POPLHLTH 102 : Social Determinants of Health

Medical and Health Sciences

2024 Semester Two (1245) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

A description and analysis of health within a social context. Discusses different models of health and provides a range of explanations for how social factors influence health. Options for addressing these issues are also explored.

Course Overview

The main aim of this course is to introduce you to the social determinants of health. This course will introduce a framework through which the causes and effects of social inequalities in health can be understood. You will look critically at common assumptions about health, illness, disease and health care.
You will develop an understanding of the relationship between social factors and how they impact on health, and particularly how they lead to inequalities. The course also explores interventions that might reduce social inequalities in health.
You will also learn not to look for a ‘correct’ answer, but rather to consider a range of perspectives and interpretations and weigh one against another.

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Course Contacts

Rob McNeill, Course Director (r.mcneill@auckland.ac.nz)
Monique Palaone-Smith, Professional Teaching Fellow (poplhlth102@auckland.ac.nz)

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: People and Place
Capability 2: Sustainability
Capability 3: Knowledge and Practice
Capability 4: Critical Thinking
Capability 5: Solution Seeking
Capability 6: Communication
Capability 7: Collaboration

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Recognise and explain the relationship between social factors and how they are associated with health outcomes, and particularly how they lead to inequalities. (Capability 1.1, 1.2, 3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 4.2 and 6.2)
  2. Describe possible solutions to reduce health inequalities related to the social determinants of health. (Capability 1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.3, 3.1, 3.2, 4.2, 5.2, 5.3, 6.1 and 6.2)
  3. Communicate a clear and logical argument within a traditional essay style. (Capability 4.1, 4.2, 6.1 and 6.2)
  4. Identify and synthesize a body of literature to answer a specific research question. (Capability 4.2, 6.1, 6.2, 7.1 and 7.2)
  5. Work effectively in a team towards a common goal. (Capability 7.1 and 7.2)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Mid Term Test 20% Individual Test
Essay 20% Individual Coursework
Tutorial Assessment 20% Group & Individual Coursework
Exam 40% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5
Mid Term Test
Tutorial Assessment

Workload Expectations

Following University workload guidelines, a standard 15 point course represents approximately 150 hours of study.

For this course, you can expect 24 hours of lectures and 10 hours of tutorial time. Since the course as a whole represents approximately 150 hours of study, that leaves a total of  116 hours across the entire semester for independent study, e.g. reading, reflection, preparing for assessments/exams, etc. 

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance at lectures is expected.
Attendance is required at tutorials, to be able to complete and receive credit for some assessment components of the course.
Lecture slides will be available on Canvas before each lecture.
Lectures will be available as recordings but will not be live-streamed.
Tutorials will not be available as recordings.
The exam will be online and open-book (non-invigilated).
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Student Feedback

At the end of every semester students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback and respond with summaries and actions.

Your feedback helps teachers to improve the course and its delivery for future students.

Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the department and faculty staff-student consultative committees.

We are continually redeveloping aspects of this course based on previous years' feedback.

One thing we will be focusing on for 2024 will be trying to improve the clarity around expectations for answers in the terms test and essay assessments. We will also be working on improving feedback from the terms test.

Having a single 2 hour lecture is often commented on as a real challenge for students, particularly when it follows two other lectures. This will not be possible to change in 2024 due to timetabling constraints but we will try to make the second hour more engaging so that it is easier to get through.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed for potential plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct, using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website http://disability.auckland.ac.nz

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/academic-information/exams-and-final-results/during-exams/aegrotat-and-compassionate-consideration.html.

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/forms-policies-and-guidelines/student-policies-and-guidelines/student-charter.html.


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.