Health and Social Care Policy

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Martin Knapp COW 4.03


This course is available on the BSc in Social Policy, BSc in Social Policy and Criminology, BSc in Social Policy and Economics, BSc in Social Policy and Sociology and BSc in Social Policy with Government. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

The course covers both the foundations of health and social care policy, and how they impact on our everyday lives. It covers the key policy issues in health and social care faced today in the UK, the USA, and in low- and middle-income countries. Comparative health system performance is also included.

In the first term, students will be introduced to the main dimensions of and challenges facing health and social care systems today. These include the concepts of need and demand for health and social care; how to pay for health and social care (the challenges of health insurance, for example); and how to pay providers in ways that incentivise appropriate responses. We will look at health and behaviour (including 'nudge' efforts); models of reform in the delivery of health and social care; and personal responsibility, choice and risk. Inequalities in health and healthcare will be a feature running through many topics.

In the second term, we will move on to look at a number of specific areas. These will include: mental health policy; child protection and health; the successes and challenges associated with ageing populations; pharmaceuticals policy; prevention and public health; and economic evaluation. There will also be a focus on the issues and challenges of health and social care policy in low- and middle-income country contexts.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 2 hours of classes in the ST.

Formative coursework

One essay of 1000 words (excluding references).

Indicative reading

There is no course textbook. A list of selected texts and readings will be included in the reading list which will be provided at the start of the term.

E. Mossialos, A. Dixon, J. Figueras and J. Kutzin (2002) Funding health care: options for Europe. Buckingham, Open University Press.

World Health Organization (2000) The World Health Report 2000: health systems - improving performance. Geneva, World Health Organization. 

Fernandez JL, Forder J, Knapp M (2011) Long-term care, in Smith P, Glied S (editors) The Oxford Handbook of Health Economics, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pages 578-601.

Commonwealth Fund (2014) Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, 2014 Update: How the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally. Washington DC: Commonwealth Fund.

Marmot M et al (2010) Fair Society, Healthy Lives (The Marmot Review), London: UCL.

Behavioural Insights Team (2010) Applying Behavioural Insight to Health. London: Cabinet Office.

Knapp M, Iemmi  V (2016) Mental health. In Scheffler R (ed.) Global Handbook of Health Economics. World Scientific Press, forthcoming. 

Le Grand J (2007) The Other Invisible Hand: delivering public services through choice and competition. Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press. 


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.

Student performance results

(2013/14 - 2015/16 combined)

Classification % of students
First 15.7
2:1 68.6
2:2 11.8
Third 0
Fail 3.9

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2015/16: 30

Average class size 2015/16: 15

Capped 2015/16: Yes (30)

Lecture capture used 2015/16: Yes (MT & LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Communication