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Unit information: Healthcare services, policy and finance in 2018/19

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Healthcare services, policy and finance
Unit code BRMSM0008
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Kipping
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Medical School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences


This unit provides students with the knowledge and understanding about how different models of healthcare are structured, financed and provided in developed and developing countries. It will be underpinned by concepts of health, wellbeing and illness and the role of medicine and healthcare at a societal level. The unit will allow students to consider how the models for primary care and secondary care are evolving, using the UK as a case study. International case studies will be used to explore the political, economic, socio-cultural and environmental influences on health services. The role of the public, patients and carers in the planning, delivery and use of healthcare will be discussed with respect to need, supply, demand and choice. The formation of healthcare policy will be explored with respect to politics, power and use of evidence. The principles of healthcare quality and safety will be discussed with reference to clinical guidelines, clinical effectiveness, target setting, performance management, clinical governance and public health governance.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this unit, the student should be able to:

  1. Describe the sociological aspects of health, illness and healthcare services
  2. Critically describe different models of healthcare service provision with regard to health outcomes and value for money
  3. Describe how and why the structure of health services is evolving.
  4. Critically appraise different approaches to financing health services
  5. Describe the influences on national and local policy development and implementation
  6. Understand the role of public health, epidemiology and public involvement in the planning, commissioning, monitoring and quality improvement of healthcare services
  7. Critically appraise different methods to maintain or improve health service quality
  8. Outline methods for involving the public, patients and carers in the planning and delivery of health services

Teaching details

The unit will be taught at the University of Bristol over one teaching block. There will be 25 contact hours split between lectures (10 hours) and seminars (15 hours). Non-contact hours will comprise directed self-study including reading, accessing web-based supplementary materials, critical analysis and completion of the assessments (75 hours). Participants will learn from shared experience of health care systems within the group as well as from the lectures.

Assessment Details

Student learning will be supported in lectures and practicals by the use of exercises, quizzes and feedback following group discussions.

Summative assessment of the unit will be through a 1,500 to 2000-word essay and a group assignment. The essay will require the student to demonstrate the application of knowledge developed across ILOs 1 – 5 (70% of unit mark). The group project will contribute 30% of the final unit mark. (ILOs 6-8).

A score of 50% will be required to pass the module. Assessments are weighted as above.

Reading and References

There are no set course texts for this unit.

Recommended reading

  1. Black N, Gruen R. (2005) Understanding Health Services. OUP: Maidenhead.
  2. Buse K, Mays N, Walt G. (2007) Making health policy. OUP. Maidenhead.
  3. Ham C. (2009) Health Policy in Britain. Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke (6th edition).