Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

POPLHLTH 717 - Health and Society

15 Points

Semester 2



An exploration of health within a social context. Examines the relationships between social factors, their impact on health, and the ways in which these relationships inform our understanding of health and help direct healthcare provision and public health policy.

Programme and course advice

This course is suitable for a public health or health sciences programme. It is highly recommended for those taking a general public health programme pathway. 

Course aims

Content outline

Each block day is focused around a particular theme:

 Day 1: Key measures of health and society.

 Day 2: The geography of health and society (including field visit to Glen Innes).

 Day 3: Models for understanding the causes and consequences of social inequalities in health.

 Day 4: Solutions to reduce social inequalities in health.


Goals of the course

The intention of this course is to critically evaluate measures of health and society. Using theories and examples from a multi-disciplinary viewpoint, we explore different perspectives of the causes and consequences of health outcomes.


Learning outcomes 

1. Critically assess measures of health and society from different political and disciplinary perspectives.

2. Synthesise evidence concerning poverty, deprivation and socioeconomic position in New Zealand and internationally.

3. Critique the ethics and issues concerning use of existing approaches of using big data to inform health and social policies

4. Use health and social data to investigate how health outcomes are affected by specific social factors

Learning and teaching

The course runs over the second semester and requires attendance at the four one-day block sessions. This is a graduate course and these sessions are highly interactive, where students are encouraged to contribute and share their knowledge for the benefit of the group.

Each day will comprise introductory lectures, facilitated discussions and computer-based exercises. Students are expected to come prepared, as they will be expected to lead the critical discussions of relevant materials in class. This course includes a field trip in the local community. Preparation requires committing sufficient time to independent reading and learning. Students are encouraged to form network study groups for discussion and sharing resources.


Campus teaching dates

Please see your timetable on SSO or Building 730 Reception noticeboard on the day for the room details.


This course comprises 100% coursework. Full details of the assessments including due dates and marking rubrics will be available on Canvas. Assessment for this course includes:

 A statement of positionality

 A field observation study of the social gradient locally

 A critique of the socio-political context of popular music and its relevance today

 An in-class presentation 

Learning resources

The presentations from each teaching day will be made available several days prior to each block day where possible. It is recommended that students bring a copy (electronic or printed) of these to each class so that they can make additional notes during each session.

A reading list will be made available for each teaching day on CANVAS. It is expected that students will have read the readings marked as ‘essential’ prior to coming to class.

Course Director

Course Administrator