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Last modified: 05 Aug 2021 13:04

Course Overview

This course challenges you to engage robustly with questions about what is good and right (and why) in public health policy and practice. You will develop your ability to critique and participate effectively in debates about what matters – and what is morally justified - in efforts to improve the health and wellbeing of communities and populations. You will develop the knowledge and confidence to identify value-based assumptions as you examine a range of real-world health problems and practice justifying and objecting to different strategies for addressing them

Course Details

Study Type Postgraduate Level 5
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Professor Vikki Entwistle

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Any Postgraduate Programme

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?


Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

The course will explore the key concepts and forms of critical reasoning used to discuss the ethical and political appropriateness of efforts to address the health and wellbeing of communities and populations.  It will engage students in reflection and debate about a range of contested issues that arise in public health policy and practice (including the provision of state funding for health services).  The selection of issues will depend partly on topicality and on student interest but might include, for example: notions of responsibility in 'lifestyle', corporate and state behaviours; compulsion in the management of communicable diseases; fairness in responses to social/global inequalities in health.

In light of Covid-19 and the move to blended learning delivery the assessment information advertised for second half-session courses may be subject to change. All updates for second-half session courses will be actioned in advance of the second half-session teaching starting. Please check back regularly for updates.

Summative Assessments

500 word essay (15%)    

Individual presentation (35%)    

2000 word essay (50%)    

Resit for students taking the course in AY20/21:

Written assignment with 5 short answer questions (maximum 400 words each). The resits for this course will take place in week 42

Formative Assessment

1.  Online discussion exercises  

2.  Computer based MCQ

Course Learning Outcomes

Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ConceptualUnderstandIdentify the main forms of ethical and political reasoning used in professional and public debates about the appropriateness of public health interventions, and explain their key strengths and limitat
ConceptualAnalyseReflect critically on different conceptions of key concepts in public health ethics (e.g. health, justice autonomy, responsibility, solidarity, vulnerability) and give examples of their relevance in d
ConceptualEvaluateSummarise the key points of an academic journal article that reports ethical reasoning about a public health topic for presentation to, and critical discussion with, public health colleagues
ProceduralCreateFormulate and communicate a coherent justification of your own position on an ethically contested public health policy/intervention, including an anticipation of, and response to, a likely objection t

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