Health and Society (BGM) / BSc


The BSc programme Health and Society focuses on societal relevant issues that affect health of individuals, groups and society, and which are of an inherently complex nature. Specific to this programme is the interdisciplinary social science approach, the focus on the interaction between people and their environment, and the focus on both risks and resources for health. The programme embraces a positive view on health, in which health is more than the absence of disease and is reflected in the ability to have agency over one's life. The focus of the programme is on gaining additional understanding on the factors that contribute to health, rather than focusing solely on what makes people sick. In doing so, the programme adopts a perspective acknowledging that health is not a matter of the 'individual' but can be promoted through actions at different levels. A person's health is influenced by many factors generally referred to as determinants of health: endogenous determinants, exogenous determinants and the prevalent system of health care within a society. Endogenous determinants are those that affect health form the inside, referring to biological factors which may be hereditary or acquired. Exogenous determinants refer to external influences on health and relate to physical environment, life style and social environment. The programme mainly focuses on those exogenous determinants. The third group of determinants consist of the system of health care, referring to health services in relation to care, cure and prevention. Within society, politics, economy, demography, culture and technology play their role. The groups of determinants do not occur in isolation, but interact with each other, and together they influence the health status of individuals and populations. Students of the programme are trained to analyse  societal health issues, to interpret how a wide array of determinants influence health development and outcomes, and to translate research outcomes into action in public health and health care, while combing insights from multiple disciplines and stakeholders. The main disciplines in the programme are grounded in the social sciences, which include sociology, psychology, health promotion, economics, communication and demography. These are complemented with some input from life sciences and environmental sciences. The study prepares students for professions such as researchers, health promoters, health policy advisers or managers of health oriented organisations.

Learning Outcomes

After successful completion of this BSc programme graduates are expected to be able to:
- apply the theoretical approaches and infer the theoretical underpinnings of empirical research of sociology, social psychology and communication to current issues in public health, focussing on health care and prevention, including the interaction between health, lifestyle and the social and physical environment and their effects at various levels (micro, meso and macro);
- explain the governance of public health while applying economic, management and policy-oriented concepts;
- interpret basic social, physical and environmental determinants of health and explain how these determinants interact;
- critically analyse basic public health issues, such as obesity, chronic diseases and inequity in health;
- choose and apply the appropriate qualitative and quantitative social science research methods for data collection and analysis in empirical research, under supervision;
- define public health issues, translate research outcomes into advice, and evaluate policies and programmes for health promotion in various fields of practice and at various levels, under supervision;
- effectively contribute to the design, organisation and management of interventions in the field of public health and collaborate and communicate with (multiple) experts as well as other stakeholders;
- explain the ethical issues that may arise when working as experts in the field of public health;
- compare the multiple interpretations and applications of public health across time and place;
- cooperate in a (multidisciplinary) team to perform project-based work;
- communicate clearly (verbally and in writing) about the results of projects and research and their rational underpinnings with a diversity of public;
- reflect (under supervision) upon personal knowledge, skills, attitudes and functioning, both individually and in discussions with others, and design and plan their own study path.

Programme Director

Ir. G.C. van Nieuwenhoven
Phone: 0317- (4)82500

Study Adviser(s)

- L.W. Debets, MSc
Phone: 0317- (4)83932

Programme Committee

Chair: Dr. H.M. van der Horst
Secretary: Ir. G.C. van Nieuwenhoven


Study Association

Apollo Wageningen, Hollandseweg 1, 6706 KN Wageningen

Unconditional Admission to the MSc

MCH Communication, Health and Life Sciences;
MID International Development Studies;
MME Management, Economics and Consumer Studies.