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 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. 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 and individual assignments.

Term Offered: Term 2

Prince Adu


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 1, Term 2

Eva Oberle (September Term 1) – Syllabus

Martin Guhn (January Term 2) – Syllabus

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)
The World Health Organization defines environmental health as “those aspects of human
health, including quality of life, that are determined by physical, chemical, biological, social, and psychosocial factors in the environment.” This course will introduce students from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds to the field of environmental health. Topics covered will include 1) harmful environmental exposures in water, air, and food (e.g., air pollution, pesticides); 2) aspects of the environment that are beneficial for health (e.g., urban forests, walkable neighbourhoods), and 3) emerging environmental health threats (e.g., climate change, global environmental change). This course will also provide an overview of tools that are used to generate information about the relationship between the environment and health (e.g., epidemiology, risk assessment) and how this information informs public health policy and practice. Students will also have the opportunity to engage more deeply on a particular
environmental health topic of their choosing.
Term Offered: Term 1Instructor:
Kate Weinberger
Selected Topics:  Canadian Health Policy

This course is about the Canadian health care system and the political and economic forces that have shaped it. It is for anyone, regardless of academic or professional background, interested in the intersection of health care and public policy in Canada.

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:  Distributed Health Research Methods (DHRM) (3)

Distributed Health Research Methods (DHRM) course provides an introductory overview to health research, and is intended for learners who plan to pursue careers in medicine or other health professions, and/or learners who might apply for a health related graduate degree.  DHRM introduces epidemiology and evidence-based healthcare, literature searching, formulating research questions, qualitative and quantitative methods, research with Indigenous Peoples, program evaluation, survey design, interdisciplinary art methods, community based participatory health research and research ethics review.  DHRM also introduces learners to inter-professional, collaborative, culturally safe and ethical modes of health research engagement.

DHRM is a high-level 4th year undergraduate course, open to all learners with an interest in health research. There are no specific pre-requisites for this course. Learners will be accepted into DHRM if they have satisfied the requirements to enter a 4th year undergraduate course within their own discipline. DHRM is also open to graduate learners of various disciplines, with permission of the Course Instructor.

 Term Offered: Term 2

Dr. Ruth Elwood Martin