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Unit information: Inequalities in Health, Poverty and Development in 2015/16

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Unit name Inequalities in Health, Poverty and Development
Unit code SPOL31021
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Heslop
Open unit status Not open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


According to the World Health Organisation the world's biggest killer and the greatest cause of ill health and suffering across the globe is listed almost at the end of the International Classification of Diseases. It is given code Z59.5 -- extreme poverty. The possibility of improving the health of the world’s population by ending poverty during the 21st Century has gained increasing public and political support. This unit will examine the scientific and policy debates about how to eliminate poverty and reduce wider inequalities in health using a sustainable development approach.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of the unit, students will:

  • Be well informed on the academic and policy debate on poverty,exclusion and inequalities in health.
  • Have a clear understanding of the concepts of poverty, development and inequalities in health, including gender, disability and age inequalities.
  • Be able to discuss different definitions and meanings of ‘poverty’, ‘inequality’ and ‘exclusion’ both in a UK and in a global context.
  • Be able to identify and discuss key data on patterns of global poverty and inequalities in resources and health.
  • Be familiar with theoretical and empirical analysis of the causal pathways running, in both directions, between health and material living standards (wealth, inequality).
  • Have a clear understanding of the right to health care and the rationing of scarce resources, and the impact of both on global inequalities in health.

Teaching details

Lectures and seminars including student led presentations.

Assessment Details

Formative assessment: Poster presentation in small group, within seminar time.

Summative assessment: One 3000 word essay from a list of titles.

Reading and References

  • Commission on Social Determinants of Health (2008) Final Report: Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health. Geneva, WHO (
  • Hofrichter R (Ed) (2003) Health and Social Justice: politics, ideology and inequality in the distribution of disease. San Francisco, John Wiley & Sons.
  • Leon D & Walt G (2001) Poverty, Inequality and Health: an international perspective Oxford University Press
  • Minujin A & Nandy S. (2013) Global child poverty and well-being. Measurement, concepts, policy and action. Bristol: Policy Press.
  • Townsend, P. and Gordon D. (2002) World poverty: New policies to defeat an old enemy. Bristol: Policy Press
  • UNDP (2003) Human Development Report 2003: Millennium Development Goals a compact among nations to end human poverty. Oxford.
  • UNDP (2014) Human Development Report 2014. Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience.
  • WHO (2015) Global Action on the Social Determinants Of Health To Address Health Equity. Supplementary report on progress in implementing the Rio Political Declaration on Social Determinants of Health and WHA65.8