Public Health Sciences Courses

By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What is Public Health?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines Public Health science as “the art and science of preventing disease, prolonging health through the organized efforts of society.”

Public Health Science is the study of preventing disease, increasing the longevity of life and promoting health through efforts and choices made by society, public and private organizations, the community and by individuals.

Public Health Science deals with dangers to the public health of a population, whether small or large (i.e. populations of a continent) to improve the quality of health and the quality of life in through detecting and preventing disease and other physical and mental health conditions, promoting health behaviours, tracking cases and health indicators.

Public health students develop the critical thinking and analysis skills necessary to confront issues such as low vaccination rates, foodborne diseases and drug overdoses.

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering Public Health Sciences courses in the following subject areas:

  • MSc in Public Health Nutrition – The development of knowledge, skills and competencies, specific to the practice of Public Health Nutrition.
  • Environmental Control and Public Health – Gain an understanding of environmental and pollution management.
  • Promoting Public Health: Skills, Perspectives and Practice – Challenge your own assumptions around public health promotion policies and interventions, and gain the knowledge and confidence to move your everyday actions and practice forward.
  • MSc in Science and Health Communication – A study of the best methods to communicate scientific information effectively to the many different groups within society.
  • Health Care Support – The Healthcare Support Course is designed to give those wishing to work in the healthcare system a thorough grounding in the necessary skills.
  • Mental Health – This course covers topics such as stress, phobias, anxiety, eating disorders, and schizophrenia among others.
  • Health Promotion – Gain the knowledge, skill and competence to raise community awareness of health related issues, holistic approaches to health and to establish and evaluate health promotion programmes
  • Community Health/Pre-Paramedic Course – This is a Pre-Paramedic course for those who wish to work in either the fire service or ambulance service.
  • BSc (Hons) In Mental Health Nursing – Develop the professional knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to meet the nursing needs of individuals experiencing a range of mental health feelings, problems and conflicts.
  • BSc (Hons) in Health and Physical Activity – Gain the skills necessary to assess, plan, promote and evaluate lifestyle interventions and physical activity courses that will enhance the quality of life of individuals.

Studying Public Health Sciences in college

There are many Public Health Sciences courses that take place over 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials and taught modules. Assessments will take place on a continuous basis with written examinations and practical assignments combined in order to achieve a qualification. You could also consider work experience or volunteering to help in positions with your local authorities.

Work Experience will not only give you the opportunity to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future

Career options

After completing a course in Public Health Sciences you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of health care and social sciences.

Choosing a career in Public Health Science will certainly allow individuals a pathway into a variety of careers with salaries ranging from average to well above average the national averages, depending on the career and the degree achieved.

You may work in many areas of the industry, or choose to specialise in one particular area, such as environmental protection, food safety and food standards, health within the armed services, housing, noise control, occupational health and safety, pollution control, public health or waste management.

You may also pursue a career as an educator to design and implement effective health education programs in the community. Other careers choices are in research of specific health issues that affect communities to create effective strategies to deal with them.

Working hours will depend on whether you are employed by a company with set business hours or if you are contracted to various facilities or companies. The hours are usually full time, Monday to Friday. However, given the nature of the industry and depending on your position, evening or weekend work may be necessary at times.

The work is diverse and varied. In some cases, work may be stressful and confrontational, sometimes requiring police help, especially when enforcing regulations. Working conditions may occasionally be dirty and unpleasant, e.g. when inspecting unclean or unsafe buildings, and site visits can be conducted in all weathers.

Related jobs include:

  • Environmental health practitioner
  • Epidemiologist
  • Health and safety adviser
  • Health improvement practitioner
  • Health visitor
  • Nutritionist
  • Occupational hygienist
  • Community development worker
  • Education mental health practitioner
  • Further education teacher
  • Health service manager
  • Medical sales representative
  • Naturopath
  • Adult nurse
  • Anatomical pathology technologist
  • Counsellor
  • Dental hygienist
  • Dental technician
  • Dental therapist
  • Occupational therapist
  • Personal trainer
  • Physician associate
  • Special educational needs coordinator
  • Social worker
  • Youth worker

Further study

After completing a course in Public Health Sciences you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skillset. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practise in certain career areas such as Environmental Health, Food Science, Healthcare, Social Work or Counselling.


Why is Public Health Sciences important?

Public health aims to improve the wellbeing of society as a whole and prevent illness – in contrast to hospital doctors, GPs and nurses who primarily look after individual patients on a case-by-case basis.

There are three main areas of public health:

  • Health protection – working to prevent the outbreak of epidemics, plan responses to emergencies, or in food safety.
  • Health improvement – campaigns to encourage healthier eating, physical exercise, or to persuade people to quit smoking and drugs.
  • Healthcare public health – making sure that everyone has access to high-quality health services and medicines that they need, when they need them.

Where can I study Public Health Sciences?

Explore your options here

Did You Know?

  • The word “muscle” comes from the Latin term meaning “little mouse.“ It’s said that Ancient Romans thought that’s what flexed bicep muscles resembled.
  • Nurses make up the largest single component of hospital staff and are the primary providers of hospital patient care.
  • Occupational therapy techniques date back to 100 BC, when a Greek physician named Asclepiades used OT techniques to treat mental illness.
  • Physical therapy began in response to WWI. In the army, ‘reconstruction aides’ (aka nurses) were responsible for providing rehab to wounded soldiers using both physical and occupational therapy.
  • The adult human body consists of 206 bones. Of these bones, 106 of them are located in our hands and feet. Bones in the arms are among the most commonly broken bones and account for almost half of all adults’ bone injuries.

Mariza Halliday

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