Society and Health

In this module you will be introduced to key evidence, concepts and theories for a critical understanding of the ideologically contested nature of health in society.

Key facts

  • Module codeNURP025
  • Start date The next intake will be confirmed in March 2024.
  • Duration11 weeks
  • Days on campusNone
  • Credit value SCQF 20
  • SCQF level Level 11
  • Fees 2023-24: £1,167.
  • Mode of study part time
  • Delivery online


Health and well-being are critical issues in society. Health and wellbeing can be understood in a variety of ways and innumerable social factors influence individual and population health.

In this optional module, you will be introduced to key evidence, concepts and theories for a critical understanding of the ideologically contested nature of health in society. This will develop your understanding of the range of inequalities in health and well-being that reflect divisions in social class, structure, wealth, gender, race/ethnicity, age and geography.

You will explore:

  • sociological patterns of health and illness;
  • key sociological approaches for understanding the relationship between health and society, and between health and healthcare provisions;
  • future prospects for public health and health inequalities in the light of social, demographic and technological change.

The module is suitable for both novice and experienced public health practitioners or those looking to work in this area. It is taught by public health researchers from a range of disciplines.

Flexible learning

This short course forms part of the MPH Public Health (Online). You can study other stand-alone continuing professional development (CPD) short courses from this degree:

If you’re interested in studying more than one module from this course, please email our Admissions team at to discuss your course of study.

Entrance requirements

A minimum of a second-class honours degree (2:1 preferred) or equivalent in any subject. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS Academic or UKVI 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each sub-skill.
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic) 56 overall with a minimum of 51 in each sub-skill.
  • IBT TOEFL 78 overall with a minimum of 17 in listening, 18 in reading, 20 in speaking and 17 in writing.

See our information on English language requirements for more details on the language tests we accept and options to waive these requirements.


On successful completion of this module, you should be able to:

  • critically reflect on the nature and scope of sociological perspectives for understanding the relationship between society and health;
  • critically appraise how social structure/class, wealth, gender, race/ethnicity, age and geography impact patterns of illness;
  • demonstrate a critical understanding of trends in and the extent of health inequalities between and within different countries;
  • synthesise and critically appraise key evidence exploring future prospects for health and health practice.

Structure and content

Indicative content:

  • What is meant by ‘health’ and ‘illness’? Exploring competing concepts and definitions.
  • Key social determinants of health, including class/structure, wealth, gender, race/ethnicity, age and geography.
  • Determinants of health and inequalities across the globe.
  • The impact of social factors and social change on health and wellbeing across the life-course.
  • Death, dying and bereavement: a social perspective.
  • Demographic, social and technological change: future prospects for health across the world.

Delivery and assessment

This online module is delivered within the virtual classroom via podcasts, written materials and online interactive teaching sessions.

To pass the module, you must pass the summative assessment A1 (essay) with at least 50%.

Module coordinator

Yvonne MacNicol


The module will help you develop an understanding of current public health priorities and areas of work which will be directly applicable to the working environment, either within policy, practice or research settings.

The majority of our students are already working in health or social care prior to commencement and remain employed throughout the duration of their studies.

Our students develop a wide range of transferable skills during their study that make them attractive to other employers e.g.

  • team working;
  • IT skills;
  • literature searching;
  • critical appraisal;
  • presentation skills;
  • writing and data analysis.

What next?

Contact us

If you have any questions about entry requirements for our continuing professional development and short courses, contact our Admissions team.

For all other questions, please use our enquiry form.