Module lead: Dr Sophie Harman
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This module will provide students with a conceptual and empirical understanding of global public health and the importance of its inter-relationship with international politics. The module is divided into two parts. The first part focuses on the historical relationship between global public health and international politics, conceptual understandings of health and disease, and emerging issues and international institutions that have come to dominate the field of international health. The second part of the course considers three case studies as a means for students to apply what they have learnt in the first section to more empirical research: HIV/AIDS, addiction (tobacco, drugs, illegality and war) and population (obesity, malnutrition, and populations control). By the end of the course students will have knowledge of conceptual understandings of public health; awareness of the key issues and debates; understanding of the role of states and international organisations; comprehensive knowledge of three health issues; and how these issues relate to wider understandings of global governance and international political economy.

The inter-connectedness of people and the growth of inequality from economic globalisation have led to new and complex health issues that threaten human and financial security. This course looks at conceptual and empirical understandings of global health and its increased importance to international politics. Students will study the complexity of health issues such as HIV/AIDS, tobacco, and obesity and how they have generated a particular form of international relations between states, international organisations, non-governmental actors, private philanthropists, and the body. The course will draw on questions of liberty, justice, and equality in how we think about health politics, how the United Nations aim of health for all can be realised, and what it really means.


• Demonstrate conceptual and empirical knowledge of the complex inter-relationship between global health and international politics.
• Develop an understanding of the role of states, international organisations, private philanthropy and civil society in shaping and providing global health outcomes.
• Demonstrate detailed understanding of specific health issues and be able to conceptualise them within the context of global health.
• Articulate persuasive arguments that integrate empirical and theoretical material and enable constructive and critical discussion.
• Apply advanced understanding to problem-solving and critical theories of contemporary global health concerns
• Draw together research from global public health and politics and international relations


Key texts
• Elbe, Stefan. Security and global health. Cambridge: Polity, 2010.
• Evans, T. 2002. ‘A human right to health?’ Third World Quarterly 23(2): 197-215
• Global Health Watch. 2008. Global Health Watch 2 London: Zed Books
• Harman, S. 2012. Global Health Governance London: Routledge
• Lee, K., Buse, K., and Fustukian, S. 2002. Health Policy in a Globalising World Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
• Garrett, L. 2003. Betrayal of Trust: The collapse of global public health Oxford: Oxford University Press
• Glantz S. 2000. ‘The truth about big tobacco in its own words’ British Medical Journal 316:1553
• Green, J. and Labonte, R. 2007. Critical Perspectives in Public Health London: Routledge
• McCoy, D., Kembhavi, G., Patel, J., and Luintel, A. (2009). ‘The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s grant-making programme for global health’ The Lancet 373: 1645-1653
• McInnes, C. 2006. ‘HIV/AIDS and Security’ International Affairs 82(2):315-326
• McKee, M., Garner, P., and Stott, R. 2001. International Co-operation and health Oxford: Oxford University Press
• McNamara, Robert, ‘Population and International Security’, International Security, vol. 2, no. 2, Fall 1977, pp. 25-55.
• Nestle, Marion. 2002. Food Politics: How the food industry influences nutrition and health, London: University of California Press
• Pisani, E. 2008. The Wisdom of Whores: bureaucrats, brothels, and the business of AIDS London: Granta Books
• Shilts, R. 1987. And the Band Played On London: St Martins
• Stillwaggon, E. 2003. ‘Racial metaphors: interpreting sex and AIDS in Africa’ Development and Change 34(5): 809-832
• Wood, E. et al. 2009. ‘The war on drugs: a devastating public-policy disaster’ The Lancet 373 (9668)
• Youde, Jeremy. “Mediating risk through the International Health Regulations and biopolitical surveillance.” Political Studies 59,4 (2011): 813-829.


(i) class presentation (15%); 3,000 word research essay (85%)