Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2016-2017 (archived)


Department: Health


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2016/17 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To introduce students to the history of ‘global health’ as an issue in domestic politics, foreign policy and international relations
  • To familiarise students with the key elements of transnational economic integration (globalisation), its institutional and political drivers, and their consequences for health
  • To engage students with issues of global justice as they relate to health and challenges and controversies in global governance for health, in particular as they involve influences beyond the reach of health care and health systems


  • Seminars and readings will begin with a critical examination of the literature on contemporary globalisation, and the policies and institutions that have promoted it. They will then address key debates and controversies in assessing the impact of globalisation on health (and health inequalities). Specific topics covered include (but are not limited to): transnational corporations and health; trade and investment agreements and health; globalisation, urbanisation and health; global financial markets and health, including the role of capital flight; the relation between globalisation and health inequalities within countries; the changing institutional landscape of global health, including the role of such established actors as the Bretton Woods institutions and new entrants like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; the politics of global public goods for health; health and human rights; and the need for methodological pluralism in studying the relations between globalisation and health. The module will conclude with an examination of how the health effects of globalisation connect with broader questions of global justice.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Advanced understanding of the major elements of contemporary globalisation (e.g. global reorganisation of production, global financial markets, migration and remittances) and of pathways by which globalisation influences health and health inequalities
  • Advanced understanding of the complex interrelationships between the various governments, non-state actors and supranational organisations whose actions and policies are directly and indirectly relevant to health and health inequalities in a global economy
  • Advanced critical understanding of the challenges and political economy of global governance for health, for example with respect to integrating health considerations into such areas as trade policy
  • Understanding of how health fits into larger debates about global justice and ‘our’ obligations to those who are not our compatriots
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Advanced ability to locate and evaluate relevant sources across multiple disciplines, drawing on both academic and other literatures
  • High-level ability to compare, contrast and integrate different disciplinary perspectives on globalisation and health and critically to evaluate the appropriateness of various methodologies for studying the relations between globalisation and health
  • Ability convincingly to present and critically evaluate arguments regarding globalisation and health and global governance for health
  • Ability critically to assess claims about causal relations between globalisation and health
  • Ability to develop effective and convincing comparisons and evaluations of official (or ‘mainstream’) and critical positions on issues related to globalisation and health
Key Skills:
  • Comprehension of complex ideas, propositions and arguments
  • Advanced ability to seek out and identify appropriate sources of evidence and information, and to use them in reasoned argument in support of a position
  • Understanding the importance of history and historical sources
  • Ability critically to assess how interests can drive or bias arguments and the selection of evidence (the social production of knowledge)

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The module will be taught in 22 two-hour seminars. Most will be introduced by the module leader, but some will feature academic guests.
  • Seminars will be based on a list of core and supplementary readings. In some cases, students will be tasked with locating additional relevant sources in advance of the seminar, and explaining their relevance.
  • Seminars will provide students with the opportunity to present their own work in progress, to test their understanding of the course material, and defend and debate different positions presented in that material.
  • Independent reading will deepen understanding of concepts and arguments in existing literature whilst allow also enabling students to research their particular interests within the module content.
  • A presentation to the class, which is the first assignment, will engage students in communicating evidence and argument effectively, communicating across disciplinary boundaries, and learning one another’s disciplinary languages.
  • Written assignments will allow students to extend critical understanding of key concepts, synthesise material across disciplines, argue coherently, and reflectively assess their proficiency in thinking and communicating effectively in writing.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminarsâ–  22 Weekly 2 hours 44
Reading, independent study and assignment preparation 156
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Assessment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Presentation: Critical discourse analysis or media review* In-class Powerpoint presentation** and reference list 20% Powerpoint presentation and reference list
First essay 2500 words 35% Essay
Second essay 3500 words 45% Essay

Formative Assessment:

Feedback on assessment topics will be provided during relevant seminar sessions

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University