HP405      Half Unit
Global Health Policymaking and Policy Change

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Justin Parkhurst COW.3.08


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Global Health. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

The course introduces students to the political nature of policymaking and policy change with a particular focus on global health issues, contexts, and power relationships. The course begins by introducing the concept of what we mean by health policy, leading to discussion of key theories about how policies are made and how power is exercised in the policy process. In particular these discussions will draw on cases or describe contexts typical of global health settings. Further sessions will cover topics such as: stakeholders and networks in global health policymaking; institutionalism ; the role of evidence to inform policy decisions; and agenda setting in global health policymaking. The course thus often draws on central concepts from the field of public policy, but applies them specifically to global health issues, contexts, and concerns. Seminars will allow students to explore a set of these theories and concepts in depth, applying insights to case studies of health policymaking drawn from a number of country or global settings.


15 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT. 3 hours of help sessions in the ST.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the LT.

An outline or early draft of the term essay will be submitted in week 5 to allow feedback and guidance from teaching staff before final submission.

Students will also have a mock exam in the final seminar of term.

Indicative reading

John, Peter. 1998. Analysing public policy. London: Continuum.

Lowndes, Vivien, and M Roberts. 2013. Why institutions matter. Basingstoke: Palgrave (Chapter 1).


Parkhurst, Justin. 2012. "Framing, ideology and evidence: Uganda’s HIV success and the development of PEPFAR’s ‘ABC’ policy for HIV prevention."  Evidence and Policy 8 (1):19-38.


Parkhurst, Justin, David Chilongozi, and Eleanor Hutchinson. 2015. "Doubt, defiance, and identity: understanding resistance to male circumcision for HIV prevention in Malawi."  Social Science & Medicine 135:15-22.


Shiffman, Jeremy, and Stephanie Smith. 2007. "Generation of political priority for global health initiatives: a framework and case study of maternal mortality."  The Lancet 370 (1370-1379).

Walt, Gill, Jeremy Shiffman, Helen Schneider, Susan F Murray, Ruairi Brugha, and Lucy Gilson. 2008. "‘Doing’ health policy analysis: methodological and conceptual reflections and challenges."  Health Policy and Planning 23:308-317.


Exam (60%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (40%, 2500 words) in the LT.

Key facts

Department: Health Policy

Total students 2016/17: Unavailable

Average class size 2016/17: Unavailable

Controlled access 2016/17: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills

Course survey results

(2015/16 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 54%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)