Master of Public Health: Elective Module Descrptions

Epidemiology and Control of Chronic (Non-Communicable) Diseases (CNCDs) (SPH867)

This course aims to develop an integrated, Public Health approach to understanding and addressing chronic diseases, and to create a shift in approach from disease specific/biomedical models to integrated approaches. The course makes use of key concepts and principles of epidemiology to develop a comprehensive view of the conditions dealt with, with an emphasis on developing and refining the practical skills required for decision making and programme development.

By the end of this module, students should be able to:

  • Analyse risk factors for chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCDs) both locally and internationally
  • Critically analyse barriers to the implementation of global strategies for the prevention and control of CNCDs in order to develop local preventive strategies.
  • Analyse the resources and skills required at local level in order to implement appropriate interventions
  • Create locally appropriate strategies to address the risk factors using the principles of Health Promotion
  • Create an evaluation plan in order to assess the effectiveness of an intervention

Diseases or conditions to be covered may include obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.

MODE OF DELIVERY: Distance learning in semester 2. ASSESSMENT: Two assignments.

Introduction to Health Workforce Development (SPH871)

This course provides an introduction to the scope and main functions of human resources development (HRD). It covers all major areas of HRD (planning, preparing and managing the health workforce), and places them in the context of health systems development and health sector transformation. It also introduces students to the most important debates in the field today.

By the end of this module, students should be able to:

  • Analyse the key components and roles of health workforce development in the health sector within local and international contexts.
  • Critically engage with the rationale, benefits and pitfalls of major human resources development strategies.
  • Conduct a human resource study of an organization using relevant evidence.
  • Develop appropriate, evidence-based human resources strategies.
  • Evaluate and apply principles and tools of monitoring and evaluation of human resources for health (HRH).

MODE OF DELIVERY: Distance learning in Semester 1. ASSESSMENT: Two assignments.

Globalisation and Health (SPH868)

This course covering a critical Public Health topic, illustrates the impact of globalization on population health. Although, globalization comes with benefits such as access to information, collaborative research and mobilization, other manifestations of it in the Public Health context include immigration, travel and flow of infectious diseases, increasing income inequality and their impact on social determinants of health. This module makes use of key concepts to provide the crucial understanding of the opportunities that globalization potentially holds for improving the health of all as well as the threats it presents to global health.

This course is interesting and critical for Public Health students because:

  • It encourages students to think about the benefits of globalization as well as its negative effects on Public Health in different parts of the world.
  • It explores the complex relationships between health and health care and the social, cultural, economic and political causes of disparities in health and health care between and within countries, with a focus on how global factors contribute to these.
  • It guides students in making critical judgments on who benefits the most from globalization and how the costs of globalization can be shared in a fairer way.
  • It also raises interesting questions around the relationship between globalization and climate change.
  • It shows how globalization affects health policies, health systems, which in turn affect health care services for individuals.

The module uses multimedia elements and a case-based approach to consolidate the learning. Students will be presented by detailed case studies from around the world, one on the Treatment Action Campaign and another on child obesity. Students are encouraged to discuss interventions and policies and their importance in addressing social determinants of health and in the consequences of globalization.

MODE OF DELIVERY: Distance learning and a Short Winter School Course in semester 2.

ASSESSMENT: Two assignments

Public Health Nutritional Policy and Planning (SPH870)

This course provides a general overview of the nutrition situation in the world as well as a historical overview of nutrition programmes. It explores some of the technical factors which contribute to successful nutrition programmes and introduces a range of competencies required to implement successful programmes.

By the end of this module students should be able to:

  • Give an overview of the nutrition situation in the world including factors affecting nutrition as well as the impact of nutrition on health, disease and development
  • Critically assess the appropriateness of nutrition and related interventions or programmes to address a given nutrition situation.
  • Identify key factors contributing to success or failure of interventions or programmes to address nutrition problems.
  • Describe socio-political factors related to the success of interventions or programmes to address nutrition problems
  • Outline approaches to and impact of community participation in interventions or programmes to address nutrition problems
  • Design an appropriate nutrition communication strategy for interventions or programmes to address nutrition problems.
  • Plan and implement appropriate interventions or programmes to address nutrition problems
  • Monitor and evaluate interventions or programmes to address nutrition problems

MODE OF DELIVERY: Distance learning in semesters 1 & 2. ASSESSMENT: Two assignments.

Please note that Nutrition modules cost a little more than the rest of SOPH’s modules: see Section 6.3.
Understanding and Analysing Health Policy (SPH851)

This course will enable students to better understand, analyse and formulate health policy which is an important component of health manager capacity. It will cover key issues in policy analysis, theoretical frameworks and approaches used in health policy analysis and key health policy debates.

By the end of the course participants will be able to:

  • Demonstrate understanding of the varied and iterative nature of policy change processes to assess and review a programme.
  • Include, and demonstrate the role of, implementation in a policy change process.
  • Identify key components and factors facilitating and constraining policy and implementation processes.
  • Conduct comprehensive analyses of policy and implementation processes.
  • Apply theoretical frameworks and approaches in understanding policy and implementation processes and apply specific policy analysis tools.
  • Use policy analysis for strategic planning.

MODE OF DELIVERY: Distance learning and short Winter School course in Semester 2.

ASSESSMENT: Two assignments.

Using Information for Effective Management I (SPH865)

PRE-REQUISITE MODULE: Take Measuring Health and Disease II prior to this module.

This module aims to acquaint students with the key principles of action-led health information systems and equips them with the skills to design, develop and implement such a system. The focus is on minimum data sets based on indicators, data collection tools, data accuracy, functional analysis, presentation and interactive report writing. The key intended outcome is to develop participants’ competence to design into the system the routine availability of a minimum, but crucial, set of must know information that can be used to improve the provision of health services. The course will also provide a critical introduction to a national health information system, including its various components, how they interact and the principles of system design. The principles of minimum data sets will be used as a basis to learn about how the various systems interact through standards at various levels.
The module is part of the Health Management stream.

MODE OF DELIVERY: Distance learning in Semester 1.

ASSESSMENT: Two assignments.

Medicines Supply Management (SPH874)
This module will engage students from various professional and national backgrounds in the importance of good medicines supply management. The module content will draw on policy, laws and regulations applicable to medicines and key principles of procurement, storage, distribution and rational use of medicines.

By the end of the course participants will be able to:

  • Identify and analyse key policy, legislative and regulatory frameworks applicable to medicines;
  • Understand the importance of product selection, planning and procurement in managing medicines;
  • Evaluate key principles applicable to the storage and distribution of medicines;
  • Identify and analyse Inventory Management Systems for medicines;
  • Evaluate the use of Logistics Management Information Systems in managing medicines supply;
  • Advocate for stakeholders to adopt Rational Medicines Use principles in medicines supply management;
  • Critically evaluate financial management mechanisms applicable to managing medicines.

MODE OF DELIVERY: Winter School Short Course and Online learning in Semester 2.

ASSESSMENT: Two assignments.

Micronutrient Malnutrition (SPH864 )
This module includes an overview of vitamins and minerals relevant to Public Health in South Africa. There is in-depth discussion of interventions to address micronutrient malnutrition and an overview of Programme planning and monitoring and evaluation of interventions.

By the end of the module, you are expected to demonstrate understanding of:

  • The classification, characteristics, functions, digestion, absorption, metabolism, dietary sources and dietary allowances for the micronutrients;
  • The sensitivity of diagnostic measures;
  • Interventions appropriate to address micronutrient malnutrition;
  • The planning process;
  • Monitoring and evaluation of interventions to address micronutrient malnutrition.

You are expected to demonstrate skills in:

Planning appropriate interventions to address specific micronutrient deficiencies.

MODE OF DELIVERY: Distance learning in Semesters 1 and 2.

ASSESSMENT: Two assignments.

School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape
Robert Sobukwe Road, Bellville 7535, Republic of South Africa
Tel: +27-21 - 959 2809 | Fax: +27- 21 - 959 2872 | Email: