‘We are healthier today than previous generations because of public health’. Discuss.

Setting the Scene
By the end of Week 7 you will be required to submit the first summative assessment for the course – a
3000-word essay – therefore we want to offer you detailed guidance to ensure you are fully aware of
what is required, and that you approach the essay so that it meets the academic requirements at
postgraduate level. Beyond this essay, we want to ensure that the principles of good academic
writing become embedded in how you approach future assessments. These principles should be
known to you as you progress through the course.
It is very important to see the assessment as a positive part of your academic experience and as an
opportunity to consolidate your learning and apply it to new scenarios. At the same time, it should
also be an informed process in the sense that assessments are set in relation to clear academic
benchmarks, learning objectives and learning outcomes. Therefore, the brief, guidelines and marking
criteria are never random and are designed to demonstrate well-defined parameters.
Right and Wrong
We do not, here, in this more detailed guidance, give you ‘an answer’ or ‘tell you what or how you
should write’. While there are several models guiding the structure of academic writing, the nature of
the questions we ask in the coursework, largely, do not have a prescribed or definite answer or way of
answering the questions.
This degree of academic freedom can make the coursework feel overwhelming. However, the lack of
a definite answer doesn’t mean that there are no criteria upon which judgements can be made about
how well or otherwise you have answered the question. It is essential that you are familiar with the
postgraduate marking criteria and that you read any guidance that is provided for each assessment
very carefully.
It is also very useful to reflect upon the feedback from your formative assessments and to make a
conscious effort to gradually improve your academic writing as you complete tasks and assessments.
So, although we won’t tell you what to write, we can tell you what makes a good answer and what
constitutes a poor answer – have a look at the marking criteria to remind yourself how this judgement
is being made, and develop your work with reference to this criteria.
Extrapolating the Learning Opportunity
You may not feel like it, but such academic freedom and level of ’obscurity’ really is an opportunity for
you to demonstrate and develop your understanding of the subject matter according to academic
skills at postgraduate level. The lessons in this module should serve as a foundation or springboard
upon which you apply your understanding and begin to critique what has been presented in reference
to a specific context. In other words, you are expected to develop your own critical, yet well-informed,
position over the subject matter.
7MRHPH01 Public Health Principles and Practices: The summative essay: Embedding a positive and informed approach (24.10.19)
Managing your study time
You should:
– Read beyond what is covered in the lessons to develop both broader and deeper knowledge
of the subject area that will inform your position/argument.
– Be judicious in your selection of what material is relevant to the question being asked.
– Based on your reading and critical analysis of the taught material, as well as your own
exploration and reading around the subject area, develop and present your own, wellinformed insight, reflections and views that critique what is written, be it in policy, theory or
We recognize that this is no easy task and one that will not be achieved in a single draft or within a
couple of hours. So, you also need to
– Ensure you have enough time to read carefully and make well referenced notes as you read.
– Create an essay plan which you can add to and edit as you expand your reading.
– Use the plan as the basis for writing the essay
– Ensure that you allow sufficient time to review and edit (i.e. for additional drafts, checking
references and addressing potential concerns about plagiarism, and to ensure you observe the
word count).
Being Professional
• A beautifully presented text with many of references does not guarantee you will pass the
assessment. Nevertheless, the presentation and formatting is an important part of academic
work and it often demonstrates diligence and thoroughness, and it makes the reading of your
work more inviting to read. It is essential that your work is has been proofread, has a cover
sheet, and that it is cited and referenced exactly according to the required convention. For
example, if you’re advised to use 1 ½ line spacing, make sure that you do – it signals attention
to details and a rigorous attitude, and will be noticed by the marker of your work.
• Before you start writing your essay, review your understanding of the etiquette for writing
essays and revise the required referencing system.
• Studying at Masters level is a challenging journey that requires careful time planning,
dedication, thoroughness and resilience, but once you adopt a suitable study strategy and as
you develop the required academic skills, you will be able to engage with fascinating learning
material and express your views clearly and convincingly.
• The formative assessments are an opportunity to get these bits right – use the feedback to
develop your understanding.
