SPPH Undergraduate Courses


The School of Population and Public Health is pleased to offer the following undergraduate courses, which provide an introduction to some of the foundational principles, ideas, and skills, of population and public health.

In these courses, students:

  • can gain an understanding of patterns and causes of health and disease in different populations, as well as strategies to improve the health of populations, including prevention, treatment, and policy options.
  • will engage students in the broader social contexts of these subjects, in which questions of equity and ethics often rise to the forefront.
  • can gain insight into the healthcare system to pursue careers in clinical roles, such as medicine, nursing, and physiotherapy
  • will be prepared for further study in the area of population and public health, especially for those who wish to pursue careers that involve research in these areas

If you have questions about a specific course, please contact the instructor. For general questions about SPPH undergraduate course offerings, please contact the Director of Undergraduate Curriculum, Dr. Daniel Steel (daniel.steel@ubc.ca).

NOTE: Syllabi for all courses are updated as we receive them from the instructors. Please refer to past syllabi for content reference, but understand that room location and times (for example), may be subject to change. If you do not see a course syllabus here, please contact the course instructor directly for more information.

Not all courses listed here are offered every year. Please visit our online schedules (links provided below) to see which courses are currently being offered.


SPPH 301 (previously SPPH 200)
Understanding the Sociocultural Determinants of the Health of Populations (3)

This course reveals how the conditions in which we live and work can affect our health. Key concepts of social determinants of health in the population that are discussed include: poverty, economic resources, education, policy, neighbourhood conditions, early child development, and access to housing. This is an interactive and thought-provoking course that challenges traditional views on health and disease and allows students to reflect on their own experiences and backgrounds.

Term Offered: Term One, Term Two

Eva Oberle (September Term 1) – Syllabus

Martin Guhn (January Term 2) – Syllabus

SPPH 300
Working in International Health (3)

SPPH 300 (Working in International Health) is a course on planning/preparing for work in low and middle income countries, concentrating on principles to guide ethical global health. In illustrating these principles, the course engages with basic information on the global burden of disease, its drivers and determinants, and interventions to improve health equity internationally. Health Science background is not essential. The course is restricted to Undergraduate students. SPPH 300 is designed to inspire and inform learners about working in global health. The course will predominantly be conducted with online didactic knowledge transfer and online interactivity with peers, the TAs, and the professors. However, there will also be 3 face-to-face sessions (Dates TBC). Students will (with guidance) be expected to work in a cluster of students aggregated around similar interests to outline a particular project, from which they will apply the principles (inclusion, humility, attention to root causes, authentic partnerships, shared benefits and sustainability.) Grades will be based on a combination of the group work, presentations at the face-to-face sessions, individual assignments and final examination.

Term Offered: Term 2

Jerry Spiegel and Annalee Yassi


SPPH 302
Topics in Health Informatics for Health/Life Sciences Students (3)

This course will help future and current researchers, developers and health professionals understand how to integrate technology and best practices in both clinical and educational contexts.

Term Offered: Term 1

Dr. Larry Frisch


SPPH 381A (formerly 481B)
Selected Topics:  Public Health Ethics (3)

This course addresses ethical issues related to health at a population or community level and interventions undertaken by governments or other social organizations to promote it.

Term Offered: Term 2

Daniel Steele


Selected Topics:  Gender and Health (3)

How can everyone on the gender spectrum experience positive mental and physical health? Gender is a vital determinant of health, and in this course we explore health status issues faced by those who identify as women, men and gender-diverse people. Emphasizing self-care and sustainability, we will envision and practice wellness for all. We’ll focus on improving health for people and ecosystems through a gendered lens that sheds light on environmental, economic and social justice. This interdisciplinary public health course thus highlights micro and macro aspects of health promotion and disease prevention. Applying active learning practices that integrate wellness activities, reflection, small group learning, motion, lecturettes, and other techniques, students will engage with each other and the course material in educationally innovative ways. Come one, come all!


Term Offered: Term 1

Farah Shroff

Selected Topics:  Environmental Impacts on Human Health (3)

This course builds upon the concept of ecological public health to cover environmental factors as determinants of health of individuals and populations. It will take an integrative approach to how our surrounding environment influences various domains of health and wellbeing, covering local, regional and global health contexts. Scientific theories on the environment’s impact on human health will be outlined. Biological mechanisms and pathways will be explained together with contextual mediators. The focus is on health protection and promotion as well as disease prevention. Both hazardous environmental conditions and environmental “good” will be discussed in terms of exposure or experience and how this can affect human biological systems and modify health and wellbeing. This will be considered in a social and economic context, including aspects of environmental justice, health inequalities, and community health. Exposures to chemical, biological and physical hazards in air, water, food and consumer products are considered along with current public health challenges related to urbanization, climate change, and sustainability. The course will elaborate on potential solutions to these challenges through incorporation of ecological principles in public health policy and practice.

Term Offered: Term 1

Matilda van den Bosch



Selected Topics:  Canadian Health Policy

Course info TBD.

Term Offered: Term 1

Steve Morgan, PhD


SPPH 410
Improving Public Health: An Interprofessional Approach to Designing and Implementing Effective Interventions (3)

By collaborating interprofessionally, each student team will identify and research a critical public health issue, and develop a detailed practical and effective intervention. Restricted to Undergraduate students.

Term Offered: Term 2 (Previously offered in a traditional face-to-face format, this course is now delivered in mixed format).

Dr. David Birnbaum


Special Topics in Population and Public Health:  Prison Health (3)

Prison Health (PH) aims to educate students from a variety of disciplines to respond to current health issues within the Canadian correctional system. Through readings, guest presentations and class discussions, students will learn about the complexities of prison health and will gain understanding and skills in order to apply interdisciplinary approaches to prison health care.

Term Offered: Term 2

Dr. Ruth Elwood Martin & Dr. Leeann Donnelly


Summer 2019
No course(s) were found for S2019 term. Winter 2019
No SPPH course(s) were found for W2019 term.Winter 2019
No SPPH course(s) were found for W2019 term.