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Public health: health promotion and health security

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Public health is everybody’s business. Whether or not you are in professional practice, your viewpoint is a central aspect of this module. It will inform and empower you to challenge your existing assumptions around current policies and interventions and encourage you to move your everyday actions and practice forward. Public health: health promotion and health security considers both communicable and non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and how the demography and epidemiology of both types of disease have uncovered health inequality and inequity in society. The module is mapped against the current United Kingdom Public Health Register (UKHPR) requirements and offers you insights into how social determinants impact the health and wellbeing of diverse social groups. It’s ideal if you’re interested in developing a career in public health or want to discover ways of sustainably promoting greater health and wellbeing while strengthening integrated public health services and reducing inequalities.

What you will study

Public health is defined as the art and science of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organised efforts of society1. Never in recent memory have public health measures, prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, involved so many people throughout the world in collective and individual action to improve their health and wellbeing. Most recognisably through measures involving public health interventions.

Central to public health are issues of social justice arising from the social determinants of health and illness. Public health: health promotion and health security will play a central role in revealing insights into the ways in which social determinants impact on the health and wellbeing of diverse social groups.

This module is made up of 17 Learning Guides across 4 blocks of study. They are typically a week in duration each. During each block, you'll focus on a particular area associated with public health.

Block 1: An introduction to public health

  • Learning Guide 1: What is public health
  • Learning Guide 2: The scope of public health
  • Learning Guide 3: Health trends and wider determinants
  • Learning Guide 4: Theory and policy in health promotion
  • Learning Guide 5 Theory and policy in health promotion: health security

Block 2: Evidence-based public health

  • Learning Guide 6: The evidence base of public health
  • Learning Guide 7: Understanding quantitative research
  • Learning Guide 8: Understanding qualitative research
  • Learning Guide 9: Using research to plan public health interventions

Block 3: Planning, implementing and evaluating public health on a community level

  • Learning Guide 10: Education and empowerment
  • Learning Guide 11: Communities
  • Learning Guide 12: Settings
  • Learning Guide 13: Partnership and teams

Block 4: Going global

  • Learning Guide 14: Global public health and governance
  • Learning Guide 15: Factors influencing global public health
  • Learning Guide 16: Policy making for better health
  • Learning Guide 17: Public health in the 21st century

The module is mapped against the current United Kingdom Public Health Register (UKPHR) public-health competencies where appropriate. On successful completion, you can be awarded our Graduate Certificate in Public health (S06).

1Acheson, 1988; WHO

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, such as completing the modules below:

  • either K102 or SDK100, and K118; and
  • either K243 or KE206, or SK299 and SK298, and K219

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.

What's included

You'll have a module text book - Health Promotion: Global Principles and Practice - and access to a module website, which is the focal point of your study, and includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific module materials
  • audio and video content
  • assessment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access
  • forum to discuss the module with fellow students and the module teaching team.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11), or macOS (11 'Big Sur' or higher).

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop as described above.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout your module studies, you’ll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They’ll help you by:

  • marking your assignments (TMAs) and providing detailed feedback for you to improve
  • guiding you to additional learning resources
  • providing individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills or specific module content
  • facilitating online discussions between your fellow students, in the dedicated module and tutor group forums.

Module tutors also run online tutorials throughout the module. Where possible, recordings of online tutorials will be made available to students. While these tutorials won’t be compulsory for you to complete the module, you’re strongly encouraged to take part.

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 K310 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

Public health: health promotion and health security starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2023. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2029.

Course work includes:

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
1 Interactive computer-marked assignment (iCMA)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school