Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

POPLHLTH 718 - Health and Public Policy

15 Points

Semester 1



A discussion of policy studies frameworks, and how these can be used to analyse policy issues and processes relevant to health and healthcare.

Programme and course advice

This course is recommended for the following pathways in the Public Health programme:

General, Health Promotion, Environmental Health and Health Services Management.

It is also an optional course for the BHSc Honours programme.

Course aims

Each day of the course focuses on a specific theme.

Day 1: This first day introduces the broad topic of health policy, and focuses on the definition of policy problems and policy-relevant knowledge.

Day 2: Focuses on policy processes, policy instruments and power.

Day 3: Student presentations related to the second assignment constitute the bulk of Day 3. We also begin our coverage of theories and frameworks for understanding and explaining policy outcomes.

Day 4: Continues with theories and frameworks for understanding how health policy is formed and tools for comparing how similar policy issues are dealt with in different national contexts.

Goals of the course

This course aims to provide students with conceptual tools for analysing and understanding health policy issues, and which can also be used as a basis for more effective participation in policy debates and policy processes.

Learning outcomes 

After completing this course, students should be able to:

  • Describe and analyse specific policy issues and debates
  • Understand a range of contrasting approaches to policy and policymaking in the health sector.
  • Develop skills in constructing analytical and advocacy-oriented arguments
  • Understand and apply policy studies explanatory frameworks to a specific health policy case study 


The assessment profile for the paper is based on three written assignments and an oral presentation. The relative weightings are shown below.

Policy Report (35%): (2500 words)

Developing a report on a case study policy issue

Oral Presentation (25%)

Students will be required to give a 10 minute oral presentation Day 3 of the course on one of a pre-defined range of topics. Each student will prepare a submission representing the standpoint of a particular organisation with an interest in the policy issue.

Assignment 2 (40%): (3000 words)

Topic: Using theoretical models and frameworks to explain health policy outcomes

Learning and teaching

The course is offered in Auckland and occupies four full days as outlined above.

Campus teaching dates

This course is held at Tāmaki Campus. Please see your timetable on SSO or Building 730 Reception noticeboard on the day for the room details.

Learning resources

A course outline is given to each student enrolling before early July two weeks in advance of their first day of class. This course book also contains lists of additional readings pertinent to the course. There are additional readings that can be accessed electronically through the Library Course Page.

There is also a text book for the course. It is:

Buse, K, N. Mays & G. Walt (2012), Making Health Policy (2nd edition). Maidenhead UK: Open University Press.

Another highly recommended text is:

Gauld, R (2009), The New Health Policy. Maidenhead UK: Open University Press.

Copies will be available from UBS bookshops at both City and Tāmaki Campuses and you can also order a copy over the internet

Website: http://www.ubsbooks.co.nz

Email: ubsbooks@ubsbooks.co.nz

Course Coordinator

Course Administrator