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The University of Southampton

PAIR3041 Politics of Global Health

Module Overview

This module provides an overview of the politics surrounding efforts to safeguard and promote human health worldwide. Drawing on ideas and information from within and beyond the discipline of International Relations, it incorporates five overlapping perspectives on risks to human health and opportunities for health improvement: biomedicine, economics, power, security, and justice. The module is informed by ongoing research in the Department of Politics and International Relations (PAIR), and it complements other modules that explore issues of global governance, global ethics, and foreign and security policy.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

- to introduce students to ongoing academic and policy debates about the place of health in international relations and global politics. - to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to examine critically the arguments and categories invoked in these debates. - to analyse how these arguments and categories might be affected by social change and changes in disease patterns. - to relate such an examination to contemporary and historical examples of political challenges associated with human health.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Identify and explain global political challenges associated with safeguarding and promoting human health
  • Demonstrate empirical knowledge of a range of past, present and potential disease risks
  • Explain, apply and critique theories of international relations in the context of global health
  • Engage critically and sensitively with other disciplinary perspectives on global health issues
  • Analyse and critique the assumptions underpinning economic, foreign and security policies related to health
  • Evaluate and generate ideas for responding ethically to global health challenges


This module provides you with a timely opportunity to engage with big ideas and high-stakes issues in a dynamic and complex area of scholarship and policy making. Today, the public health burden of infectious diseases (e.g. HIV/AIDS, pandemic influenza, cholera and Zika) is an ongoing concern worldwide, and the control of non-infectious diseases (diabetes, tobacco-related illnesses, violent injuries, etc.) is increasingly the subject of international and global cooperation. Topics explored in Politics of Global Health include: emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases; the health impact of trade and aid policies; the role of the World Health Organization in the context of global health governance; the interconnectedness of war and disease; biotechnology research risks and the problem of biological weapons; health in foreign and security policy; and global health ethics. The overall aim of the module is to enable you to acquire a stronger, critical and cross-disciplinary understanding of these topics and the conceptual and empirical connections between

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Student learning will be achieved through a combination of interactive lectures, group-based tutorial discussions and debates, and independent study. Learning activities and assessment tasks are designed to encourage critical thinking, intellectual autonomy, and evidence-based argument.

Independent Study126
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Background textbooks.  Alison Bashford (ed.), Medicine at the Border: Disease, Globalization and Security, 1850 to the Present, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. Solomon Benatar and Gillian Brock, Global Health and Global Health Ethics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Sara E. Davies, Global Politics of Health, Cambridge, Polity, 2009. Stefan Elbe, Security and Global Health: Toward the Medicalization of Insecurity, Polity, 2010. Christian Enemark and Michael J. Selgelid (eds.), Ethics and Security Aspects of Infectious Disease Control: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Farnham: Ashgate, 2012. David P. Fidler and Lawrence O. Gostin, Biosecurity in the Global Age: Biological Weapons, Public Health and the Rule of Law, Stanford University Press, 2008. Laurie Garrett, Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health, Oxford University Press, 2001. Colin McInnes and Kelley Lee, Global Health and International Relations, Polity, 2012. William H. McNeill, Plagues and Peoples, New York: Anchor Books, 1998. Jeremy Youde, Global Health Governance, Cambridge: Polity, 2012.



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  ( words) 50%
Essay proposal  ( words) 10%
Exam  (1.5 hours) 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam  (2 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisite: PAIR1001


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


Students are responsible for meeting the cost of any essential textbooks, and of producing such essays and/or other assignments as are required to fulfill the academic requirements for their programme of study.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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