Not available in 2023/24
HP412      Half Unit
Global Health Security

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Clare Wenham COW 1.03


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

Course content

Global health security has become a dominant paradigm in global health. Recent outbreaks of COVID-19, Ebola, Zika and pandemic influenza have heightened the global sense of vulnerability to the spread of infectious disease, and as a consequence global health policy is now complete with references to such health emergencies. These threats are even listed on national security strategies of many governments, and as such we see the ever increasing link between security and health across policy areas and levels. As we have all witnessed, COVID-19 has affected every part of the world, and every part of socio-economic life as we know it. Thus, we must understand how this has happened, and what we can do to prevent the next outbreak, and mitigate against future downstream effects of pandemics.

This course interrogates this health-security nexus. It considers different conceptual understandings of security including global health security, national security, biosecurity and human security and considers these in multiple health contexts. These empirical explorations include COVID-19, Ebola, Zika, Anti-microbial resistance (AMR) and conflict and health. Yet, this course also asks students to consider the assumptions inherent to the security discourse, and the challenges these has on global health policymaking. Should the global health community be championing global health security, or has the terminology run its course.

To examine these concepts, empirics and broader political questions, this module will draw on contributions from international relations, political science, law, epidemiology and public health research.


This course will be delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars totalling a minimum 20 hours during MT. Seminars will be led by a small group of students who will present the key discussion points to their colleagues. Small group work will be undertaken in the seminars to allow for more in-depth discussion and class debate. Additional seminar activities will provide students will real-life scenarios of global health security crises. Activities will aim to bring to life the theories, challenges and politics discussed during the course.

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

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the AT.

Students will submit a short 1000 word essay (on the topic that they are writing on for the summative) during the teaching term. These will be graded and feedback given to students. This allows students to get valuable experience of writing critical essays have they not before in previous modules or degrees, and the expectations of the summative assessment. For example, if a student’s formative work flagged particular concerns this could be addressed ahead of the summative submission.

Indicative reading

  • McInnes, C., & Lee, K. (2006). Health, foreign policy and security. Rev Int Stud, 32, 5-23.
  • Rushton, S. (2011) Global Health Security: Security for Whom? Security for What?, Political Studies 59 (4): 779 -796
  • Davies, S. E. (2008). Securitizing infectious disease. International Affairs, 84(2), 295-313.
  • Chen, L., & Narasimhan, V. (2003). Human security and global health. Journal of Human Development, 4(2), 181-190.
  • Rushton, S., & Youde, J. (Eds.). (2014). Routledge handbook of global health security. Routledge.
  • Elbe, S. (2005). AIDS, security, biopolitics. International relations, 19(4), 403-419.
  • King, N. B. (2002). Security, disease, commerce: ideologies of postcolonial global health. Social studies of science, 32(5-6), 763-789.
  • O’Manique, C. (2005). The “securitisation” of HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa: a critical feminist lens. Policy and Society, 24(1), 24-47.
  • Heymann, D. L., Chen, L., Takemi, K., Fidler, D. P., Tappero, J. W., Thomas, M. J., ... & Kalache, A. (2015). Global health security: the wider lessons from the west African Ebola virus disease epidemic. The Lancet, 385(9980), 1884-1901.
  • Ooms, G., Beiersmann, C., Flores, W., Hanefeld, J., Müller, O., Mulumba, M., ... & Jahn, A. (2017). Synergies and tensions between universal health coverage and global health security: why we need a second ‘Maximizing Positive Synergies’ initiative. BMJ global health, 2(1), e000217.


Essay (75%, 3500 words) and blog post (25%) in the AT.

1 x 3500 word essay – 75% of grade

Students will be asked to pick one essay question. They will be given the option to choose their own essay topic (after discussion with their seminar leader) or to select from a provided list of questions. The questions will be broad, allowing for student individuality to come across in their answers.

1 x Blog post – 25% of grade

Students will be assessed on their reflections of the course and any role play activity undertaken.  

Key facts

Department: Health Policy

Total students 2022/23: 25

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

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills