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Unit information: Health Policy in a Global Context (SPS) in 2020/21

Unit name Health Policy in a Global Context (SPS)
Unit code SPOL20061
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Dodds
Open unit status Not open




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


This unit explores measures of health in an international context and the limitations of such measures, including global patterns in life expectancy, mortality and morbidity, and key factors involved in the global distribution of health. The focus is on differences between and within countries using various demographic and socio-economic measures. The unit then examines relationships between health and policy, focusing on formal and informal health systems, the role of social, economic and political influences on health policy, and the impact of globalisation and global restructuring on health policy. We look at aspects of global health governance and the impact of transnational companies on health. The unit concludes with an examination of various theoretical frameworks to explain the persistence of global health inequality, the role and relevance of different intergovernmental and transnational actors, and the limitations of global health governance.

Intended learning outcomes

Students are expected to develop an understanding of:

  1. the meaning of global health policy and the various ways in which health services are delivered around the world
  2. the meaning of global health governance and the role of various global organisations in shaping health experience
  3. the relationship between changing patterns of health and illness and wider processes of global restructuring
  4. the major determinants shaping health care in different parts of the world
  5. different theoretical perspectives in discussion and critique of global health and global health governance

Teaching details

This unit will draw on a blended learning approach. Students will engage with taught content that is self-paced (including, for example, narrated slides and other teaching and research materials). Students will be tasked to complete activities in a mix of individual work and collaborative study groups. Live sessions will also be scheduled where students will present and discuss ideas and clarify learning with the tutor alongside students in the same study groups. The materials used for these sessions will be separately shared for those unable to attend. A weekly Office Hour will be complemented by periodic monitoring and responses to online discussion space for student reflections, summaries and Q&A.

Assessment Details

Part 1: Case study (750 words or equivalent) (25%) - assesses ILOs 1&2

Part 2: Essay (2250 words) (75%) - assesses ILOs 3-5

Reading and References

  • Haynes, L. Legge,D. et al. (2013) Will the struggle for health equity and social justice be best served by a Framework Convention on Global Health? Health and Human Rights 15, 1, 111-116
  • Kent B, Hein, W and Drager, N. (eds) (2009) Making sense of global health governance : a policy perspective Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Kruk ME. (2012) Globalisation and global health governance: Implications for public health. Global Public Health 7: S54-S62.
  • Dodgson, R., Lee, K & Drager, N. (2002) Global Health Governance: A conceptual review. Centre on Global Change and Health, LSHTM & WHO
  • Global Health Watch (2012) Global Health Watch 3: An Alternative World Health Report
  • Prah Ruger, J. (2011) “Shared health Governance” American Journal of Bioethics, 11, 7.