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GLPH 171 Social and Physical Determinants of Health and Disease

GLPH 171 Social and Physical Determinants of Health and Disease

 Winter 2021
 Year 1 Core Course
 9-10 hours/week
 3 units
Online Course

This course will use an evidence based approach to address the impact of social and environmental exposures and circumstances on health at both an individual and population level. It will focus on how the contexts of peoples’ lives affect their health, methods for describing and measuring these effects, and the role of medical practice in creating and maintaining health. Students will develop an understanding of and methods for critically evaluating scientific literature and becoming community advocates for health.

*Previously BMED 171 Social and Physical Determinants of Health and Disease.


Note: This course is not open to Arts and Science students to take as part of their degree requirements. If you would like to take this course for interest please contact

HLTH 101/3.0; HLTH 102/3.0; GPHY 339/3.0

After completing GLPH 171, students will be able to:

  1. Identify social and physical circumstances that have an impact on health and analyze the nature of that impact.
  2. Describe the nature of socioeconomic status, gender, and early adversity, to critique them as determinants of health.
  3. Analyze how social circumstances and medical systems shape individual health.
  4. Develop how environment, genetics, intergenerational circumstances and medical care connect to an individual’s health.
  5. Critically appraise scholarly research to interpret different types of evidence on determinants of health.
  1. Communicator
  2. Advocate
  3. Leader
  4. Scholar
  5. Professional
  6. Collaborator

All assessments will be graded using marking rubrics.

Assessment 1 – Stop and Reflect Exercises (20%)

Throughout the online modules there will be short questions aimed at testing the learner’s comprehension. These will be multiple choice or short answer, and where applicable, the student will be notified if the questions are graded. The questions will be designed to be engaging and prompt students to think about relevant applications of the module material. The material tested will be only that within the module the student is currently working through.

Assessment 2 – Critical Literature Evaluation (30%)

Students will work in tutorial groups to write a critical appraisal of a relevant public health study. With the assistance of a TA, the students will discuss and analyze the study in the online tutorial platform, summarizing these results in a group written report. A portion of the student’s individual assignment grade will come from a peer evaluation component.

Assessment 3 – Research Poster & PSA Presentation (30%)

Students will choose a research subject from a provided list and individually create a multimedia advertisement and research poster on this subject. The multimedia PSA can be visual or audio in nature, and will be designed to increase public awareness of the chosen subject. The online research poster is meant to be a more in-depth summary of the relevant issues and data on the subject, and will be handed in after the PSA. Both assignments are to be completed individually, and are aimed at testing the student’s application of course knowledge.

Assessment 4 – Final Exam (20%)

The final exam will consist of well-designed short answer questions, aimed at problem solving and assimilating knowledge learned throughout the course, rather than rote memorization.

9–10 hours a week (108–120 hours per term)

Required Text

GLPH 171 course notes via modules posted online.

Optional Text

Social Determinants of Health, 2nd Dennis Raphael (editor), Canadian Scholar’s Press, 2009.