Public Health BSc (Hons)

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Study the most important public health and community issues facing our society today. Explore the policy and practice implications for health in the 21st century. Graduate with a dynamic range of skills and seek employment in the health, education and public sectors.

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Public health is about improving the lives of others by preventing and managing health problems.

On this course, you will learn about the health and well-being of communities and groups. You will analyse the many different determinants that impact on the health of an individual and populations, including biological, social, political and cultural to technological, environmental and global factors. 

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.

Why us?

  • Our Social Work courses (which include BSc (Hons) Public Health) are in the top 25% in the UK for Organisation and management, according to the National Student Survey 2018
  • Our Social Work courses (which include BSc (Hons) Public Health) were ranked 1st overall in the UK in the 2018 UK Engagement Survey
  • Our Social Work courses (which include BSc (Hons) Public Health) were ranked 2nd in the UK for Assessment and Feedback, and 2nd in the UK for Retention and Progression in the 2018 UK Engagement Survey
  • 93.4% of our graduates are in employment, further study or training within six months of graduating, according to DLHE 2016/17 (based on full-time, first degree, home leavers)
  • As our lecturers continue to work in public health, you will learn from their up-to-date knowledge and practice
  • Undertake work-based placements in health and social settings
  • Hear from expert speakers in the public health field

Course structure

This course will equip you to make a real difference to the lives of others through better understanding of factors that impact on health.

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.

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. Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article.

Year 2 (national level 5):

Core modules

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 three

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):

Core modules

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 two

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 areas 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.

More about BSc (Hons) Public Health at Sunderland

Discover more articles
  • 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. As a student, you will have access to a huge range of online databases such as:

    British National Formulary:
    Compiled with the advice of clinical experts, the British National Formulary (BNF) provides up-to-date guidance on prescribing, dispensing and administering medicines.

    The British Pharmacopoeia:
    The British Pharmacopoeia (BP) is the authoritative collection of quality standards for UK medicines and is an essential reference for anyone involved in pharmaceutical R&D, manufacture, testing and regulation.

    CINAHL with Full Text is the world’s most comprehensive source of full text for nursing & allied health journals, providing full text for more than 600 journals indexed in CINAHL.

    The Cochrane Library:
    The Cochrane Library is a collection of databases that contain high-quality, independent evidence to inform healthcare decision-making.

    PubMed Central:
    PubMed Central is a service of the US National Library of Medicine that includes over 25 million citations from MEDLINE and other life science journals for biomedical articles and includes links to full text articles and other related resources.

    ScienceDirect is a leading full-text scientific database offering journal articles and book chapters covering physical sciences, life sciences, health sciences, and social sciences and humanities.

    Library Services - pharmacy, health and wellbeing
  • 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.

    The Sciences Complex
  • Map and directions


Sunderland's exceptional facilities include excellent laboratories and cutting-edge equipment thanks to a multi-million pound investment.

This includes a human anatomy resource, a new state of the art clinical skills suite and bioscience laboratories and a patient simulation suite/theatre.

Entry requirements

Our typical offer is

  • GPA 3.0 or above from High School Diploma along with one of the following at the required grade - SAT I and SAT II, ACT or Advanced Placement

If your qualification is not listed above, please contact the Student Administration team at for further advice.

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 we will require an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with an overall score of 6.0 and at least 5.5 or higher in each component: reading, writing, listening and speaking. An alternative approved Secure English Language Test (SELT) can also be considered if the applicant's element scores are equivalent to those required for IELTS.

Fees and finance

The annual, full-time fee for this course is:

  • £9,250 if you are from the UK or EU
  • £11,500 if you are from outside the EU

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

If you currently serve (or have recently served) within the Armed Forces, then the Ministry of Defence's ELCAS scheme may be able to help cover your funding for this course. For more information, see our Funding for Armed Forces personnel page.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

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This information was correct at the time of publication.

City Campus by night


As a Public Health graduate, you will have a wide range of employment options and our graduates go on to work in a wide range of settings. These include health care, public health, social care and the voluntary and community sectors.


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.

Work-based visits and placement opportunities

In your first year you will be required to undertake work-based visits as part of the Work-based Practice module. In your second and third years there are optional placement modules. These placements can prove beneficial in terms of developing your employment opportunities. You will be supported by a placement supervisor and can choose from a number of settings including health and social care, public health teams, drug and alcohol services, children’s centres, leisure centres and voluntary sector organisations.

As part of the Work-based Partnerships module (Year 2), you will undertake a 20-30 hour placement where partnership working is identified within the context of Public Health. Your placement in Year 3 will see you spend 80-100 hours in an agency or organisation that aims to support people within a health context. This placement will help you to put the skills and knowledge learned throughout your degree into practical use.

Meet the students

  • The staff are all helpful and easy to go to if you have any problems.
    Betty Bizoza, Public Health graduate

    Betty Bizoza

  • Everyone is friendly and always on hand to give advice.
    Diane Stephenson

    Diane Stephenson

  • When I achieved my first class degree it was one of the best feelings I have ever had.
    Fay Stelling

    Fay Stelling

  • The University is a life changing, mind blowing, career nurturing hub for academia.
    Jody Nichols

    Jody Nichols

Meet the team

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