Module Catalogue 2024/25

HSC8047 : Public Policy, Health and Health Inequalities

HSC8047 : Public Policy, Health and Health Inequalities

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Shelina Visram
  • Lecturer: Dr Chioma Nwaru, Professor Janice McLaughlin, Dr Laura Woods, Dr Christina Dobson, Professor Sheena Ramsay, Dr Steph Scott, Mr Liam Spencer, Professor Clare Bambra, Dr Gemma Frances Spiers, Professor Heather Smith
  • Owning School: Population Health Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
European Credit Transfer System

Modules you must have done previously to study this module

Pre Requisite Comment



Modules you need to take at the same time

Co Requisite Comment



The aims of the module are to enable students to:
I.       Understand how sociological perspectives on health, illness and medicine are fundamental to an understanding of contemporary society
II.       Provide an introduction to: social science and health; social structure and health (social class, gender, ethnicity, age, disability); public policy
III.       Extend their understanding of the origins of health inequalities, the social determinants of health and socioeconomic gradients in health
IV.       Understand the role of public policy and practice in tackling health inequalities in the jurisdictions where they are likely to work as researchers and practitioners

Outline Of Syllabus

This module focuses on health inequalities within countries and responses to them. The module will be delivered through a series of interactive lectures and seminars, and draw on local, national and international case studies to illustrate the application of social theory, empirical health research, policy and practice in ‘real world’ settings. The module will begin with an overview of sociological ideas and perspectives as an introduction to the discipline. This will lead into discussion of the social context of health and health inequalities at macro and micro sociological levels. The case for an understanding of social factors in health,
wellbeing and illness will be made by considering a range of social divisions (social class, gender, ethnicity, age, disability) and disadvantaged groups.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

By the end of the module the students will be able to:
•Understand the role of sociology as applied to public policy, health and medicine and its range of application
•Be aware of the role of sociological theory and be able to apply the principles appropriately to a health issue
•Understand the importance of various forms of social division in public policy, health and medicine (social class, gender, ethnicity, age, disability)
•Build on the knowledge of social theory to analyse macro- and micro-level topics
•Develop a critical understanding of the theoretical and conceptual background to social inequalities in health
•Be aware of the evidence base for reducing these health inequalities
•Understand the challenges in developing and implementing policies for reducing health inequalities

Intended Skill Outcomes

By the end of the module the students will be able to:
•Develop a critical awareness in order to appraise, analyse and interpret specific topic areas in public policy, health and medicine
•Draw on the theoretical, conceptual and critical approach of sociology, to construct sound verbal and written arguments

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials13:003:00Non-synchronous online
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion201:0020:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading621:0062:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:3015:00Present in person: Includes interactive exercises and group discussion
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Most of the learning outcomes relate to critiquing and/or analysing the subject. The students are encouraged to incorporate their own experience into their learning to enhance the benefits of the module. Knowledge and understanding is developed by lecture materials, seminars and interactive group work. Most sessions include exercises and small and large group discussion to facilitate critique and analysis of the subject. Students will be given at least one reading (paper, book chapter) in advance of each session and will be expected/encouraged to actively contribute to seminar discussions.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M1002000 word essay
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Essay1MEssay plan (one side of A4 - 300 words max: comprising essay structure and content)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessed essay enables students to demonstrate, in depth, the application of sociological principles and/or one or more theories of health inequality to a health topic. The assignment will indicate the degree to which students’ have read around the topic and evaluate their skills in analysing and criticising information. The assignment will demonstrate students’ ability to construct a coherent argument. Students will receive timely feedback on their formative essay plan, which will help in writing the final essay.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Welcome to Newcastle University Module Catalogue

This is where you will be able to find all key information about modules on your programme of study. It will help you make an informed decision on the options available to you within your programme.

You may have some queries about the modules available to you. Your school office will be able to signpost you to someone who will support you with any queries.


The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2024 academic year.

In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described.

Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2025/26 entry will be published here in early-April 2025. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.