Not available in 2021/22
DV465      Half Unit
Global Health Work: Expertise and Labour

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr. Tine Hanrieder


This course is available on the MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Management (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Gender, Development and Globalisation, MSc in Global Health Policy, MSc in Health and International Development, MSc in Human Resources and Organisations (Human Resource Management/CIPD), MSc in Human Resources and Organisations (International Employment Relations and Human Resource Management), MSc in Human Rights, MSc in Human Rights and Politics, MSc in Inequalities and Social Science, MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies, MSc in International Migration and Public Policy and MSc in Urbanisation and Development. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

The course examines the political and moral economy of global health work. It examines a set of cross-cutting development themes including the politics of education, workforce migration and brain drain, and gendered and racialized divisions of labour. It uses a broad conception of health workforce that includes frontline workers (paid and unpaid), managers, as well as policy and strategy consultants, and examines the hierarchies established among them. The course introduces students to the historical and localized genealogies of health workforce challenges and discusses key issues and controversies, among them: debates about workers’ cost-effectiveness, the role of volunteering and unpaid work, the moral and political economies of “corruption”, the gains and losses incurred from labour migration, and the role of trade unions and international NGOs in workforce governance. The course mostly draws on research in sociology and anthropology, but also includes insights from political science, critical public health, and the social studies of science. It has a global outlook, working with case studies and examples from different regions and continents. Students will learn to critically analyse global health workforce politics from different perspectives. They will learn to question and contextualize transnational and national policies for training, retaining, and regulating health workers and to interrogate conceptions of (cost-)effective work.


15 hours of lectures and 12 hours of seminars in the MT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 presentation and 1 other piece of coursework in the MT.

Indicative reading

- Biju, B.L. 2013: Angels Are Turning Red: Nurses’ Strikes in Kerala, in: Economic and Political Weekly 48: 52, 25-28.

- Birn, Anne-Emmanuelle; Pillay, Yogan; Holtz, Timothy H. 2017: Understanding and Organizing Health Care Systems, in: Birn, Anne-Emmanuelle; Pillay, Yogan; Holtz, Timothy H. (eds.): Textbook of Global Health, DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199392285.001.0001, esp. pp. 509 - 513.

- Choe, Catherine Ceniza 2003: Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

- Maes, Kenneth 2017: The Lives of Community Health Workers: Local Labor and Global Health in Urban Ethiopia. New York: Routledge.

- Prince, Ruth; Brown, Hannah 2016 (eds.): Volunteer Economies: The Politics and Ethics of Voluntary Labour in Africa. Boydell & Brewer, esp. chapters 1, 2, 4, 6, 7 and Epilogue.

- WHO 2016: Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health: Workforce 2030. Geneva: World Health Organization.


Essay (70%, 3000 words), blog post (10%) and blog post (20%) in the MT.

Formative feedback on an essay outlined is provided.

The blog post receiving the higher mark is weighted 20%, the other 10%.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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 2020/21: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Controlled access 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Communication