Short Course

An Introduction to Global Health

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The course is designed to provide an accessible introduction and overview of global and planetary health, with opportunities to learn more detail by using the links and further reading provided. It places health in the context of our relationship to the ecosystem of the planet and society.

The world viewed from space

Course overview

This short course identifies why health has improved in many countries of the world but not in others and provides a framework to help us make a difference. The course identifies the world agenda that will achieve a sustainable planet and good health for all, but notes that this is not inevitable and relies on humans choosing this direction of travel. The course identifies the world agenda that will achieve a sustainable planet and good health for all, but notes that this is not inevitable and relies on humans choosing this direction of travel.

What you need to know

Course start date

January 2024


Distanced Learning

Course length

5-10 hours


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Typical offer

Health Professionals



Course features

  • Taught by Dr John Acres, who coordinates the Wessex Global Health Network. He is a Visiting Fellow in the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing's Centre for Global Health. After clinical work in hospitals for some years he specialised in public health.
  • Taught by Dr Rachel Locke, who is a Senior Lecturer in International Development: Global Health in the School of Sport, Health and Community, Faculty of Health and Wellbeing. Rachel is convenor of the University's Centre for Global Health.

Course details


Distance learning only.

Learning and teaching

The course is delivered entirely online, self-paced and takes between 5 - 10 hours to complete. The duration will be dependent on the amount of further reading in which a learner engages.

The course content includes written material, graphics, videos, narrated presentations, links to further resources and reading materials. There is no formal external assessment. However, learners are encouraged to reflect on the content of the course and the course includes some guided reflection.

This distance-learning course is delivered via Canvas. Due to government regulations, Instructure (Canvas) prohibits the unauthorised use of its products and services in specific countries and regions. We need to make these restrictions clear to individuals considering this course. Please see the guidance as documented by Canvas.

Which countries are restricted from using Canvas?

This course requires access to the following:

Operating Systems
Windows XP SP3 and newer
Mac OSX 10.6 and newer
Linux - chrome OS

1GB of RAM
2GHz processor

Bandwidth Environments
Minimum of 512kbps (basic DSL)

JavaScript must be enabled in your browser.

Chrome 19
Safari 5
Firefox 12


Please note the modules listed are correct at the time of publishing. The University cannot guarantee the availability of all modules listed and modules may be subject to change. The University will notify applicants of any changes made to the core modules listed. For further information please refer to


Module 1

This module is about people and the planet.

It covers the evolution of humans, their spread and development over time. It notes the important changes that took place when they developed settlements and how this and their animal origins have affected their health ever since. The module concludes by asking how their numbers have now increased to nearly 8 billion and asks why.

Module 2

This module is about causes of death and how and why these have been changing.

It explores early theories of disease and tests whether changes in these have lead to the increase in population. Using the example of a country that has become high income it covers how causes of death have changed and how this knowledge can be used when looking at all countries round the world. It notes the very significant changes that have taken place over the last 50 years and provides the opportunity to look more closely at the main diseases in the world together with their epidemiology. It concludes by looking at the main health challenges in the future.

Module 3

This module is about the health gradient, inequalities and social determinants.

The module starts by looking at the relationship between health and wealth and explores why some people are more healthy than others. It looks at the basic ingredients we need in order to survive and explores how the way we structure our society increases or decreases our survival capabilities. This includes access to affordable healthcare and the manpower challenge the world has to achieve this. It concludes by looking at the evidence that shines light on how the relationship between our animal origins and our social hierarchies affect our health.

Module 4

This module provides a practical framework to help decide how to improve health in the most cost effective way.

The module begins by looking at the health problems of a low-income country in Africa. It then follows the patient journey of a woman who lives in a rural village as she seeks help from a health clinic. This is then linked to the determinants of health and expands a medical care model to a population health care model. Using examples, it uses the model to help people identify the most effective interventions that will improve particular health problems. It also addresses barriers to the use of healthcare and looks at need, demand, prevention, effectiveness, efficiency, service improvement.

Module 5

This module looks at what the world doing about global health and the future of the planet. 

The module looks first at the impacts that human activities have had on the health of people in countries of the world and some of the ways these have and are being tackled. It notes that the interconnected big problems of the world today demand a co-ordinated approach, if they are to be managed. It describes the formation of the UN and WHO, together with the significance of health now being seen as a human right. The module concludes by recognising that Sustainable Global Health for All is only achieved by achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, the development of which are traced back to the formation of the UN. The course concludes with examples and guidance for people who want to learn more or to become involved in global health in some way.

Entry requirements

Health Professionals

Run by the Faculty of Health & Wellbeing at the University of Winchester, this course does not require prior knowledge or experience and should be accessible to a wide range of learners.

A good command of the English Language is required, both written and oral.

Book now

The current course dates are available via the 'Book now' button.

For academic/course content enquires please contact Dr John Acres or Dr Rachel Locke

It will be particularly useful for healthcare professionals as it meets the recommendations of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) (see (1) and (2) below) for what healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, dieticians, nutritionists, physiotherapists etc.) should know about global health. The recommendations set out capability areas to do with:

Diversity, Human Rights and Ethics
Environmental, Social and Economic Determinants of Health
Global Epidemiology
Global Health Governance
Health Systems and Health Professionals

(1)A Summary of the AOMRC Recommendations
(2)The Planetary Health Education Framework

Those interested in Planetary Health: As the course also covers the domains of the Planetary Health Education Framework, it will also be of interest to the growing number of people concerned about the future of the planet and the people who live on it.

The course also provides an introduction to the five foundational domains of the Planetary Health Education Framework recommended by the taskforce of the Planetary Health Alliance (3). These are:

Interconnection with Nature
The Anthropocene and Health
Equity and Social Justice
Movement Building and Systems Change
Systems Thinking and Complexity

No International Entry Requirements for this course.

This course is available for health care professionals.

Additional costs

For information about staff and student discounts please contact the short course administrator