HP412      Half Unit
Global Health Security

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Clare Wenham COW 3:07


This course is available on the MSc in Global Health Policy, MSc in Global Politics, MSc in Health Policy, Planning and Financing, MSc in Health and International Development, MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies, MSc in International Health Policy, MSc in International Health Policy (Health Economics) and MSc in International Relations. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

Global health security has become a dominant paradigm in global health. Recent outbreaks of Ebola, Zika and pandemic influenza have heightened the global sense of vulnerability to the spread of infectious disease, and as a consequence global health policy is now complete with references to such health emergencies. These threats are even listed on national security strategies of many governments, and as such we see the ever increasing link between security and health across policy areas and levels.

This course interrogates this health-security nexus. It considers different conceptual understandings of security including global health security, national security, biosecurity and human security and considers these in multiple health contexts. These empirical explorations include Ebola, Zika, Anti-microbial resistance (AMR) and conflict and health. Yet, this course also asks students to consider the assumptions inherent to the security discourse, and the challenges these has on global health policymaking. Should the global health community be championing global health security, or has the terminology run its course.

To examine these concepts, empirics and broader political questions, this module will draw on contributions from international relations, political science, law, epidemiology and public health research.

Beyond the classroom, this course will also run a global health emergency simulation activity to provide students with a real life scenario of global health security crisis. Students will represent various stakeholders in global health, and will have to make real-time decisions to respond to the crisis, and minimise its global impact. Such activity aims to bring to life the theories, challenges and politics which will have been covered throughout the course.


10 hours of lectures, 8 hours of seminars and 6 hours of workshops in the MT.

Formative coursework

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

Students will submit a short 1000 word essay (on the topic that they are writing on for the summative) during the teaching term. These will be graded and feedback given to students. This allows students to get valuable experience of writing critical essays have they not before in previous modules or degrees, and the expectations of the summative assessment. For example, if a student’s formative work flagged particular concerns this could be addressed ahead of the summative submission.

Indicative reading

  • McInnes, C., & Lee, K. (2006). Health, foreign policy and security. Rev Int Stud, 32, 5-23.
  • Rushton, S. (2011) Global Health Security: Security for Whom? Security for What?, Political Studies 59 (4): 779 -796
  • Davies, S. E. (2008). Securitizing infectious disease. International Affairs, 84(2), 295-313.
  • Chen, L., & Narasimhan, V. (2003). Human security and global health. Journal of Human Development, 4(2), 181-190.
  • Rushton, S., & Youde, J. (Eds.). (2014). Routledge handbook of global health security. Routledge.
  • Elbe, S. (2005). AIDS, security, biopolitics. International relations, 19(4), 403-419.
  • King, N. B. (2002). Security, disease, commerce: ideologies of postcolonial global health. Social studies of science, 32(5-6), 763-789.
  • O’Manique, C. (2005). The “securitisation” of HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa: a critical feminist lens. Policy and Society, 24(1), 24-47.
  • Heymann, D. L., Chen, L., Takemi, K., Fidler, D. P., Tappero, J. W., Thomas, M. J., ... & Kalache, A. (2015). Global health security: the wider lessons from the west African Ebola virus disease epidemic. The Lancet, 385(9980), 1884-1901.
  • Ooms, G., Beiersmann, C., Flores, W., Hanefeld, J., Müller, O., Mulumba, M., ... & Jahn, A. (2017). Synergies and tensions between universal health coverage and global health security: why we need a second ‘Maximizing Positive Synergies’ initiative. BMJ global health, 2(1), e000217.


Essay (75%, 3500 words) and blog post (25%) in the LT Week 1.

1 x 3500 word essay – 75% of grade

Students will be asked to pick one essay question. They will be given the option to choose their own essay topic (after discussion with their seminar leader) or to select from a provided list of questions. The questions will be broad, allowing for student individuality to come across in their answers.

1 x Blog reflecting on simulation activity – 25% of grade

Students will be assessed on their reflections on the simulation activity, including their preparation for it, what they have learned from the day’s activity, how the course material has helped them to understand the challenges of a real life global health outbreak and finally to consider their own contribution and role in the simulation. In this way, this assessment aims for students to consider both the course content, and their skill development in team work, presentations and problem solving.

Key facts

Department: Health Policy

Total students 2018/19: Unavailable

Average class size 2018/19: Unavailable

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills