Health Policy, Power and Politics - SOCI6030

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Autumn Term 6 15 (7.5) Michael Calnan checkmark-circle


This module will introduce students to the analysis of health policy 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 health policy in the UK over the last decade 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 provides an analysis of these recent policy developments. It 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.


Contact hours

Total contact time: 22 hours.
Private study: 128 hours
Total Study hours: 150 hours


BA Health & Social Care
BA Social Policy
The module is open to other students within the School and Faculty who have an interest in health policy.

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

Coursework – essay (2500 words) – 50%
Examination (2 hours) – 50%

Reassessment methods

100% Coursework

Indicative reading

Alaszewski A and Brown P (2012) Making Health Policy: A Critical Introduction, Polity, Cambridge
Annandale E (2014) The Sociology of Health and Medicine, 2nd Edition, Polity Cambridge, (chapter 7 and chapter 8)
Baggott R (2015) Understanding Health Policy, 2nd edition, Policy Press, Bristol
Bambra C (2016) Health Divides; Where you live can kill you, Policy Press, Bristol
Calnan M (2020) Health Policy, Power and Politics: Sociological Insights, Emerald Press, Bingley
Crinson I (2009) Health Policy: A critical perspective, Sage, London
Exworthy M et al (eds) (2016) Shaping Health Policy – Case Study methods and analysis Policy Press, Bristol
Gabe J and Calnan M (eds) (2009) The New Sociology of the Health Service, Routledge, Abingdon
Gabe J and Monaghan L (2013) Key concepts in Medical Sociology, Sage, Los Angeles
Hunter D (2016) The Health Debate, 2nd edition, Policy Press, Bristol
Klein R (2017) The New Politics of the NHS: From Creation to Reinvention 7th Edition, Ratcliffe Publishing, London

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

8.1 Have an understanding of recent developments and contemporary debates in health and health policy in the UK
8.2 Have an understanding of the influence of the state, professional medicine, the pharmaceutical industry and patient groups in shaping
these policies
8.3 Apply different theories to the analysis of policy development in this field
8.4 Evaluate and criticise research evidence, engaging directly with research materials (both quantitative and qualitative) and official data and

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

9.1 Show their verbal and written skills through essay writing and debate.
9.2 Demonstrate their critical and analytic thinking.
9.3 Show their research skills through library based investigation and through essay writing.
9.4 Demonstrate an understanding of contemporary research evidence and debates.
9.5 Evaluate empirical material both quantitative and qualitative and apply theoretical ideas to it.
9.6 Study independently.


  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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