• If there’s a problem, let us know as early as you can but be aware of the academic regulations
about what is and isn’t possible.
Essay Title • Remember that this is the question that your essay and argument should
address. Don’t make up your own question and ensure that your title
reflects the brief.
• Try to identify key words to ensure you highlight relevant issues.
7MRHPH01 Public Health Principles and Practices: The summative essay: Embedding a positive and informed approach (24.10.19)
Introduction • The introduction should be concise and signpost the reader regarding the
purpose of the essay and how the question will be addressed.
• It should set the scene for the discussion by providing contextual
information. Remember that the reader may have no knowledge of the
subject area and the ‘problem’ being addressed.
• This is your opportunity to identify parameters to frame your answer (for
example, country/setting, population, time period) so that the reader is
introduced to the problem to be discussed in the main body of your essay
and is able to follow you proceeding discussion and argument.
• There are no right or wrong parameters. The introduction should enable
you to focus your answer and ensure that you address the assignment brief.
• ‘We are healthier today than previous generations because of public health’.
You will need to define ‘we’ and identify parameters comparing populations
over generations.
For example, you could look at generations
– from a low income and high-income population perspective
– within a specific country from a historical perspective
– from a gender perspective.
• The scope of public health is vast – so you do not want to tell us everything
you’ve learnt about public health. Rather, given the parameters you’ve
identified, consider what is relevant to your own argument.
• Try to attain a balance between breadth of areas related to public health
and depth – whereby you can provide some analysis, grounded in
data/research/theory as to whether they support or refute the essay
• Equally remember that the relationship being examined is between the
presence of public health and being healthier – so consider looking at how
you have interpreted being ‘healthier’.
• You are not writing an overview. You are expected to develop a clear and
well-informed argument that will answer the question in the brief.
Describing events and presenting epidemiological data are important but
are not enough at this stage. You are expected to develop a clear argument
that is grounded in public health knowledge.
• Your essay should maintain clear focus and direction, and it should always
maintain clear link with the assignment brief.
• To contain the wealth of public health information and to avoid writing
‘sideways’ (i.e. to avoid adding more and more information without getting
to the point) consider identifying a public health model or framework that
will help you examine the question according to clear frame of reference.
• If you use a public health model to guide your work, describing such
theories or models is not enough. You should demonstrate how this model
correlates with public health data and how it leads you to answer the
7MRHPH01 Public Health Principles and Practices: The summative essay: Embedding a positive and informed approach (24.10.19)
Body of the
• Having defined your parameters and signposted to the reader what will be
discussed in your essay, you can begin to provide the detail.
• Ideally, you will have constructed an essay plan so you know what the key
issues are that you will consider in the essay. Remember you will not obtain
marks for the quantity of points you raise, but rather for the quality of
evidence and for your ability develop reasoned argument to support or
refute the question posed in the assignment brief.
• Use your essay plan to ensure that there is a coherent narrative with
respect to the points you want to make, so that arguments flow from one
point to another. This will avoid repetition and enable you to develop the
depth of your argument.
• Be wary of simplistic assertions or assumed reader knowledge. Again don’t
just describe things and give definitions – tell the reader what these
concepts/events/areas of practice signify in relation to the question being
• Where possible try to support your assertions or claims with reference to
evidence but don’t assume it to be self-explanatory – provide some analysis.
As you progress through the course you will see that the same data can be
used to support or refute a position – so report on your analysis of it.
• Part of your analysis of the data or theory may be a critique of its credibility
and universal application. So, think about the source of the evidence you
employ as well as the quality of the evidence itself.
Conclusion • Your conclusion should summarise the points you have made in the essay
and not refer to any new points. Having summarised the points, you should
communicate to the reader what your position is in relation to the question.
• You may, at this point, remind the reader of the parameters of your essay
and the analytical framework(s)/model(s) that guided your analysis and
therefore the specific focus of your arguments and its potential limitations.
• In essence, you will be reassuring the reader that you know there are
different perspectives and views over the studied question and the issue is
complex, however, your answer sits within the specific context you have

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