HAR675: Key Issues in Global Public Health

The Key Issues in Global Public Health module is led by Julie Balen. It runs in the Autumn semester and is worth 15 credits.


The Key Issues in Global Public Health module is led by Julie Balen. It runs in the Autumn semester and is worth 15 credits.

It is one of the modules on:

  • European Masters Programme in Public Health (core)
  • Master of Public Health (Health Services Research) (core)
  • Master of Public Health (Management and Leadership) (option)
  • Master of Public Health (MPH) (core)

This module is available as a CPD option

This module is available faculty-wide in any year as a DDP module


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, eg:

  • Individual governments
  • United Nations organisations
  • Bilateral and multilateral partnerships
  • Local and international non-governmental organisations and health care industries

Taking these into account, the unit 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 (eg malnutrition, maternal and child health, mental health, sexual and reproductive health)
  • Socio-political issues (eg gender equity, trade, conflict, famine)
  • Environmental issues (eg 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.


    The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it is up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research, funding changes, professional accreditation requirements, student or employer feedback, outcomes of reviews, and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

    Information last updated: 15 June 2022

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