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Promoting public health: skills, perspectives and practice

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Public health is everyone’s business and the contribution of local authorities, education, social care, families, police, prisons, business and voluntary sectors is now acknowledged as vital. This module enables you, whatever your background and expertise, to develop your knowledge, skills and understanding of multidisciplinary public health across the UK, internationally and globally. You'll investigate health projects, experience team working and build your skills in communication, critical reflection, community involvement, policy making, and delivering ethical evidence-based practice. The module is mapped against UK Public Health Register and Nursing and Midwifery Council standards.

What you will study

More specific aims of the module are to:

  • investigate the scope and nature of contemporary public health across the UK and internationally, focusing on its development, current priorities and future challenges
  • explore the major determinants of health and develop ways of promoting public health that address social and economic inequalities and are culturally sensitive and holistic
  • build knowledge and skills in communication, teamwork and computer-based collaboration
  • develop a skill set for evidence-based practice, including researching, analysing and evaluating health information and policy and accessing computer-based data
  • practise multidisciplinary and multisectoral planning, development and evaluation of programmes to improve health through learning activities and assessment
  • build an approach to promoting public health that is ethically sound and participative, recognising the need for flexibility and mutual goal setting, and respecting the rights of individuals, groups and communities to autonomy and control
  • encourage partnership, collaboration and mutual respect among different professional and lay groups working in public health
  • examine ethical, political and professional dilemmas that arise in new practices and policies for promoting health and consider how these dilemmas may be tackled.

Key features of the module include:

  • opportunity for reflection and consolidation of learning and for testing out the applicability of your learning to practice through activities, assessment and discussion with other students
  • a focus on developing communication (including computer-based communication) and information-literacy skills that will enable you keep up to date in this field as well as develop skills to critically appraise policy and practice
  • a thorough grounding in skills for evidence-based practice – this includes encouraging you to research and critically evaluate data and other information that you have searched for, to support you in becoming an independent learner
  • wide-ranging evidence and case study material about UK, international and global public health priorities, practice and policies, to help enhance your own practice
  • assessment that provides opportunities for you to demonstrate your knowledge and skills, reflect on your learning and assess your progress, with an end-of-module assignment focused on a public health intervention.

You will need basic skills in using a PC and accessing the internet. Note that relevant computer and internet skills are integrated into the module.

This module is delivered online. You progress through the module by means of sixteen Learning Guides, which you access online but are also printable. The online Learning Guides contain activities, interactive quizzes and links to relevant websites, and also a range of case studies presented through video and audio clips. Consolidation weeks have been built into the study calendar to allow time for reflection, assignment writing and catching up.

Professional recognition

If you successfully complete K311, you can claim a Certificate in Promoting Public Health provided you are not registered for another qualification. K311 meets most of the UKPHR standards for public health practitioners, which are drawn from the Public Health Skills and Career Framework, the Knowledge and Skills Framework for the NHS and the National Occupational standards for Public Health. See the UK Public Health Register website for further information about these standards.

Entry requirements

This is an OU level 3 module. OU level 3 modules build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at OU levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject, preferably with the OU. You are not required to have done any study before in this subject area but if you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

Preparatory work

You will receive guidance of how to get started online. This will provide you with information on using your computer for OU study and working with the Computing Guide. For example, it explains how to access and use your website and online discussion forums. If you have time before the module starts, you can work through this and explore all the online services available to you.

What's included

This module is delivered online. You will have access to a website through which the assessment and teaching and library resources are available. The audio-visual components of this module are all available online through the website. 

Computing requirements

A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

A desktop or laptop computer with either:

  • Windows 7 or higher
  • Mac OS X 10.7 or higher

The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor to help you with the study material and to assess your on-going progress by marking and commenting on your written work. You may ask your tutor for advice and guidance online or by phone as the module progresses. The contact with your tutor and other students will be through email, online discussion forums, and by telephone. 

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

You must submit your end-of-module assessment (EMA) online.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying K311 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Promoting public health: skills, perspectives and practice starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that starts in October 2019 when we expect it to be presented for last time.

Course work includes:

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

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