The Anthropology of Global Health

Course content

The overall aim of this course is to investigate connections between anthropology and global health and to understand social and cultural influences of health, sickness, and interventions around the world.

This course introduces students to core concepts in medical anthropology relevant for the analysis of individual response to illness and affliction and for an understanding of how relationships between patients and health care providers are shaped.

Key course topics include: Population dynamics and the relation to global health; health, wealth and global power structures; illness narratives and therapeutic trajectories, health care systems and healing traditions; life-course, lifestyles as well as the role of medical technologies.

Throughout the course, students will be encouraged to think critically and creatively about health problems and policies and to envision innovative and effective responses to some of the main health challenges. Furthermore, students will be introduced to writing policy briefs.


MSc Programme in Global Health - compulsory

Learning outcome

Learning objectives:

On completion of the course, students should be able to:


  • Understand health care practices and perceptions in the broader social and political context.
  • Describe and discuss social and cultural factors influencing health, sickness and therapy in low- middle and high-income societies
  • Identify and discuss, from an anthropological point of view, the role of  different stakeholders at international, national, and local levels.
  • Describe main global health challenges and discuss possible responses to these challenges



  • Work in inter-disciplinary settings
  • Apply relevant theoretical concepts in the analysis of selected social and cultural aspects influencing health care practices.
  • Communicate research-based knowledge efficiently through such genres as policy briefs and portfolio development.



  • Critically evaluate (selected) central aspects of health care interventions from an equity perspective
  • Develop and present short analyses of selected health care challenges based on case studies and/or critical reading of articles.
  • Demonstrate good communication competencies

Different pedagogical approaches will be used during the module:

• Formal lectures by selected teachers followed by discussions
• Group assignments (both small class-room assignments as well as home-work assignments)
• Case-work
• Student presentations
• Portfolio development
• Peer-feedback
• Workshop on policy briefs

The reading list includes peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. In addition, we include film cuts and if relevant newspaper articles in the teaching.

Must hold a bachelor degree in a relevant scientific discipline, including 5 ECTS course work in qualitative and quantitative research methodology, respectively.

Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)

The course responsible offers general feedback after the exam. In addition, we will include one or two peer-feedback sessions after the portfolio(s).

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
The student must hand-in a total of 3 portfolios at three specific (given) dates (one portfolio on each of the dates) during the course in order to have portfolio 2 and 3 assessed by the examiners. The first two portfolios must be handed-in in Absalon. The third and final portfolio must be handed-in in Digital Exam no later than the date determined in the exam plan.

The portfolios are individual assignments.

The length of each portfolio should max be 8.000 characters incl. spaces. The total length of the three portfolios should be maximum 24.000 characters incl. spaces (excl. title page and references, incl. notes).

The purpose of the portfolios is to ensure that students work in depth with the course
material during the course rather than at the end of the course only.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
More than one internal examiner.
Criteria for exam assessment


To achieve the maximum grade of 12, the student must be able to demonstrate


- on the social and cultural factors influencing health, sickness and therapy in low-, middle and high-income

-on the broader social and political context for an understanding of  health care practices and perceptions

- on the role of different stakeholders at international, national and local levels


- related to the analysis of selected social and cultural aspects of health care in a global context

-related to the formulation of short policy briefs on current global health issues

- in critical evaluation of central (selected) health care policies and interventions applying core concepts from medical anthropology and related fields


  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 32
  • Preparation
  • 145
  • Exam
  • 30
  • English
  • 207