HAR675: Key Issues in Global Public Health


This unit introduces contemporary and historical public health discourses, policies and practices, before critically examining their practical and theoretical underpinnings. The unit goes on to explore the role and actions of key global health players (e.g. individual governments, United Nations organisations, bilateral and multilateral partnerships, local and international non-governmental organisations and health care industries), and discusses the social determinants of health, considering how they might be tackled for improved health equity and social justice. The unit then provides an introduction to major public health challenges in the contemporary world, illustrated through health issues (e.g. malnutrition, maternal and child health, mental health, sexual and reproductive health), socio-political issues (e.g. gender equity, trade, conflict, famine), and environmental issues (e.g. climate change, urbanisation, food security, waste management). Lastly, the unit concludes by looking forward, in light of contemporary trends, whilst reflecting on lessons learnt, in order to sustainably improve global health in the future.


This unit aims to introduce terms and concepts that underpin global public health discourses, policies and practices, and to provide an overview of key public health issues, challenges and responses at local, national and global levels.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the unit, a candidate will be able to:

  • Apply critically the principal public health paradigms, assumptions, principles, and practices;
  • Assess the nature and distribution of key national and global public health issues;
  • Evaluate critically the relationship between the health of the public and wider socio-economic, geo-political, environmental, technological and other development processes;
  • Debate the merits and demerits of public health responses to major local, national, international and global challenges, whether these are diseases, socio-political factors or environmental issues.

Teaching Methods

The unit takes an inter-disciplinary teaching approach, often using perspectives from the social and political sciences to question and contest basic public health assumptions. The lectures will encourage participation by engaging in discussions and debates surrounding the key issues in global health. Each session will include recommendations for further reading and independent study, which is highly encouraged. The module will encourage the development and use of a reflective learning diary to help record and further develop critical thinking skills – this will be of great benefit when undertaking the assignments.


Assessment component Weighting
In-class participation 10% 
Course work assignment (2500 words) and a personal learning reflection 90% 

The pass mark is 50%.