HP401      Half Unit
Introduction to Health Policy and Politics

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Justin Parkhurst COW 2.08


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

Course content

A comparative approach to the development of health and healthcare policies in high, middle, and low income country settings, emphasising the goals of health policymaking, public health approaches, the political nature of health policy issues, and core concepts from policy studies that can be used to conceptualise policy change dynamcs in health.

The course will introduce concept of risk and risk reducing strategies, theories of planning, and priority setting techniques in health care. In addition, the course will examine the processes and forces shaping the development and implementation of health policy. The course will examine core concepts such as power, the role of the state and other policy stakeholders (e.g. NGOs, international organisations, etc.), institutions, and evidence, in shaping health policy agendas or choices.


This course will be delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars totalling a minimum 23 hours during Autumn Term. Seminars will take place in small groups where students will work together in small groups on structured learning activities set by the course leads. 

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

Formative coursework

Students will sit a mock written exam in the last week of term.

Indicative reading

Green, A., An Introduction to Health Planning for Developing Health Systems, new edn, OUP, 2007.

Walt, Gill. 1994. Health policy: an introduction to process and power. London: Zed Books.

Hill, M. The Policy Process, a reader, second ed. Harlow: Prentice Hall 1997

Buse, Kent, Nick Mays, and Gill Walt. 2012. Making Health Policy. Maidenhead, Berkshire: Open University Press.

D Leon & G Walt (eds), Poverty, Inequality and Health: An international perspective, OUP (2001)

Parkhurst, J. The politics of evidence: from evidence based policy to the good governance of evidence. London Routledge 2016.


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

Student performance results

(2019/20 - 2021/22 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 8.7
Merit 67.3
Pass 21
Fail 2.9

Key facts

Department: Health Policy

Total students 2022/23: 95

Average class size 2022/23: 14

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
  • Specialist skills