Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

POPLHLTH 725 - Environmental Health

15 Points 

Semester 2



Explores ways in which the environment affects human health. Studies links between industrial and agricultural development, environmental change and public health at local, national and global levels. Topics include the role of policies, legislation and public health actions in reducing environmental health risks.

Programme and course advice

This course may be taken as part of a general pathway or as part of the environmental health pathway towards a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health and is a required course for the Postgraduate Certificate in Public Health in the specialisation Environmental Health. It is also an optional course for the BHSc Honours programme.

The course is suitable for any student with an interest in environmental health, and students are encouraged from related programmes in Environmental Science, Environmental Management, Geography and Planning.

Course aims

Content outline

The course introduces theories and histories of environmental health, links environmental sustainability and human health, introduces a Māori perspective to environments and wellbeing, discusses environmental health policy and legal mechanisms in a national and international context; introduces cities as an ecosystem (linking the built environment, transport, housing and green space to human health); and focuses on climate change as one of the most important and challenging environmental health challenges facing us today.

Goals of the course

The goal of the course is to describe the principles and practice of environmental health, in New Zealand, in the Pacific and internationally.

Learning outcomes 

By the conclusion of the course our objectives are for each participant to:

  • Be able to describe the historical development of environmental health
  • Be familiar with research methods most commonly used in environmental health
  • Be able to describe approaches to environmental health for Māri wellbeing
  • Be able to discuss, in broad terms, national and international legislation governing environmental issues
  • Know in detail about a number of significant national and international environmental health issues including those relating to transport, housing, energy and climate change.

Participants will have acquired skills in:

  • Description and analysis of environmental health issues and policy interventions
  • Analysis of uncomplicated data linking environment and health
  • Writing about environmental health issues

Participants will also have an appreciation of:

  • The importance of social, cultural and political factors in environmental health
  • The values which underlie past and current public health practice in relation to environmental health
  • The importance of the Treaty of Waitangi to environmental health issues in New Zealand
  • Intersectoral approaches to improving environmental health
  • The importance of participation of communities in environmental health decision-making

Learning and teaching

The course will consist of approximately 24 contact hours in four block teaching days at the School of Population Health, Tamaki Campus. Block days comprise:

  • Lectures
  • Student-led discussion sessions
  • Presentations by guest speakers, experts in their field
  • Use of video and other media
  • Exercises

Campus teaching dates

This course is held at Tāmaki Campus. Please see your timetable on SSO or Building 730 Reception noticeboard on the day for the room details.


Assessment for the course is 100% coursework.

  • Assignment 1 (academic essay): 35%
  • Assignment 2 (policy analysis): 35%
  • Assignment 3 (newspaper opinion): 25%
  • In-class assessments (presentations): 5%

Students must complete all assessments and obtain a minimum overall mark of 50% in order to obtain a pass in POPLHLTH 725.

Learning resources

Course readings and resources will be posted on the University intranet system for teaching and learning (CANVAS), to enable students to access most resources online. There you will find required and recommended readings from journals and textbooks as well as other useful resources. There is no text that covers all the material for this course; however, a useful source is:

Frumkin, H (ed), Environmental Health. From Global to Local. 2nd edition. John Wiley & Sons, 2010. This is available as an e-book through the University library, as well as on desk copy at Tamaki Campus library.

Further recommended texts (readings will be drawn from these) for this paper are:

Dart P, Jarosinska D, Hoogeveen Y (eds). Environment and human health – Joint EEA-JRC report (EEA report no 5/2013). European Environment Agency. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2013. Available at www.eea.europa.eu/publications/environment-and-human-health

Cromar, N., Cameron, S., Fallowfield, H., (eds.), Environmental Health in Australia and New Zealand, Oxford University Press, 2004.

Course Coordinator

Course Administrator