Postgraduate course

Health systems

  • ECTS credits6
  • Teaching semesterAutumn
  • Course codeINTH316
  • Number of semesters1
  • Language


  • Resources

Level of Study



Full time, 4 weeks

Teaching semester


Place of Instruction

Centre for International Health

Objectives and Content

The objective of the course is to equip the students with concepts and perspectives relevant for the analysis and strengthening of health systems.

This course aims for an understanding of health systems as complex interdependent systems that are anchored in specific political, socio-economic, cultural and epidemiological contexts that condition their functioning. Health systems are discussed from a governance perspective, an economic perspective, a social and cultural perspective and a health behavior perspective.

Health systems are seen as shaped by both structural and social elements. While the structural elements include the particular organizational, policy, legal and financing frameworks, the social elements encompass the institutions, the norms, traditions, values, roles and procedures embedded within the system. In this perspective health systems are not merely seen as mechanical structures to deliver technical interventions, but rather as core social institutions.

The course has four content areas that are taught one week each:

  • Health systems policy and governance
  • Health economics
  • Culture, health and society
  • Health behaviour

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the student should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student

  • Knows the main historical developments in international health;
  • Understands the role of health systems management and leadership in attaining the goals of the health system
  • Knows how health policy impacts health systems, the health workforce, health care delivery and the health of the people
  • Knows how health care spending differs across the world
  • Can explain advantages and disadvantages of different ways of financing health care
  • Understands basic health economic evaluation
  • Understands the health system as a social institution
  • Understands the cultural context of health and disease and how it affects health seeking and care provision
  • Can discuss how the social and political determinants of health produces inequity in access to quality health care
  • Knows theoretical frameworks to analyse and change health behaviour
  • Understands WHO's health systems framework and its limitations


The student

  • Can apply knowledge on health system governance in planning responsive and equitable health care.
  • Can apply health economic evaluation to prioritize between health interventions.
  • Can apply knowledge on social and cultural dimensions of health care provision, access and health seeking in health care programming.
  • Can apply theory to plan health behavior change interventions in a local community
  • Can apply the WHO health systems framework in the analysis of health systems challenges

General competence

The student

  • Can integrate knowledge on the health system from the different areas taught in the course and apply this knowledge in solving challenges in concrete health systems contexts.

Required Previous Knowledge

Proficiency in English at a level corresponding to TOEFL 550 (paper-based) or 213 (computer-based) or IELTS band 6.0 is expected.

Access to the Course

Students enrolled in the master programme in Global Health, students enrolled in similar programmes at UiB or other partner universities.

Teaching Methods and Extent of Organized Teaching

Teaching methods:

A combination of lectures, seminars, discussions, group work on weekly assignments.

Extent of organised teaching:

Total working hours 162:

56 contact hours

24 hours group work

82 hours individual work / readings

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: Classroom sessions every morning (08.30-12.00) and individual study/group work in the afternoon (13.00-14.30)

Wednesday: Individual study and group work

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Attendance at seminars and group work.

Forms of Assessment

Continuous assessment through participation in group work (Pass/Fail)

Home exam: Individual essay (A-F)

The student should participate in and pass at least 80% of the group work. The group work is related to the individual sub-areas of the course and their specific learning outcomes.

The individual exam asks for integration of knowledge from the various sub-areas taught in the course through a case and relates to the learning outcome general competence.

Students who receive the grade "F" are allowed to re-sit according to standard procedures at the University of Bergen.

Grading Scale

ECTS credits A-F (F = fail)

Assessment Semester


Reading List

The reading list will be made available by 1 June on Mitt UiB.

Course Evaluation

Students evaluate the teaching according to the quality assessment requirements of the University of Bergen. The evaluation method is through an online electronic form.

Programme Committee

The program committee for Global Health

Course Coordinator

Professor David Lackland Sam and Professor Karen Marie Moland

Course Administrator

The Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care


The Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care


Contact Information

Centre for International Health

E-mail: studie@igs.uib.no

Tel: 55 58 85 69 / 70

Exam information

  • Type of assessment: Approved assignment

    Withdrawal deadline
    Examination system
    Digital exam
  • Type of assessment: Approved assignment (New exam)

    Withdrawal deadline
    Examination system
    Digital exam