Not available in 2019/20
DV421      Half Unit
Critical Perspectives on Global Health and Development

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Philipa Mladovsky CON.6.13


This course is available on the MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MPA in Social Impact, MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Global Health Policy, MSc in Global Politics, MSc in Health and International Development, MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies, MSc in Political Economy of Late Development, MSc in Urban Policy (LSE and Sciences Po) and MSc in Urbanisation and Development. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Places will be allocated with priority to ID and joint-degree students.  If there are more ID and joint-degree students than DV421 can accommodate, these places will be allocated randomly.  Non-ID/Joint Degree students will be allocated to spare places by random selection with the preference given first to those degrees where the regulations permit this option.

Course content

The course is concerned with inter-relationships between challenges to human health and health systems in the developing world and their socio-economic, cultural, historic and political context. Students will learn to think critically about how global health policy and practice reproduce and/or change power relations - between states, communities and individuals. The course does this by exploring the history of global health, interrogating concepts (e.g. chronic disease, mental health, corruption, evidence), showing how they have been socially constructed through discourse and technologies of government, and suggesting alternative ways of understanding these concepts. It investigates how global health policies reproduce, change or are changed by norms, values, morals, ethics and people’s identity and subjectivity. A wide range of topics is covered, including: legacies of colonialism in global health; the causes and consequences of the HIV/AIDS pandemic; non-communicable diseases; and mental health. Case studies are drawn mainly from sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Drawing on theories of power such as structural violence, biopower and governmentality, the course will enable students to question global health policy initiatives, which might seek to promote equity and human rights, but may instead create new exclusions and marginalised populations.


20 hours of lectures and 12 hours of seminars in the LT.

There will be a reading week in Week 6.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to prepare at least one class presentation and submit one essay.

Indicative reading

A detailed weekly reading list will be provided at the first lecture. The readings for this course are from journals and select book chapters mainly but not exclusively in the fields of anthropology and sociology. Readings will also include case studies from various countries and reports, papers and articles published by international organisations, think-tanks, and a variety of other sources.

Farmer, P., Kim, J.Y., Kleinman, A. and Basilico, M., 2013. Reimagining global health: an introduction. Univ of California Press.

Biehl, J. and Petryna, A. eds., 2013. When people come first: critical studies in global health. Princeton University Press.

Adams, V., 2016. Metrics: What counts in global health. Duke University Press.

Geissler, P.W., Rottenburg, R. and Zenker, J. eds., 2014. Rethinking biomedicine and governance in Africa: Contributions from anthropology (Vol. 15). transcript Verlag.

Baer, H.A., Singer, M. and Susser, I., 2003. Medical anthropology and the world system. Greenwood Publishing Group.

Dry, S. and Leach, M. eds., 2010. Epidemics:" Science, Governance and Social Justice". Routledge.

Packard RM. 2016. A history of global health: interventions into the lives of other peoples. JHU Press


Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Take-home essay (100%, 3,000 words) due at the start of Summer Term

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 14.5
Merit 71.8
Pass 12.9
Fail 0.8

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2018/19: 64

Average class size 2018/19: 16

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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