Not available in 2020/21
HP402      Half Unit
Measuring Health System Performance

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Irene Papanicolas COW 3.04


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

Course content

This course aims to present a framework to discuss the opportunities and challenges with performance measurement in health care, examine the various dimensions and levels of health system performance, identify the measurement instruments and analytic tools needed, and examine the implications of these issues for policy makers and regulators. Lectures generally focus on measuring health system performance in high-income countries but draw on the experience of other countries where relevant.

After taking this course students are expected to:

- understand the principles of performance measurement

- appreciate the challenges, approaches, and opportunities in performance measurement in four dimensions: population health, patient outcomes, equity, quality and appropriateness of care, and productivity

- understand the methodological issues facing performance measurement relating to risk adjustment, developing composite measures, and measuring attribution and causality

  - identify key issues relevant to policy makers relating to: developing targets and reporting on progress to the public, and developing incentives to improve performance


15 hours of lectures, 9 hours of seminars and 5 hours of workshops in the LT.

Teaching will be delivered as 10 lectures of 1.5 hours, plus 6 seminars of 1.5 hours and 2 workshops of 2.5 hours

Indicative reading

Papanicolas I, Smith P (Eds) Health System Performance Comparison: An Agenda for Policy, Information and Research. Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2013;

P Smith, E Mossialos, I Papanicolas S. Leatherman (Eds), Performance measurement for health system improvement: experiences, challenges and prospects.  Cambridge University Press, 2010. 

Institute of Medicine, Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century. Washington, DC, National Academies Press, 2001;

OECD, Measuring up: improving health system performance in OECD countries. Paris: OECD, 2002. World Health Organization (WHO), (2000)

The world health report 2000:Health systems: Improving performance, Geneva: WHO Publications


Presentation (25%) in the LT.
Essay (75%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2016/17 - 2018/19 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 13.6
Merit 79.3
Pass 4.5
Fail 2.5

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: Health Policy

Total students 2019/20: 66

Average class size 2019/20: 17

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information