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Unit information: Introduction to health economics for public health in 2021/22

Unit name Introduction to health economics for public health
Unit code BRMSM0007
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Noble
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Medical School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

This module comprises an introduction to health economics, with a focus on issues of resource allocation for public health and for health and care services. A basic understanding of health economics is an essential requirement for all those involved in public health, whether as practitioner, analyst or researcher. The module will begin by introducing basic concepts and principles, before examining the key areas of health economics that are relevant to resource allocation in public health: markets and market failure in health systems, and the role of public/government intervention; allocation through various types of incentive mechanism; and allocation through various approaches to economic evaluation. The latter topic will form a major element of the unit and will include introductions to modelling and the measurement of quality of life, exploration of the roles of efficiency and equity in decision making and examination of frameworks for resource allocation decision-making; The interface between health economics and public health in allocating resources for population health and wellbeing, in the UK and globally, is a key theme of the module.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the unit, the student should be able to:

  1. Explain the notion of resource allocation and define key economic concepts such as scarcity, opportunity cost, margins, efficiency, equity, public goods;
  2. Assess how markets, market failure, incentive mechanisms and planning systems influence resource allocation within health and care;
  3. Distinguish between approaches to resource allocation decisions based on equity and efficiency concerns and explain how such approaches might be applied through different systems;
  4. Critically review normative and practical approaches to resource allocation through economic evaluation and describe its application in public health, and health and care settings in the UK and globally;
  5. Discuss the uses and limitations of methods employed in resource allocation decision making (including modelling and valuation techniques), and recognise the broader links between research methods used in health economics and across public health more generally (including both quantitative and qualitative methods).

Teaching Information

There will be 10 teaching weeks. Teaching will include learning activities set by the tutor including lectures (synchronous and asynchronous), small group work, discussions, individual tasks, and practical activities (face to face or online).

Directed and self-directed learning will include activities such as reading, accessing web-based supplementary materials, critical analysis, and completion of assessments.

Assessment Information

Formative assessments and feedback to enable the ongoing learning of students will be built into all sessions and will include approaches such as the use of exercises, quizzes, group work and discussion, and strategic questioning. There will also be an opportunity for formative feedback to inform the summative coursework.

The unit is assessed by coursework through a 2,500-word written assignment (ILOs 1-5)

A score of 50% will be required to pass the unit.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. BRMSM0007).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.