Not available in 2023/24
DV421      Half Unit
Critical Perspectives on Global Health and Development

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Philipa Mladovsky CON.6.13


This course is available on the MSc in Anthropology and Development, MSc in Anthropology and Development Management, MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Global Health Policy, MSc in Global Politics, MSc in Health and International Development, MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies, MSc in Political Economy of Late Development, MSc in Urban Policy (LSE and Sciences Po) and MSc in Urbanisation and Development. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Places will be allocated with priority to ID and joint-degree students.  If there are more ID and joint-degree students than DV421 can accommodate, these places will be allocated randomly.  Non-ID/Joint Degree students will be allocated to spare places by random selection with the preference given first to those degrees where the regulations permit this option.

Course content

The course is concerned with health and international development in its social, cultural, historical, economic and political context. Students will learn to think critically about how global health policy and practice reproduce and/or change power relations - between states, communities and individuals. The course does this by exploring the history of global health, interrogating taken-for granted concepts and understanding how they have been socially constructed and suggesting alternative perspectives. Drawing on anthropological, sociological and other literature, it investigates how global health policies reproduce, change or are changed by values, morals, ethics and people’s identity and subjectivity. Themes that run through the course include: legacies of colonialism; the critique of neoliberalism; and interrogating positivism in global health research. Case studies are drawn mainly from sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and Asia and typically focus on specific diseases, conditions or parts of the health system. Drawing on theories of power such as structural violence and governmentality, the course will enable students to question mainstream global health policy initiatives which might seek to promote equity and human rights, but may instead create new exclusions and marginalised populations.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars in the LT. Seminars will be at or upwards of 45 minutes duration and lectures will be at or above 60 minutes duration.

Student on this course will have a reading week in Week 6.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to prepare at least one class presentation and submit one essay.

Indicative reading

A detailed weekly reading list will be provided at the first lecture. The readings for this course are from journals and select book chapters mainly but not exclusively in the fields of anthropology and sociology. Readings will also include case studies from various countries and reports, papers and articles published by international organisations, think-tanks, and a variety of other sources.

Farmer, P., Kim, J.Y., Kleinman, A. and Basilico, M., 2013. Reimagining global health: an introduction. Univ of California Press.

Biehl, J. and Petryna, A. eds., 2013. When people come first: critical studies in global health. Princeton University Press.

Adams, V., 2016. Metrics: What counts in global health. Duke University Press.

Geissler, P.W., Rottenburg, R. and Zenker, J. eds., 2014. Rethinking biomedicine and governance in Africa: Contributions from anthropology (Vol. 15). transcript Verlag.

Dry, S. and Leach, M. eds., 2010. Epidemics:" Science, Governance and Social Justice". Routledge.

Packard RM. 2016. A history of global health: interventions into the lives of other peoples. JHU Press

Lock, M.M. and Nguyen, V.K., 2018. An anthropology of biomedicine. John Wiley & Sons

Ong, A. and Collier, S.J. 2005. Global Assemblages: Technology, Politics, and Ethics as Anthropological Problems. Blackwell Publishing

Birn, A.E., Pillay, Y. and Holtz, T.H., 2017. Textbook of global health. Oxford University Press.


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

The take-home assessment will take the form of a take-home essay (100%, 3,000 words) due at the start of Summer Term.

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2022/23: 49

Average class size 2022/23: 16

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (LT)

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
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication