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Unit information: Contemporary Debates in Lifestyle Behaviours and Public Health in 2021/22

Unit name Contemporary Debates in Lifestyle Behaviours and Public Health
Unit code SPOLM0018
Credit points 15
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Li
Open unit status Not open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

Facilitating a change in health behaviours across the life span is a priority, particularly among those for whom clusters of poor lifestyle are common. It is becoming apparent that, in some cases, multidisciplinary research is not sufficient to address—in a comprehensive and effective way—challenging and complex issues within health and well-being research and/or application. Rather, interdisciplinary research is required to tackle these more complex and challenging issues. Interdisciplinary research does not merely result in new technical approaches, but rather new intellectual approaches (viz., new ways to conceptualize and think about a ‘real world’ challenges to health and well-being). Students will explore how the complexity of contemporary health and well-being research problems require researchers to move beyond the confines of their individual disciplines and work as part of interdisciplinary teams in which skills and disciplines are combined in a coordinated manner to stimulate new ways of addressing and tacking problems. Students will be exposed to the different stages of the interdisciplinary research process, ranging from an open-ended preliminary research phase through to how the research is carried out in practice. Examples of good and poor practice will be discussed and a wide range of topics discussed (e.g., why an interdisciplinary approach is needed, which disciplines should be involved, the personality and attributes required by researchers, involvement of end users/stakeholders, and challenges with contingency plans). Students will be presented with contemporary ‘real world’ problems and will be challenged to take an interdisciplinary approach. Via various teaching approaches (e.g., critical discussion and group debates, problem-based learning, case studies), students will work through problems adopting an interdisciplinary approach to develop constructive solutions. The unit will be team taught by colleagues from the Department for Health (Bath), Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences (Bristol), and Sport and Health Sciences (Exeter).

Unit aims:

To explore how theory, knowledge, concepts, methodology, and skills from distinct disciplines can be integrated in a co-ordinated manner to coherently address important issues, problems and challenges to health and well-being.

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of the unit students should have:

  • a critical understanding of both the challenges to, and the constructive and innovative contributions of, interdisciplinary research to knowledge and practice.
  • a deepened interdisciplinary understanding of the links between social, biological and environmental factors and health behaviours, choices, and outcomes of individuals, groups, and societies.
  • an awareness of key competencies and processes needed by interdisciplinary researchers in planning, designing, implementing and evaluating interventions and strategies targeted at improving lifestyle-related health behaviours.
  • a critical understanding of the skills and processes required to translate interdisciplinary scientific research into practical strategies targeted at enhancing health and well-being.
  • a better understanding of the relevance and benefits to research and practice of engaging with a range of public health stakeholders.

Teaching Information

The unit will be delivered over 3 days through a combination of asynchronous lectures, guided reading, synchronous/on campus small group sessions and cross-university workshops. Individual feedback will be provided during small group sessions in each afternoon to support prepareation for formative and summative assignments.

Assessment Information

One coursework of 4,000 words on a topic agreed with the Unit Convenor


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. SPOLM0018).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.