Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Postgraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2012 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences
OfferedAlfred Hospital Second semester 2012 (Flexible)
Coordinator(s)Professor J Ibrahim and Ms J McInnes


This unit will examine the health impacts of climate change, and the relevance of this to the principles and practices of public health. Informed by an understanding of the fundamental role of climate stability for sustained population health, and of evidence for anthropogenic global warming, the focus of the unit will be on direct and indirect mechanisms through which climate change could impact on health, including extreme weather events, changing patterns of vector-borne disease, water-borne infections, food quality and availability, air quality, and social disruption. There will be an emphasis on evidence for past and predicted health effects, health burden magnitude and distribution, and the complex interplay between population and environmental factors that influence vulnerability. Students will apply this knowledge to critically appraise adaptation and mitigation initiatives from a public health perspective, and will be expected to engage with current climate change issues and communicate their ideas clearly and effectively.


On successful completion of this subject students will be able to:

  1. Articulate the fundamental role of climate stability as a prerequisite for sustained population health.
  2. Distinguish between concepts of climate, climate variability and long-term climate change.
  3. Critically appraise evidence for anthropogenic global warming and climate change, and demonstrate an understanding of predicted climate scenarios.
  4. Outline the basic principles and tools of public health practice, and discuss their application to minimise the health impacts of climate change.
  5. Identify the potential mechanisms through which climate change could impact directly and indirectly on health, and of the complex interactions between these and other population and environmental factors.
  6. Discuss the magnitude and distribution of the health burden of climate change.
  7. Outline factors that influence the vulnerability of populations to the health impact of climate change, and apply this knowledge to critically appraise public health preparedness and response initiatives.
  8. Discuss adaptation and mitigation initiatives to minimise the health impact of climate change, using a public health prevention framework.
  9. Clearly and effectively communicate fundamental concepts of climate change science, climate change health impacts, and public health responses.


Critical appraisal assignment: 20%
Reflective essay: 30%
Participation: 50%

Chief examiner(s)

Ms Judith McInnes

Off-campus attendance requirements

Compulsory 2 block days