Social Science for Health


This course is an introduction to health issues from various disciplines within the Faculty of Arts, including sociology, geography, anthropology, history, political studies and psychology. What all the disciplines have in common is an appreciation that health issues can only be understood within their broader social context. Students will gain a greater understanding of the complexity of "health" and the variety of ways of researching and analysing it. Students will be familiar with key disciplinary concepts and have an appreciation of multi- and inter-disciplinarity while developing skills in researching, discussing and thinking critically about past and present health concerns.

The course focuses on current health trends and systems with special focus on health inequities in New Zealand. By emphasising collaboration between the social sciences to understand health "problems", the course allows students to engage with and synthesise diverse theories related to the prevention of illness and inequality, as well as the improvement of life chances. Solutions to current health challenges that are connected to real-world conditions are theorised through consideration of a variety of health-related case studies.

Coursework and readings highlight a broad range of sociocultural and behavioural factors that shape health and social issues. In coursework, students will explore health as a social construct; the social determinants of health; the structural and behavioural factors that influence health and wellness; and the informal and formal components of the health-care system.


Coursework + exam

Availability 2022

Not taught in 2022




Segall, A. and Fries, C. J. (2017). Pursuing Health and Wellness: Healthy Societies, Healthy People (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press, Don Mills, Ontario.

Recommended Reading

Rashbrooke, M. (2014). The Inequality Debate: A New Zealand Introduction. Bridget Williams Books, Wellington.


Coursework + exam


SOCSCIPH 200: 15 points


30 points at Stage I in Health Social Sciences or Social Science for Public Health, or 60 points passed