DV444      Half Unit
Global Health Challenges: Epidemics, Disease, and Public Health Response

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Arjan Gjonca CON.7.08


This course is available on the MSc in China in Comparative Perspective, MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Global Health Policy, MSc in Health and International Development, MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies, MSc in Political Economy of Late Development and MSc in Social Research Methods. 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 DV444 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.


No pre-requisites are required for this course.

Course content

This course aims at looking at some of the major global health challenges in the 21st century. It analysis health challenges from a multidisciplinary approach including public health, demography and development studies. The relationship between epidemics, diseases and the public health policies are core to the content of the course. The course takes an interest on population consequences of diseases and epidemics. It also addresses the social and environmental determinants of epidemics and disease in low and middle income countries. Moreover, the course does this in a comparative perspective to high income countries. The course uses both evidence-based and theoretical approaches.  Another important aspect of the course is that it sheds light on the future of global health challenges as a result of anticipated population health changes.

Some of the main topics covered are: Epidemics and pandemics in historical perspective; the effects of pandemics in the overall health and mortality patterns of populations; Covid 19 pandemic - characteristics and the public health response to it; obesity and undernourishment as public health challenges; The increased global burden of mental health, environmental challenges and the impact on health; the relationship of migration and health and its effect on urban population.


15 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the MT. 1 hour and 30 minutes of lectures in the ST.

Formative coursework

One 1,500 word formative essay in MT.

Indicative reading

McMichael T (2001) Human Frontiers, environment and disease.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Merson, MH, Black, ER, Mills, AJ. (2012) Global Health: Diseases, Programmes, Systems, and Policies, London: Jones & Barlett Learning; Caldwell JC.

Taubenberger, J.K. and Morens, D.M. (2006) “1918 Influenza: the Mother of All Pandemics”; Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 12, No. 1, January 2006, pp. 15-22

Patel, V., et al. (2018). "The Lancet Commission on global mental health and sustainable development." THE LANCET 392(10157): 1553-1598. [Open access, available at https://www.thelancet.com/commissions/global-mental-health]

Popkin, B.M. (2001) The Nutrition Transition and Obesity in the Developing World. Journal of Nutrition 131(3)

Murray CJL and Lopez AD (1996). The global burden of disease: a comprehensive assessment of mortality and disability from diseases, injuries, and risk factors in 1990 and projected to 2020, Cambridge, MA

Montgomery MR. (2008) The health of urban populations in developing countries. New York, New York, United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division


Essay (100%, 4000 words) in the LT.

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: 21

Average class size 2019/20: 9

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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