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GLPH 171 Social and Physical Determinants of Health and Disease

GLPH 171 Social and Physical Determinants of Health and Disease

 Summer 2023 (Online), Winter 2024 (Blended)
 Year 1 Core Course
 9-10 hours/week
 3 units
On-Campus Course
Online Course

GLPH 171, Social and Physical Determinants of Health and Disease, will introduce students to the myriad of factors that impact the health of individuals and populations. Students will learn how to discuss health in a holistic manner, incorporating ideas from various disciplinary perspectives. As students progress through this course, they will gain the ability to explain social and physical determinants of health and how these help determine health at individual and population levels. Specific topics will include: health equity, childhood development, the influence of physical environments and climate, education as a determinants of health, the relationship between employment and health, in addition to other topics. Students will showcase their ability to apply course concepts through facilitated discussions, a written report, and group presentations.


NOTE: Students enrolled in the BHSc program MUST take GLPH 171. HLTH 101 does not fulfil the degree requirements

Not open to students in the Faculty of Arts and Science.



Note: Students who wish to pursue a Health Studies Honours degree Plan must take HLTH 101/3.0.

GLPH 171/3.0 may not be taken with or after HLTH 101/3.0 or GPHY 339/3.0

NOTE: Students enrolled in the BHSc program MUST take GLPH 171. HLTH 101 does not fulfil the degree requirements

Not open to students in the Faculty of Arts and Science.

After completing GLPH 171, students will be able to:

  1. Discuss health, wellness, and physical and social determinants of health .
  2. Apply methodological approaches to understand social and physical determinants of health
  3. Explain how intersectionality is linked to social and physical determinants of health, and describe the impact on health outcomes
  4. Explain the role of health initiatives in reducing health inequities
  1. Communicator
  2. Advocate
  3. Leader
  4. Scholar
  5. Professional
  6. Collaborator

All assessments will be graded using marking rubrics.

Assessment 1 – Group Discussion and Presentation - 20% (2 % peer feedback, 9% presentation, 9% discussion summaries)

To foster discussions, students will be placed in groups at the beginning of the term. In these groups, students will work through two components of this assessment:

In Weeks 1-4, each group will work towards developing a short presentation that uses the learning material and highlights critical themes relevant to the field of social and physical determinants of health and disease. This experience will help students consolidate their learning and develop their presentation skills in a low stakes manner. An opportunity for formative feedback (no grades) will occur in Week 3, before groups present their finalized presentations for grades in Week 4.

In Weeks 5-9, students will focus on the second component of this assessment. During this time, students will be provided with articles or media clippings for analysis. Discussion prompts will be developed by the instructor and care will be taken to ensure sensitive topics are discussed appropriately. As students work through these prompts, they will be challenged to make connections and extensions between their own understanding, course concepts, and current issues. There will be an opportunity for overall sharing of ideas/concepts during each in class session. At the end of each session, groups will be required to submit a summary of critical discussion themes.

Assessment 2 – Exploring Health and Health Equity Report - 20%

Preliminary Submission (3%): Each student will select a specific public health issue of their choice (but approved by the teaching team). In a 300-word summary, they will provide an overview of their chosen issue, with an emphasis on the health equity/inequity aspects. The students will provide one example of how the regional area (Kingston, or their own region) is addressing the issue, if at all.

Report (17%): Students will write a 1000-word paper on this approved public health issue. The paper will begin with a summary of the chosen health issue, with specific emphasis on how this health issue is impacting the health of different sub-populations. Students will then explore how the region is addressing the selected public health issue and how successful the efforts have been.

Assessment 3 – Health Research Poster Presentation - 30% (5% peer feedback, 25% poster presentation)

Working in small groups, students will select a social or physical determinant of health from those reviewed in class and relate it to a specific health outcome of their choice. Students will find and summarize literature which explains and supports the identified link. Then students will identify existing interventions aimed at improving the health outcome paying specific attention to those that relate to the chosen determinant of health. The information will be presented in a formal poster format and summarized in a short presentation.

Assessment 4 – Final Exam - 30%

Students will draw upon their knowledge and understanding of course concepts, to answer a series of multiple choice and short answer questions.

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

GLPH 171 course notes via modules posted online.