DV465      Half Unit
Global Health Work: Expertise and Labour

This information is for the 2022/23 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/CIPD), MSc in Human Rights, MSc in Human Rights and Politics, MSc in Inequalities and Social Science, MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies 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 politics of professionalism, 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 13 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

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

Formative feedback on an essay outline is provided.

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) in the ST.
Blog post (10%) and blog post (20%) in the LT.

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

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Controlled access 2021/22: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Communication