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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Public Health and Health Policy (Distance Learning) (PGSP11339)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityAvailable to all students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) Credits20
Home subject areaPostgrad (School of Social and Political Studies) Other subject areaSocial Policy
Course website None Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionThis course examines concepts and debates relating to public health, health inequalities and health policy in a global context. It enables students to understand the policy making process, to analyse the roles of key health policy actors, and to consider the relationship between evidence and policy in relation to health.

Public health emphasises the dual objectives of population health improvement and the reduction of health inequalities; yet there is a lack of consensus over the principal determinants of health, appropriate policy approaches for achieving these goals, and effective strategies for engaging in the making of public policy. This course will introduce students to key concepts and principles in public health and policy analysis, exploring the role of public policy in meeting population health objectives. It offers a problem-focused and multi-disciplinary approach that draws on public health medicine, epidemiology, political science, public administration, sociology and political theory, with a normative focus on health equity a central theme throughout the course. Students will be provided with a conceptual framework within which to analyse the making of health policy, focusing on the varying distribution of power among different actors and stakeholders. Key theories of the state will be introduced, including its various functions in relation to population health, and we will explore changes in health policy associated with the &«hollowing out&ª of the state via the increased role of markets, civil society, and international agencies. The course offers different approaches to understanding the policy process, looking at why some health issues obtain a privileged position within the policy agenda and why others are denied access to it, and emphasising the importance of understanding obstacles to effective implementation.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
Displayed in Visiting Students Prospectus?No
Course Delivery Information
Delivery period: 2013/14 Semester 1, Available to all students (SV1) Learn enabled:  Yes Quota:  None
Web Timetable Web Timetable
Course Start Date 16/09/2013
Breakdown of Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Please contact the School directly for a breakdown of Learning and Teaching Activities
Additional Notes
Breakdown of Assessment Methods (Further Info) Please contact the School directly for a breakdown of Assessment Methods
No Exam Information
Summary of Intended Learning Outcomes
- Critically analyse the concept of health and its determinants at a population level, and consider the relevance of these for contemporary public policy
- Demonstrate a critical understanding of the range of factors that influence population health and the causes of health inequalities
- Critically apply a conceptual framework for analysis of the health policy process
- Critically assess theories of the state and their implications for the state&©s role in relation to health
- Consider the increasing role of market actors within the policy process
- Assess the varying roles of civil society organisations within the policy process
- Examine different theoretical approaches to understanding which health issues are situated on the policy agenda and to effective implementation of heath policy
- Evaluate the role of the health system in promoting health and reducing health inequalities at a population level
- Understand conceptual and methodological issues in measuring and monitoring health and health inequalities, and be able to interpret and critically appraise information on health and health inequalities
- Consider the role of scientific evidence in policy-making and examine competing models of the relationship between research and policy
Assessment Information

Assessment will be based on two components:
1) Input to blogs and discussion fora. Students to submit a portfolio of 6 contributions to course discussions, including at least 2 initiated contributions and at least 2 responses to other class members (30%)
2) Written essay of 3,000 words (70%).
Special Arrangements
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus Week
1 Understanding health ( including health, public health, global health)
2 Understanding health policy (including definitions, policy processes)
3 The state and public health. (Including roles, functions and stewardship.)
4 Agenda-setting and civil society
5 Policy networks and the commercial sector
6 The state in global health (including state capacity, policy transfer.)
7 Social determinants of health and health inequalities
8 Health systems and primary health care
9 Measuring health and health inequalities
10 Evidence and policy in health
Transferable skills Not entered
Reading list Key Texts
- Buse K, Mays N and Walt G (2005). Making Health Policy. (London; Open University Press)
- Blank R and Buray V. (2010) Comparative Health Policy 3rd edition. (Basingstoke: Palgrave)
- Crinson I (2009) Health Policy: A Critical Perspective (London: Sage).
- Graham H (2007). Unequal Lives: Health and socioeconomic inequalities. Maidenhead; Open University Press.
- Pomerleau J and McKee M (eds) (2005). Issues in public health. Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2005.
- Beaglehole R, Bonita R (2004). Public health at the crossroads (2nd ed). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Sarah Hill
Course secretaryMiss Cristyn King
Tel: (0131 6)51 3865
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