DV421      Half Unit
Critical Perspectives on Global Health and Development

This information is for the 2020/21 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 health and international development in its social, cultural, historical 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 taken-for granted concepts and understanding how they have been socially constructed and suggesting alternative perspectives. Drawing on anthropological, sociological and other literature, it investigates how global health policies reproduce, change or are changed by values, morals, ethics and people’s identity and subjectivity. Themes that run through the course include: legacies of colonialism; the critique of neoliberalism; and interrogating positivism in global health research. Case studies are drawn mainly from sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and Asia and typically focus on specific diseases, conditions or parts of the health system. Drawing on theories of power such as structural violence and governmentality, the course will enable students to question mainstream 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 10 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


Take-home assessment (100%) in the ST.

The take-home assessment will take the form of a take-home essay (100%, 3,000 words) due at the start of Summer Term.

Student performance results

(2016/17 - 2018/19 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 20.7
Merit 70.3
Pass 9
Fail 0

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2019/20: Unavailable

Average class size 2019/20: Unavailable

Controlled access 2019/20: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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