Personal Professional Development (Public Health and Primary Care) / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

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Course unit details:
Health Promotion Theory & Methods

Unit code POPH60021
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Division of Population Health, Health Services Research and Primary Care
Available as a free choice unit? No


This module is relevant to a range of professions within healthcare services, voluntary sector or Non-Government Agencies. The module provides a background to the key principles of public health as well as health promotion theory. There is opportunity for students to develop transferable skills and knowledge for inter-sectoral working, asset based approaches, and evaluation. This course unit covers material that will be helpful to staff from the NHS as well as more traditional Local Authority roles to fulfil their public health remit. The unit is internationally relevant and uses examples and case studies to demonstrate concepts and application in a range of country settings.

This module provides a good grounding in the basic theory and practice of health promotion and prevention of ill health. In the unit we start by examining personal and professional perspectives in health and how these impact on individuals, communities and wider populations. We cover principle methods and approaches to the development, planning and evaluation of health interventions whilst considering both the intended outcomes and potential unintended consequences for health inequalities. The course unit is complementary to a number of modules on the MPH and MRes. In particular the unit is relevant to Working with Communities and Intercultural Public Health.

This is an interactive online course. Students must work through the online course material. Students are encouraged to use the Blackboard discussion boards to ask questions and check their understanding of the course material.


  • To acquire a critical understanding of the principles, methods and theoretical approaches to the promotion of health and the prevention of ill-health, and the planning and evaluation of health promotion programmes.
  • To be able to apply learning to developing, planning and evaluating health promotion interventions and programmes in response to relevant public health and health promotion issues.

Learning outcomes

Category of outcome Students should be able to:
Knowledge and understanding A1 Define health and ill-health and explain the underlying principles behind inequalities in health
Intellectual skills

B1 Explain and critically discuss the principle methods and theoretical approaches to the promotion of health and prevention of ill health

B2 Explain and critically discuss the principal methods and theoretical approaches to the evaluation and assessment of evidence for effectiveness of health promotion programmes and interventions

Practical skills C1 Apply their learning about theories and methods of health promotion, programme planning and evaluation to relevant public health and health promotion issues
Transferable skills and personal qualities D1 Manage time and work to deadlines



  • Concepts of illness, health and their determinants, including the role of the broader environment, social and economic factors.
  • Models, approaches and ethical issues in Health Promotion.
  • Historical review of the development of health promotion theory and practice.
  • Health promotion approaches to reducing health inequalities; national and international policies on inequalities
  • Individual Health related behaviour and Theories of Behaviour change; the importance of knowing your population.
  • Population focused approaches: Mass Media, Social Marketing, and Settings Approach. The prevention paradox: high risk and population approaches to prevention.        
  • Community development and participatory approaches: definition, philosophy and place in health promotion; approaches and examples; levels of participation; community profiling and social capacity. This is an introduction to working with communities and students wanting a more in-depth knowledge about this would need to study the optional unit entitled Working with Communities which runs in Semester 2.
  • Healthy public policy: role in health promotion, inter-sectoral approaches to health promotion and Health in All Policies, SMART governance for health.
  • Public health advocacy and issues in implementing healthy public policy.
  • Evidence-based health promotion: issues in identifying evidence understanding the importance of evaluations of health promotion interventions and programmes. Sources of evidence. Please note that this unit does not teach critical appraisal skills or how to use tools to assess the quality of evidence- that is taught in Evidence Based practice.
  • Importance of planning; planning models; health needs assessment and asset based assessment; principles and values; choice of approaches; evaluation; project management.

Teaching and learning methods

This unit has a high degree of self-directed learning including exercises and assignments which involve active reading, appraising and applying information to health promotion problems and scenarios. Throughout the unit, all participants are encouraged to link the course materials to their experiences in every day practice. Formative feedback is given in a variety of ways including webinars, peer comments as well as tutor comments via the discussion board activities. This kind of feedback is not allocated marks but is an integral and very important part of the learning process.

All students will receive written feedback following the mid and final summative assignments.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Students will critically analyse approaches to health promotion and resulting interventions. They will also have the opportunity to analyse healthy public policy in addition to planning a health promotion intervention.
Group/team working
In this module students will consider their ability to work in teams to help plan and evaluate health promotion interventions within their own professional roles and workplaces.
Project management
Students will need to demonstrate understanding of project management skills in their choice of approach to the assignments and use planning techniques to ensure their completion.

Assessment methods

 Assessment task


 Weighting within unit 

 Midterm Assignment 

 1500 words or equivalent 


 Final Assignment 

 2500 words or equivalent



Feedback methods

Students will be provided with personalised feedback for their mid-term and final summative assignments, within 15 working days for mid-term assignments and 20 working days for final submission.

Further opportunities for formative feedback (on non-assessed work) will also be provided during a course unit.

Recommended reading

Foundations for Health Promotion- Third Edition (Required reading from the start of the module)

Naidoo J, Wills J, ISBN: 978-0-7020-5444-0, 2016.

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Angela Spencer Unit coordinator

Additional notes

For further information please watch this video from our Course Unit Leader.

If you have any questions about the content of this unit, please contact the course unit leader, Angela Spencer, via email on If you have any other queries, please contact the PGT programme administrators via email on

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