Health Policy, Power and Politics - SO603

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
(version 2)
Autumn 6 15 (7.5) PROF M Calnan checkmark-circle


'This module provides an analysis of health policy primarily focusing on recent policy changes in the UK and identifying the major influences which have shaped these policies. There have been considerable changes in health service policy and public health policy in the UK over the last two decades involving changes to existing policies and the development of new policy themes. The latter have included the rise and fall of policies aimed at social inequalities and the decline in life expectancy in some areas; the increasing emphasis on 'nudging' lifestyle change and on wellbeing in public health policy; a continued focus on the views and/or the voice of the user and the public and increasing emphasis on democratizing the health service and co-production; the re-emergence of the importance of environmental health policy; the marketisation and privatisation of health care in the context of a reduction in public funding; the introduction of managerialism and the attempts to regulate the medical profession and the effectiveness of priority setting agencies such as NICE with their emphasis on evidence based decision making This module is theoretically informed and the approach taken lays emphasis on the interplay of powerful structural interests such as the influence of professional medicine and other occupational groups, the media (including the social media), the pharmaceutical industry, the food industry, commercial health care companies, the State and the socio-political values associated with the government in power, patient’s groups, the third sector and the wider global environment.'


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

22 hours contact time and 128 hours private study

Method of assessment

50% coursework (one 2,500 word essay) and 50% written examination (summer term)

Indicative reading

*Alaszewski A and Brown P (2012) Making Health Policy: A Critical Introduction, Polity
Annandale E (2014) The Sociology of Health and Medicine, Polity ( chapter 7 and chapter 8)
*Baggott R (2015) Understanding Health Policy, Palgrave MacMillan
Bambra C (2016) Health Divides; Where you live can kill you, Policy Press
Exworthy M et al (eds) (2016) Shaping Health Policy, Policy press
**Gabe J and Calnan M (eds) (2009)The New Sociology of the Health Service, Routledge
*Gabe J and Monaghan L (2013) Key concepts in medical sociology, Sage
* Greener I (2008) Health care in the UK: Understanding Continuity and Change, Polity
Ham C (2019) Health Policy in Britain: Palgrave MacMillan
*Harrison S and Mcdonald R (2008) The Politics of Health Care in Britain, Sage
Crinson I (2009), Health Policy, A Critical Perspective, Sage
Hunter, D (2016) Health Debate, Policy Press

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will:

Have an understanding of recent developments and contemporary debates in health and health policy in the UK he process by which health policy is shaped and implemented in the UK.

Have an understanding of the influence of the state, professional medicine, the pharmaceutical industry and patient groups in shaping these policies.

Apply different theories to the analysis of policy developments in this field.

Evaluate and criticise research evidence, engaging directly with research materials (both quantitative and qualitative) and official date and statistics.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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