SCH-32306 Comparative Health Problems and Policies


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Individual Paper1
Independent study
Course coordinator(s)dr. HM van der Horst
Lecturer(s)dr. HM van der Horst
dr. HHS Moerbeek
dr. JJ Mandemakers
ir. CAA Butijn
dr. S Wahlen
Examiner(s)dr. HM van der Horst

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

HSO-10806 Introduction to Health and Society.


This course offers a framework for the critical analysis of major health issues and invites students to look at these issues as social problems. The course unravels why certain health problems are experienced differently by for example men and women, by people in the Global South and the Global North and in different time periods. Furthermore, what emerges on the agenda as a prominent problem, deserving policy makers attention and governmental funds, is discussed as the outcome of contestation. Policy makers and academics are central players in the arena in which social problems are defined and contested. Lastly, the course looks at the interrelatedness of social problems and related policies at a global level. For example, the migration of health care workers may mitigate care deficits in richer countries, while aggravating care deficits in the countries these migrants hail from.
The course combines lectures with a weekly tutorial and an individual paper. In the tutorial students will familiarize themselves with conceptual tools to critically and comparatively examine health problems and policies. In the lectures current research and theory on concrete health problems and policies will be discussed. Topics vary each year but may include issues such as hygiene, care, physical disability, abortion, autism, ADHD, dementia, obesity and HIV/ AIDS. Students will use the conceptual tools learned during the tutorials to reflect upon those health problems. In their individual paper students will do a critical and comparative analysis of a self-chosen health problem using the concepts learned during the course .
The course is part of the master program Health and Society. It may also be of interest to a wider audience of students eager to increasing their skills in critically analysing the dynamics of social problems in general. With the skills acquired during this course, students will be able to look at any social problem through a critical sociological lens. Furthermore, they will be able to take different perspectives on social problems into account.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
1. explain the practices by which health problems are defined and contested;
2. explain the role of gender and geographic diversity in the definition and contestation of health problems;
4. apply sociological concepts and theories on social problems to specific health issues ;
5. critically assess the interconnectedness of health problems and policies at a global scale;
6. critically assess the role of policy makers and scientists in the definition and contestation of health related social problems;
6. compose a comparative research paper on a specific health problem using sociological perspectives on social problems.


- lectures;
- tutorial;
- individual paper;
- literature study.


- written exam with open questions (70%);
- individual assignments (30%).
Both components require a minimum mark of 5.50 to pass the course.


Scientific articles via MyPortal.

Restricted Optional for: MCHCommunication, Health and Life SciencesMScB: Health and Society5MO