Make a difference through collective action for a healthier world and Aotearoa.
The University of Otago’s expertise in public health is nationally and internationally recognised.
Learn from inspirational teachers and explore aspects that influence health and health equity, such as housing, climate change, wealth distribution, policies, systems and power, and public health responses to them.
Public health is a diverse and vital area. Issues that influence public health are often changing and knowledge is constantly evolving.
Apply for the Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHealSc) through the Dunedin campus in 2021Apply Now
Apply for the Master of Public Health (MPH)Apply Now
Apply for the Postgraduate Certificate in Public Health (PGCertPH)Apply Now
- Apply for the Postgraduate Certificate in Public Health (PGCertPH) through the Christchurch campus in 2021
- Apply for the Postgraduate Certificate in Public Health (PGCertPH) through the Dunedin campus in 2021
- Apply for the Postgraduate Certificate in Public Health (PGCertPH) through the Wellington campus in 2021
Apply for the Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health (DPH)Apply Now
Healthier environments, people, and communities
“This degree teaches you to consider all the elements affecting health and disease; from policy to personal choices … this degree is a springboard for change.”
— Rachel Ngan Kee
With a focus on the health of populations and communities, public health looks at how we can prevent and control diseases, prolong life, and promote health.
Public Health involves collective action across sectors and disciplines with a strong focus on reducing ethnic and socioeconomic inequities in health.
You can study Public Health as a major in the three year Bachelor of Health Sciences degree (BHealSc) or as a minor subject in a Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSc), Arts (BA), Arts and Science (BASc), Commerce (BCom), Performing Arts (BPA), Science (BSc), or Theology (BTheol) degree.
Make a difference in a rewarding career
New approaches are required as we face diverse and important health challenges.
- An increase in the number of older adults and people living with long-term conditions and disability
- Multiple inequities in health determinants and outcomes
- Limited health resources
- Environmental change and its many effects on health
Graduates majoring in Public Health will have the knowledge and skills to work in a range of areas in the wider health sector, including government and non-government organisations in areas such as hauora Māori, health policy, and health promotion.
Graduates will have the power to change lives by advocating for healthy environments and populations.
Student profile – Rachel Ngan Kee
Rachel Ngan Kee chose to major in Public Health after enjoying a paper in the subject during Health Sciences First Year (HSFY).
“In hindsight, I had no idea what Public Health entailed but I’m grateful I accidentally found it. Public Health puts a community and context-focused lens on health, which is a refreshing change from other sciences (especially HSFY).
“I think questioning the context of disease is a huge part of prevention and cure. This degree teaches you to consider all the elements affecting health and disease; from policy to personal choices.
Rachel says the classes are inspiring and have changed the way she views society.
“I now have an inherent interest in politics, current events and international news because I know they all affect health in some way. I think having peers and lecturers share their experiences in the health system has opened my eyes to areas that need change in Aotearoa.
“I assumed that all of university would be like HSFY, where you show up to a class with hundreds of other students not really knowing your lecturer or each other and then leaving. But it’s more like a school classroom, where you know everyone in the class and your lecturers make a real effort to know you.
“I think it’s necessary to have a broad understanding of health because it means that when you approach patients or community members you are open to hearing their stories and tailoring their care appropriately. I think patient and community voice is ignored too much in the current health system, and this degree is a springboard for change.”
The University of Otago also a great postgraduate public health programme at our Christchurch, Dunedin, and Wellington campuses. So if you are interested in furthering your study, this is a great option.
The Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health (DPH) is designed to develop public health skills at the postgraduate level. Candidates are required to hold a degree or to have appropriate professional qualifications and experience.
This programme is taught as an internal (on campus) programme at Otago Medical School’s three campuses: Christchurch, Dunedin, and Wellington. It consists of eight 15-point papers, four of which are compulsory and four others selected from sixteen options.
Candidates for the degree of MPH will have completed the DPH, or an equivalent qualification, at an acceptable level of attainment. The course of study will consist of either a thesis, or four DPH papers (not already completed) plus a dissertation.
View further information on postgraduate studies in Public Health.
Explore your study options further. Refer to enrolment information found on the following qualification pages:
- Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHealSc)
- Postgraduate Certificate in Public Health (PGCertPH)
- Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health (DPH)
- Master of Public Health (MPH)
Please note: The Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHealSc) is not the same as Health Sciences First Year (HSFY).
Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHealSc) majoring in Public Health
HUBS 191 Human Body Systems 1
HUBS 192 Human Body Systems 2
PUBH 202 Health Promotion
PUBH 204 Hauora Māori: Challenges and Opportunities
PUBH 211 Epidemiology of Global Health Conditions
at least three of
PUBH 303 Public and Global Health: Current Issues
at least two of
126 further points
The following papers are suggested: BSNS 113, EDUC 105, ECON 112, HIST 107, MAOR 102, MAOR 110, PACI 103, PHIL 105, SOWK 111, STAT 115; ECON 201, HIST 223, MAOH 201, MAOR 202, MAOR 204, MFCO 222, POLS 202, PSME 201, STAT 210, SPEX 205, SPEX 206, STAT 241; ECON 306, ENVI 312, HIST 306, INDV 301, POLS 303, STAT 310
Minor subject requirements
Public Health as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BSc, BAppSc, BCom, BHealSc, BACom, BASc or BComSc degree
Available as a minor subject for a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Music (MusB), Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA), Bachelor of Theology (BTheol), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHealSc), Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom), Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) or Bachelor of Commerce and Science (BComSc) degree
PUBH 211 Epidemiology of Global Health Conditions
PUBH 303 Public and Global Health: Current Issues*
Two further 200- or 300-level PUBH papers
Note: Students who first enrolled for this minor in or before 2017 may complete the requirements for this minor by passing the following papers: PUBH 192, 202, 203, 211, 311.
Note: This minor subject is not available to students majoring in Pacific and Global Health.
Key information for future students
Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHealSc) contact details
Contact your local schools’ liaison officer if you're currently at secondary shool.
Or contact the Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHealSc) team:
Postgraduate contact details
Postgraduate Programme Administrator
Department of Population Health
University of Otago, Christchurch
Public Health Postgraduate Programme Administrator
Department of Preventive and Social Medicine
Otago Medical School – Dunedin Campus
Department of Public Health
University of Otago, Wellington