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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Social Policy

Undergraduate Course: Population Health and Health Policy (SCPL10029)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis 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 emphasizes 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┐ 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.

Course description Not entered
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should be at a level commensurate with Edinburgh University Year 3 or Year 4 students.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment will be based on two components:
1) Input to online discussion fora. Students to submit a 1,500 word portfolio of 4-6 written contributions to online course discussions, including at least 2 initiated contributions and at least 2 responses to other┐s contributions (30%).
2) Written essay of 2,500 words (70%).

Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the range of factors that influence health at a population level, and consider the relevance of these for contemporary public policy
  2. Be familiar with key conceptual frameworks for analysing health policy as well as their critiques, and able to apply these to specific examples of health policy development
  3. Understand the role of the state, of market actors and of civil society organisations within the policy process
  4. Understand the dual public health goals of improving health and reducing health inequalities; be aware of key conceptual and methodological issues in measuring health and social position; and be able to interpret and appraise information on health and health inequalities
  5. Understand the role of scientific evidence in policy-making and be familiar with competing models of the relationship between research and policy
Reading List
Key Texts
Buse K, Mays N and Walt G (2012). Making Health Policy (2nd ed). 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.
Sim F and McKee M (eds) (2011). Issues in public health (2nd ed). Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Beaglehole R, Bonita R (2004). Public health at the crossroads (2nd ed). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Keywordspublic health,global health,health policy health inequalities
Course organiserDr Katherine Smith
Tel: (0131 6)51 1461
Course secretaryMiss Natalie Stroud
Tel: (0131 6)51 3162
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