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Study Public Health at Otago

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.

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Why study Public Health?

Career opportunities

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

BHealSc student Rachel Ngan KeeRachel 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.”

Public Health at Otago

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
BHealSc Student

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.

These include:

  • 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

Postgraduate programme

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.


Public Health as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BSc, BCom, BEntr, 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 Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Entrepreneurship (BEntr), 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


POPH 192 Population Health  or  PUBH 192 Foundations of Epidemiology



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.


Total 90

Note: This minor subject is not available to students majoring in Pacific and Global Health.

PUBH papers

Paper Code Year Title Points Teaching period
POPH192 2024 Population Health 18 Semester 2
PUBH192 2024 Foundations of Epidemiology 18 Not offered in 2024
PUBH202 2024 Health Promotion 18 Semester 2
PUBH203 2024 Health Policy and Politics: Global and Local 18 Semester 1
PUBH204 2024 Hauora Māori: Challenges and Opportunities 18 Semester 2
PUBH211 2024 Epidemiology of Global Health Conditions 18 Semester 1
PUBH303 2024 Public and Global Health: Current Issues 18 Semester 2
PUBH304 2024 Rangahau Hauora Māori - Māori Health Research 18 Semester 1
PUBH311 2024 Public Health Research 18 Semester 1
PUBH711 2024 Principles of Epidemiology 15 1st Non standard period
PUBH712 2024 Foundations of Hauora Māori 15 1st Non standard period
PUBH713 2024 Society, Health and Health Promotion 15 1st Non standard period
PUBH714 2024 Public Policy and Health Systems 15 1st Non standard period
PUBH721 2024 Methods for Epidemiological Research 15 1st Non standard period
PUBH723 2024 Survey Methods 15 1st Non standard period
PUBH724 2024 Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods 15 1st Non standard period
PUBH725 2024 Applied Biostatistics 1 - Fundamentals 15 1st Non standard period
PUBH726 2024 Applied Biostatistics 2 - Regression methods 15 1st Non standard period
PUBH732 2024 Using Epidemiology in Public Health Practice 15 1st Non standard period
PUBH733 2024 Environment and Health 15 1st Non standard period
PUBH734 2024 Health Protection 15 1st Non standard period
PUBH735 2024 The Economics of Health Policy Decision Making 15 1st Non standard period
PUBH736 2024 Economic Evaluation 15 1st Non standard period
PUBH737 2024 Public Health Law and Public Health Ethics - Fundamentals 15 Not offered in 2024
PUBH738 2024 Global Health Law and Global Health Ethics 15 Not offered in 2024
PUBH739 2024 Special Topic 15 Not offered in 2024
PUBH740 2024 Special Topic: One Health 15 Not offered in 2024
PUBH741 2024 Hauora Māori- Policy Practice and Research 15 1st Non standard period
PUBH742 2024 Global Health and International Health Systems 15 1st Non standard period
PUBH743 2024 Health Promotion Programme Planning and Evaluation 15 1st Non standard period
PUBH744 2024 Healthy Public Policy 15 1st Non standard period
PUBH745 2024 Introduction to Pacific Public Health 15 1st Non standard period
PUBH890 2024 MPH Dissertation 60 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period, 3rd Non standard period, 4th Non standard period

More information

Contact us

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:

Tel +64 3 479 7202

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


Postgraduate Co-ordinator
Department of Public Health
University of Otago, Wellington

Studying at Otago

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Regulations on this page are taken from the 2024 Calendar and supplementary material.

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