Health and Social Care Policy

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Tania Burchardt 32L 3.30


This course is available on the BSc in International Social and Public Policy, BSc in International Social and Public Policy and Economics, BSc in International Social and Public Policy with Politics, BSc in Social Policy, BSc in Social Policy and Economics, BSc in Social Policy and Sociology and BSc in Social Policy with Government. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit. This course is available with permission to General Course students.

Course content

The course equips students with the concepts, tools and knowledge to understand the challenges of health and social care policy in the 21st century, in the differing contexts of the UK and other rich countries, and in low- and middle-income countries. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, this feels more important than ever.

In the first term, we consider the fundamental aims of health and social care policy, including health and well-being, health inequalities, health promotion, and health as a human right. We then examine policy approaches and healthcare regimes across different country contexts, including the strengths and weaknesses of different models of healthcare financing, public and private. 

In the second term, we move on to think about how to bring about change - both change in people's behaviour through regulation, 'nudge' and incentives, and change in health and social care systems, including an examination of the role played by global pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, and the potential for reform. We investigate the role that  evaluations of health and social care play in shaping policy change. Finally, we turn to specific groups and needs, including the challenges and potential of ageing, long-term care, mental health policy, child protection and health.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of lectures in the ST.

Formative coursework

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

One essay of 1000 words (excluding references), following a class task or presentation. This is compulsory.

One essay of 1000 words, and three essay plans, using the same format as the summative assessment. This is encouraged, but optional.

Indicative reading

There is no course textbook. A list of selected texts and readings will be included in the reading lists for each week which will be made available at the start of the Michaelmas Term.

Oliver, A. (2020) Country responses to the COVID19 pandemic: HEPL blog series https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/health-economics-policy-and-law/hepl-blog-series-covid19-pandemic 

World Health Organization (2013) World health report 2013: Research for universal health coverage. World Health Organization.

Marmot, M. (2020) Health Equity in England: the Marmot review 10 years on. Institute of Health Equity.

Baggott, R. (2015) Understanding Health Policy. 2nd edition. Policy Press.


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

Students will be asked to write 3 essays of 1000 words each (excluding references) from a selection of questions addressing a range of topics covered in the course. This will be a take-home, open-book, assessment.

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: Social Policy

Total students 2019/20: 21

Average class size 2019/20: 10

Capped 2019/20: Yes (30)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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