MSc Occupational Hygiene / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

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


The United Nations and the World Health Organization cited antimicrobial resistance as the greatest threat to human and animal survival along with climate change, because of the profound negative impact it is having on human, animal, and enivronmental health. Antibiotic drugs have remained the most common intervention to try and treat bacterial infections. However, evolutionary processes have always enabled harmful bacteria to naturally evolve resistance to these drugs, rendering the available drugs increasingly ineffective. Human activities have simply escalated this process, and the implications have often been ignored at the level of policy makers and politicians. So much so, that within the next 30 years, antimicrobial resistance is predicted to go on and cause at least 10 million deaths each year around the world, and undermine achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Fortunately, in the last decase this crisis has been recognised as being real and one that everyone, regardless of who and where they are, can have a positive influence in reducing the risk of antimicrobial resistance - yet the threat is by no means over. 

The aim of the module is to upskill the public health profession and enable our students to be capable of making a lasting impact, within and across a one health agenda on antimicrobial resistance. We firmly believe that the public health profession needs to be leading action to respond to the current and future threat in an effective way. Students will soon realise that this is far more than just a clinical or pharmacological issue, and one that is deeply embedded in all sectors across society around the world. A 'One Health' approach needs to be taken, and this is a central feature of the module. Students do not need to have a particular background in pharmacy or microbiology for example, nor do they need to be a clinician to take this modile. The module is focused on the public health issues across a broader landscape and suitable for any of our students. Similarly there are no prerequisites for other modules to have been taken. 


The unit will develop students’ competencies to take effective action in response to the threat of antimicrobial resistance, where ever they are based and in whatever role they may have. Students will be empowered as professional advocates and antibiotic guardians. 

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. 



Week Number

  1. One Health and the pre-antibiotic era
  2. Antibiotics and resistance: what, why and relationships
  3. Antibiotics and nonhuman animals
  4. Antibiotics and the environment 
  5. Measurement and surveillance
  6. People and behaviour change
  7. Human health and antibiotic resistance
  8. The pharmaceutical industr and evaluation
  9. UK and global policy
  10. People, places and society

Teaching and learning methods

This module is fully online and will include the use of:

  • Text, presentations, videos
  • Links to scientific articles, video presentations and podcasts from international experts on this topic.
  • Self-reflection and self-directed learning
  • Contributions to the discussion board 
  • A number of live webinars/tutorials across the ten teaching weeks


 Key topics have been developed with international researchers including the One Health Commission, the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and experts at University of Manchester. The course does not require an understanding of pharmacology, microbiology or infection control and the module is focused on the one health agenda and its interrelated parts within a public health framework.

The course will incorporate activities and one marked summative assessment at the end (worth 100%).

Employability skills

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

Assessment methods

Written assignment (essay/report).

Feedback methods

Students will be provided with personalised feedback for their final summative assignment (2,500 - 3,000 words or equivalent) within 20 working days.

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 at

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