HP404      Half Unit
Global Health Policy: Institutions, Actors and Politics

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Clare Wenham COW 1.03


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

This course is compulsory on the MSc Global Health Policy. This course is available on Msc International Health Policy, Msc International Health Policy (HE), Msc Health Policy Planning and Financing  and MSc in Health and International Development. This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access) and demand is typically high. Places are allocated first to students in the Department of Health Policy and then on a first come first served basis.

Course content

Globalization has not only impacted on the nature of emerging global health but the policy responses to these challenges. This module critically examines the transnational institutions and actors involved in global health policy and the interplay between them. The governance of global health issues has traditionally been carried out by states and various United Nations agencies (namely, the World Health Organisation), but given the transboundary nature of many global health issues, a diverse range of actors, including the private sector, civil society organizations and national governments, are now integrally involved. The funding of global health programmes and policies, for example, has shifted from primarily bi-/multilateral donors to include private and public sectors and philanthropists in a global health governance mosaic. The module will use a number of case studies to examine the organisation and role of global health institutions, the challenges and opportunities presented by these governance arrangements, and their (intended and unintended) impacts on global health policy and practice. In doing so, the module will draw on contributions from a range of social sciences including sociology, political science and health services research.


This course will be delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars totalling a minimum 25 hours during Michaelmas Term. Seminars will be discussion-based and take place in small groups each week. 

There will be a departmental reading week in week 6 of term.

Formative coursework

One essay (1000 words) focusing on different approaches to framing global health

Indicative reading

Frenk, J., & Moon, S. (2013). Governance challenges in global health. New England Journal of Medicine, 368(10), 936-942.

Taylor, S. (2018). ‘Global health’: meaning what?. BMJ Global Health, 3(2) e000843.

Davies, S. (2010). Global politics of health. Polity.

McInnes, C., & Lee, K. (2012). Global health and international relations. Polity.


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

One extended essay (4000 words) will be due at the end of MT. Essay questions will be provided at the start of the course, or students are welcome to select an essay topic of their choice, with approval from the course convener.  

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.

Student performance results

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 15.1
Merit 64.5
Pass 19.9
Fail 0.5

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: Health Policy

Total students 2020/21: 80

Average class size 2020/21: 10

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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