MPH Public Health (Web-based Learning) / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Public Health and the Antibiotic Crisis

Course unit fact file
Unit code POPH65072
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


This is a new and exciting module, and follows the recent Tripartite Agreement with the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Organization for Animal Health to take an integrated, one health approach with respect to antimicrobial resistance. The module is an opportunity for students to understand the reality of this global priority, recognised by the World Economic Forum, organizations listed above, and international experts as grave an issue as climate change, and probably worse. Attention is given to a local and global perspective, drawing on examples from the UK and low income countries in particular.

The module considers the micro and macro level influences and possible solutions for antimicrobial resistance. This includes opportunities for students to examine and critique national and international policy, reflect on the structural and social determinants of health, and human behaviours in relation to this topic. A local and global perspective is taken, drawing on examples from the UK and low-income countries in particular.

Like the novel Sars-Coronavirus-2, antimicrobial resistance is as much a local problem as a global problem. The module draws on some of the relationships and consequences of the pandemic concerning antimicrobial resistance. Given the breadth and depth of the one-health agenda for antimicrobial resistance, the module has had to focus on just antibiotic resistance, but notes the similarities with antiviral and antifungal resistance, both health priorities too.

Students do not need to have studied previous topics nor have a detailed understanding of microbiology, pharmacology, or be a clinician. The aim of the module is to upskill the public health profession as a whole and for our students to be capable of making a lasting impact, within and across a one health agenda on antimicrobial resistance. 


This unit will develop students’ competencies to provide a one health approach to local and global priorities in relation to antimicrobial resistance (with a focus on antibiotics). It will cover topics from human, animal, and environmental health, in addition to the role of the pharmaceutical industry, UK + global policy, and embedded in society and structures. The course includes examples across the world, in particular the UK and sub-Saharan Africa, alongside interviews and videos from international experts. The focus is on antibiotic resistance, but recognises that resistance to antimicrobials is a public health priority, and often related to similar issues.   

Learning outcomes

Category of outcome Students should be able to: 
A. Knowledge and understanding A1 Give an evidence-based account of how certain processes, behaviours and structures are influencing antimicrobial resistance from a one-health perspective.
A2 State the objectives in WHO and country-level action plans with respect to antimicrobial resistance and a one-health perspective and be aware of links with other policy agendas.
B. Intellectual skills B1 Analyse variation/trends in the use of antimicrobials in human, animals and the environment. 
B2 Identify the opportunities for increasing the appropriate use of antimicrobials from a patient, provider and policy perspective.
B3 Critique the potential impact of policy and regulation with regards to reducing harms from antimicrobial resistance from a one-health perspective.
B4 Debate the merit of different strategies/policies and interventions to reduce morbidity and mortality from antimicrobial resistant bacteria in humans.
C. Practical skills C1 Use online information sources such as national and international surveillance systems, and health care activity data, to report on indicators of resistance and care provision. 
D. Transferable skills and personal qualities D1 Create effective ways to engage all stakeholders on this type of local and global public health topic, with a focus on behaviour change.
D1 Consider context-specific inequalities when reviewing and formulating policies to reduce harm from health threats interrelated across the one-health agenda. 



Key themes

  1. The introduction of antibiotics ‘the magic bullet’ 
  2. The development of antibiotic resistance
  3. Antibiotics in the food chain, agriculture and animal health
  4. Use and impact of antibiotics in the environment 
  5. Surveillance systems for responding to antibiotic resistance
  6. People and behaviours. 
  7. Human healthcare
  8. The role of the pharmaceutical industry, and economic impacts.
  9. UK and global policy
  10. Society and structure

Teaching and learning methods

This fully online unit will include a variety of approaches to cover the curriculum and support students in meeting the independent learning outcomes. This will include: 

  • Text, presentations, videos
  • Links to scientific articles, video presentations and podcasts from international experts on this topic.
  • Self-reflection 
  • Contributions to the discussion board 
  • Live webinars/tutorials on a weekly basis (where possible) provided by the tutor on Mondays at 17:00hrs UK time.

Students will be strongly encouraged to reflect on their own experiences and context. They will need to utilise the directed resources and others that they find, to stretch the breadth and depth of their intellect on this topic and as part of the marked assessments.

This is a new and exciting module and makes an important contribution to ensure public health professionals can respond to this local, national and international priority. Taking a one health perspective will show the direct and indirect links across all parts of our lives, with respect to antibiotic resistance, and what action must be taken. Key topics have been developed with international researchers including the One Health Commission, the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and experts at Univ Manchester. The course does not require a detailed understanding of microbiology or infection control and the core focus of the course is on the one health agenda and its interrelated parts.

The course will incorporate a mid-term and final marked assessment, supported by formative tasks/activities, webinars/tutorials with the tutors, and self-assessments/quizzes throughout. Students will need to complete different types of activities as self-directed learning. Webinars will be held every Monday at 17:00 UK time across the ten weeks taught units (i.e. not during assessment periods and timetabled holidays). At times it might be necessary to alter dates with competing priorities and tutor holidays. The webinars/tutorials will last up to 45 minutes. It is vital that students attend these where they can. Whilst recorded, without students, the webinar/tutorial will have little value even if recorded. As a guide, we would expect attendance of at least 70%. 

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Group/team working
Project management
Oral communication
Problem solving
Written communication
Topic Expertise

Assessment methods

Assessment Task Length Weighting within unit
Midterm 2,000 words 50%
Final 2,000 words 50%


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 the course unit.

Recommended reading

Books / Journals
Indicative journals -
Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (

Kahn, LH. (2016). ‘One Health And The Politics Of Antimicrobial Resistance’. Baltimore, USA. John Hopkins University. 

British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (
One Health Commission (


Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Roger Harrison Unit coordinator

Additional notes

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

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