SPOL40470 Comparing Healthcare Systems

Academic Year 2023/2024

This course is designed for students who want to explore various themes in health care systems and policy reforms, from historical, economic, political and sociological perspectives. Taking a comparative approach, with a particular focus on industrial advanced economies, it aims to introduce the students to the workings of the health care systems in different societies, while providing a strong background in the analytical frameworks of comparative social policy.

Are healthcare systems in crisis or at a crossroads? Healthcare systems often share the fundamental collective values and solidarity upon which the welfare state was constructed in the post-World War Two era. The recent global pandemic shook the foundation of many countries’ care systems and has strained them across the world. In times of economic downturn in ageing societies, reforming healthcare systems is considered simply inevitable. Therefore, the balance between equal access to healthcare services and ensuring a high quality of care is under great strain. Throughout our module, we will be asking ourselves the question – how crises will reshape the future of our healthcare systems.

Show/hide contentOpenClose All

Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion of this module, students should be able to:
• Acquire insights into structure of health care systems in industrially advanced economies;
• Develop a systematic understanding of the major economic, political and sociological issues involved in the organisation, production and financing of health care services, both nationally and internationally;
• Foster a critical awareness of key debates in policy reforms, including the role of government and other actors through comparative study of different health care systems; and
• Analyse the roles of professionals, users and researchers in the making, implementation and evaluation of health policy through the use of case studies.

Indicative Module Content:

Themes covered in the course include the historical foundations of different health care systems; similarities and differences in the way health care is financed, provided and regulated; contemporary debates on health care reforms such as economic sustainability, erosion of universal access, quality improvement, patient safety, medical tourism and migration of health care professionals.

Through comparative study of different health care systems, this course seeks to develop a critical awareness of the key debates in policy reforms, e.g. the role of government and other actors such as the private sector, health care professionals and users. Highlighting factors which bring about convergence and divergence across countries, the comparability of different health care systems will also be examined.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The module is provided through lectures, student presentations, group work and discussions. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Essay: Essay (4,000 words) Week 12 n/a Graded No


Project: Oral presentation and participation in regular discussions Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.