 x AVCE double award). Read more on the new UCAS Tariff point system for 2017

We accept a maximum of 6 points from Level 3 Key Skills qualifications.

We also require three passes at GCSE grade C or above, which must include Mathematics and English Language, or an equivalent qualification, for example; a minimum of Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have studied for a new GCSE for which you will be awarded a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above.

If English is not your first language, please see our English language requirements.

Other acceptable qualifications

BTEC National: 112 points from a BTEC Certificate or Diploma.

Access Courses: We would require successful completion of an Access to Higher Education course that is accredited by the Quality Assurance Agency. We would also require a minimum of grade C in GCSE in Mathematics and English Language or the equivalent as part of your course. If you have studied for a new GCSE for which you will be awarded a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above.

Scottish Highers: Our typical offer is for 112 points.

Irish Leaving Certificate: Our typical offer is for 112 points.

International qualifications: Please call the Student Helpline for advice on other acceptable qualifications. The number from outside the UK is +44 191 515 3000.

Any other qualifications: If you have any other qualifications not listed here, you may still be eligible. Please contact the Student Helpline for advice: 0191 515 3000.

Returners to Learning: If you are a mature student, you may benefit from our dedicated Returners to Learning Progression Scheme. For further information email or call the Student Helpline: 0191 515 3000.

If you wish to be considered for direct entry to a different year of a course, please contact the Student Helpline: 0191 515 3000.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

If you feel you already know some of the topics covered in this course, either due to previous learning or from experience of work, then you may not need to study all of the course.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) is the name given to the process of gaining credit towards a qualification because of something you have learnt in the past. If you are eligible for APL you won't have to learn the same topic again, and so you can be exempt from a module, set of modules or year of a course. 

Read more about APL in the Quality Handbook (.pdf). If you think you may be eligible for APL, please contact the course leader.

Fees & finance

The annual fee is:

  • £9,250 if you are from the UK
  • £10,750 if you are from outside the UK 

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or International student, please see the International section of this website.

Scholarships and bursaries may be available to you – please see the Fees and Finance section of this website for more information.

Employment & careers


Our graduates go on to work in a wide range of settings including health care, public health, social care and the voluntary and community sectors. In addition, this course develops generic skills of research, analysis and critical thinking that are relevant for a wide range of other job opportunities.

As responsibility for public health shifts away from health authorities to local authorities, there will be new employment opportunities. These could be in areas such as addressing the wider determinants of health (e.g. education, housing, transport, environment), developing community-based approaches to health development, working with marginalised communities and fulfilling roles in health promotion.


At each level of your studies, you have an opportunity to undertake an unpaid work-based placement, supported by a placement supervisor. Over many years we have built up a wide network of possible placements; these include health and social settings, health development units, public health teams, drug and alcohol services, children’s centres, leisure centres and health centres.

Study Abroad

You have the opportunity to study in another country for one or two semesters during the second year. You can choose from over 150 universities in 20 countries, either English-speaking (such as Australia, Canada and the USA) or non English-speaking (such as Argentina, Brazil and Japan). With employers increasingly looking for a flexible and internationally-minded workforce, it’s a great way to enhance your CV and stretch your horizons.

University Language Scheme

It is usually possible to take a module from the free University Language Scheme. This can be studied on top of your 120 credits or in some cases, can earn credits towards your degree.

Language skills increase your international mobility and you can choose between French, German, Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese and Arabic at a range of levels. If your first language is not English, please check with your tutor about entry requirements.

Staff and students talk about the benefits of the University Language Scheme: 

Our Careers & Employability Service (CES) advertises a variety of opportunities to earn money while you study

Volunteering positions in local organisations, charities and community groups can help you to help other people while learning about your strengths and what you can offer. Past opportunities have included working with children and the elderly, conservation work and sporting activities.

CES also advertises details of paid part-time and vacation work in areas from call centre and retail work through to telesales and marketing and promotion and more.

Opportunities to work with companies on flexible, paid, part-time projects in areas such as IT, design, law, media, HR and event management, to name a few, are available too. These projects are a great chance to gain valuable work experience.


The University of Sunderland is committed to ensuring that every student has an impressive range of opportunities to enhance their CV and gain valuable experience:

  • Work placements
  • Graduate internships
  • Studying abroad
  • Student Ambassador Scheme
  • Mentoring
  • Starting your own business
  • Student jobs and volunteering
  • Careers advice

For more information visit:


Support from staff

You can expect stimulating contact time that includes lectures, workshops, seminars, workshops and case studies. There is also a significant amount of time where you will be researching and studying on your own in preparation for assignments and seminars.

Academic support on this course is a particular strength, according to an external review panel. We foster a supportive atmosphere that has been described as ‘being like part of a family’. This extends to the ease of booking appointments with tutors if you would like more in-depth support with particular topics or areas of difficulty.

If you have more general issues, for example with accommodation, then a designated tutor will be able to signpost you towards specialist advisers at University level. They have expertise in areas such as student counselling, financial issues and chaplaincy matters. 

Support for your development

To help ensure the course is meeting aspirations for personal development, we invite students to provide regular feedback during and at the end of modules. This provides a structured way for you to keep us up-to-date with your views. Students also have a personal tutor who supports you through your three years.

During your course, and particularly towards the end of it, we encourage you to make full use of the resources at our Careers and Employability Service. The Service helps you explore your options, clarify your ideas, develop a career focus and make effective applications.

For more information about all the support services you will have access to as a Sunderland student, please see Student support and guidance.

"The staff are all really helpful."

Betty Bizoza

Betty Bizoza - Student

BSc (Hons) Public Health

“I enjoy being at Sunderland University.

"The staff are all really helpful and easy to go to if you have any problems - they are there to support you.”

"We ensure graduates leave with the core skills and expertise that will make them highly employable."

Kathryn King

Kathryn King - Academic

Programme Leader, Nursing (Top-Up) BSc and Nursing MSc

"We ensure our graduates leave with the core skills and expertise that will make them highly employable. As a result many of our graduates go on to gain management positions in a variety of health settings.

"Feedback from our students is very positive and we actively listen to suggestions on how to modify what we offer. Our success is reflected in the amount of word-of-mouth recommendations we get from students.

"Many of our students are from overseas, thanks to our relationships with countries such as India, China, Nigeria, Singapore and Malaysia, and to reflect this we have an excellent international support network in place.

"Sunderland is unique in the sense that there is a large degree of support built into each programme and a range of options and opportunities to choose from.

"This ensures that all our students successfully achieve their potential and leave with the expertise and confidence they need to achieve and fulfil their individual aspirations."

Apply for this course

Interested in this course? Apply straight away through UCAS, or read our 7-step guide to applying to university.

Want to know more about this course or the University of Sunderland? Order a prospectus or come to our next Open Day to see the facilities and talk to academic staff:

    Next Open Day

  • Date: Thursday 23rd February 2017
  • Time: 3:00pm-8:00pm
  • Type: University Open Day
  • Location: Science Complex, City Campus, Sunderland SR1 3SD

Contact Sunderland

Contact the Student Helpline for further information about studying at the University of Sunderland:

Telephone: 0191 515 3000 

The details

Course Name Public Health
Classification BSc (Hons)
Course Mode Full-time
Course Level Undergraduate
Duration 3 years
Study Location On-campus (Sunderland)
Starting 18 September 2017
UK/EU Fee £9,250
Intl Fee £10,750

Entry requirements

112 points

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