DV458      Half Unit
Key issues in Global Health and Development

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Tiziana Leone CON 8.11


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Health and International Development. This course is available on the MSc in Anthropology and Development, MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Management (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Economic Policy for International Development, MSc in Gender, MSc in Gender, Development and Globalisation, MSc in Gender, Policy and Inequalities, MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies, MSc in Political Economy of Late Development, MSc in Social Research Methods 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 DV458 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 provides an up-to-date and comprehensive introduction to global health and health system trends in low and middle-income countries. The course examines the main determinants of health issues as they relate to development and their principal consequences, policies and politics to improve health and development; barriers to implementing those policies; and ways of overcoming those barriers. Key topics include the politics of diseases, framing health discourses, governance and the WHO, universal health coverage, impacts of conflict and climate change on health, pharmaceutical governance and global health metrics. Drawing on disciplines such as political science, health policy, demography, sociology and economics, this course argues for the need to improve global health equity in order to contribute to development. It will equip students with the skills needed to work in and help to improve mainstream global health organisations such as WHO, the World Bank, Gates Foundation and MSF among others. The course promotes equality, social justice and human rights as fundamental approaches to global health.


20 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the AT.

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

Formative coursework

Students are expected to prepare a seminar presentation and complete a mock exam during AT.

Indicative reading

The course is supported by an electronic reading list. There is no single key text but here are some indicative readings:  

• Birn, A. et al, 2017, “Textbook of global health”. Oxford University Press

• Marmot, M., et al, 2008, Closing the gap in a generation: health equity through action on the social determinants of health. The lancet, 372(9650), pp.1661-1669

• Shiffman, 2009, “A social explanation for the rise and fall of global health”. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 87(8), 608–613

• Adams, V. 2016, “Metrics: what counts in global health”. Duke University Press

• Kieny, M.P., et al 2017, Strengthening health systems for universal health coverage and sustainable development. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 95(7), p.537.

• Gill et al, (2020), Reflections on the political economy of planetary health in Review of International Political Economy.  Review of International Political Economy. 27:1

• Watts et al. (2019), The 2019 report of The Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: ensuring that the health of a child born today is not defined by a changing climate. The Lancet, 394(10211), pp.1836-1878.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the January exam period.

Student performance results

(2019/20 - 2021/22 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 19.2
Merit 67.3
Pass 12.5
Fail 1

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2022/23: 85

Average class size 2022/23: 18

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (MT)

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