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Equity and health, 3.5 Credits

Swedish name: Jämlikhet och hälsa

This syllabus is valid: 2016-09-05 and until further notice

Course code: 3FH063

Credit points: 3.5

Education level: Second cycle

Main Field of Study and progress level: Public Health: Second cycle, has only first-cycle course/s as entry requirements

Grading scale: VG Pass with distinction, G Pass, U Fail

Established by: Programme council for the International Master Programme in Public Health (PRPH), 2016-05-18

Revised by: Programme council for the International Master Programme in Public Health (PRPH), 2016-05-18


Inequities in health have got more and more attention, both in the national and global agendas. However, there are different opinions both regarding the definition of equity, and regarding which polices that are appropriate and justified to increase equity.  Defenders’ of different stand-points usually try to find support in moral philosophy, i.e. theories which try to investigate how things “ought” to be arranged. This course introduces the theories which so far have been most influential in health care and public health – utilitarianism, Rawl’s theory of justice, communitarianism and feminism. The course investigates how these theories in moral philosophy have influenced scientific disciplines of importance for research about health care and public health. Further is the relationship between moral philosophy and political decisions investigated. What kind of ethical arguments are used when health care is making priorities?

Expected learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

After this course, students are expected to:
  • Describe how the theories under study treat equality in different respects.
  • Deep understanding contemporary research about equity in health

Skills and abilities

After this course, students are expected to be able to:
  • Analyze the relationship between contemporary normative statements in public health and health care, and the moral theories included in the course.

Judgement and approach

After this course, students are expected to:
  • Understand and explain own positions taken in relation to the moral theories under study.
  • Be aware of ethical aspects on inequity in health problems, as well as suggested solutions.

Required Knowledge

For non-programme students applying as single-course students, the requirements are 120 ECTS, of which a minimum of 30 ECTS are within one of the following: health sciences, environmental health or social sciences.

English proficiency equivalent to English B/6 from Swedish Upper secondary education.
Basic entrance requirements for higher studies in Swedish language proficiency is also required if the course is taught in Swedish.

Form of instruction

Teaching is concentrated to two weeks during the course period. Teaching methods are mixed; lectures, seminars, group-discussions and home assignments. Seminars, group-discussions and home assignments are mandatory. The course is given in English.

Examination modes

The course is examined individually through active participation in mandatory individual or group-exercises.

Mandatory seminaries and group-exercises can be awarded fail (U) or pass (G), while individual exercises can be awarded fail (U), pass (G) or pass with distinction (VG).

The whole course is graded Fail (U), Pass (G) or Pass with Distinction (VG). In order to be awarded Pass for the entire course, it is required that all examination parts must be passed.

It is only allowed to complete a fail. To complete only for being awarded a higher grade is not allowed.

If there are special reasons, the examiner has the right to decide whether another form of examination can be used. A student who has failed two tests for a course, is entitled to have another examiner appointed, unless there are specific reasons against it. A written request is submitted to the director of studies.

Other regulations

Students have the right to examine whether previous education or equivalent knowledge and skills acquired can be credited for the corresponding course at Umeå University. Application is submitted to Studentcentrum/Examina. Details on crediting can be found at Umeå University’s student web,, and the Higher Education Ordinance (Chapter 6). A refusal of accreditation may be appealed against (Higher Education Ordinance Chapter 12) to the University Appeals Board. This applies to the whole or part of the application for accreditation is refused.


The literature list is not available through the web. Please contact the faculty.