Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Inequalities in Health

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course



DESCRIPTION This study-unit provides students with an introduction to theories surrounding inequalities in health. Power relations will be placed at the fore, focusing mainly on ‘class’, ‘gender’ and ‘ethnicity’ and their link with health inequalities.

An understanding of the social determinants of health and well-being is explored by referring to how social and cultural capital together with financial status, shape and determine people’s experiences. Structural factors that influence opportunities, life-style choices and access to services and resources supportive of health and well-being will be explored. Students will be encouraged to think critically on how health disparities emerge where ‘class’, ‘gender’ and ‘ethnicity’ intersect with age, disability and legal status.

Study-unit Aims:

The study-unit aims to impart knowledge and promote better understanding of the social determinants of health, in particular the relationship between social class, gender and ethnicity by:
• examining the impact of social class, financial poverty and material deprivation on health and well-being in relation to such factors as: poor nutrition, sanitation, homelessness and housing exclusion, unemployment, low educational attainment, addictive behaviour and impaired access to social services;
• exploring different social and cultural perspectives of gender and how these intersects with health; with particular reference to sexual health across the lifespan;
• exploring multiple dimensions of racism, particularly structural racism, and how it relates to inequity in health and accessing health services - with a focus on the Maltese context.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

• explain the main sociological perspectives on social class, poverty and social exclusion;
• define the different forms and indicators of social and cultural inequalities in health;
• demonstrate knowledge on the intersectionality between social class, gender, ethnicity and health.

2. Skills
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

• evaluate the effectiveness of health services in relation to specific social contexts;
• analyse the requirements in health services as related to social class, gender and ethnicity;
• appraise the effectiveness of policy actions to address health inequities;
• propose recommendations for promoting health equity.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:


- ANNANDALE, E., 2014. The sociology of health and medicine: a critical introduction. Cambridge: Polity.
- GRAHAM, H., 2009. Understanding health inequalities. UK: McGraw-Hill Education.
- MARMOT, M. and WILKINSON, R., (Ed.) 2007. Social determinants of health. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- NETTLETON, S., 2013. The sociology of health and illness .Oxford: Polity.


- ASHCROFT, B. GRIFFITHS, G. and TIFFEN, H., 2002 The empire writes back : theory and practice in post-colonial literatures. UK: Taylor and Francis.
- KUHLMANN, E. and ANNANDALE, E., eds, 2012. The Palgrave Handbook of Gender. Palgrave.
- UNHCR. 2016 Age, Gender & Diversity Mainstreaming and Participatory Assessments in Malta.
- WILKINSON, R. PICKETT, K. 2010 The Spirit Level: why equality is better for everyone Penguin Books.
- BLAS, E. and KURUP, A. S.(Eds.) 2010 Equity, Social Determinants and Public health Programmes WHO available at:

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Seminar & Independent Study

Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Presentation (25 Minutes) Yes 40%
Assignment Yes 60%

LECTURER/S Claire Lucille Azzopardi Lane
Joanna Depares
Gillian M. Martin
Maria Pisani
Mary Grace Vella

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2019/0, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.