Current Debates in Health and Health Policy

Please note: this is archived course information from 2022 for SOCSCIPH 300.


The course provides an interdisciplinary social science approach to the analysis of health and health policy debates in New Zealand, set in a context of international health policy. The course considers the broader social factors that influence health and health policy, and provides detailed discussion of related case studies of health, health services and selected policies. The relationship between research, policy and health is also examined.

Key themes in the course include the "medicalisation" of social issues, the "socialisation" of medical issues, cross-national health policy analysis, defining and measuring health outcomes (accountability and responsibility in health service delivery) and health in a diverse society. A broad range of social theories are employed to "open up" health and policy problems to critical scrutiny and investigate the impacts of current policies.

The course focuses on understanding issues of scale within health and social issues – including consideration of how society works at an individual, family, community and government level to facilitate or constrain policy solutions and opportunities for individuals and populations to influence the decisions that influence their health, wellbeing and daily lives. The broad and encompassing interdisciplinary approach that is taken highlights policy impacts in everyday life. 

Coursework and readings explore how health and policy issues are constructed in the public sphere with reference to sociocultural and place-based phenomena, as well as issues of political economy. Students learn to evaluate the efficacy of attempted policy solutions through analysis of factors that facilitate and constrain the success of current policies.

The question of how "healthy" environments may be produced and sustained among different populations through broad sociocultural processes is approached through critical consideration of how social factors – proximal to distal – contribute to a variety of public health solutions.



Coursework + exam

Availability 2022

Not taught in 2022



Recommended Reading

Keleher, H. and MacDouball, C. (2016). Understanding health (4th ed.). Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Victoria.


Coursework + exam


SOCSCIPH 300: 15 points