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Social Determinants of Health


Admission requirements



What makes people healthy or unhealthy? Neither individual choices nor access to medical care are the sole determinants of health. Social conditions or rather the social determinants of health (SDH) are conditions, factors and systems that place people from different socio-demographic and socio-economic groups (social class, gender, race/ethnicity, religion, language, and place of birth) at differential risk of poor health and premature mortality. Theoretical perspectives and empirical research on social, behavioral, cultural and economic determinants of health will be discussed. We will follow a thematic approach, focusing each session on different sets of social determinants to recognize factors that affect the health of individuals and communities.

Course Objectives


  • Develop a collaborative stance towards populations with whom one will work in the field of public health.

  • Skills in community mapping and use of field survey tools.

  • Working in a group to develop presentations and reports.

  • Using government data merged with community mapping to understand how social conditions impact health.

  • Understand the key principles behind community-based approaches to public health

  • Writing an academic paper detailing how social factors influence a particular health issue incorporating current public health frameworks and multi-level interactions.


  • Explain potential mechanisms through which social factors can influence individual health across the life-course and shape population patterns of morbidity and mortality.

  • Describe and apply public health frameworks and concepts emphasizing multilevel interactions between biology, behavior, environments and the distribution of life opportunities.

  • Understand how socially constructed concepts of race, ethnicity, immigration, gender and social class influence health and structure population health disparities and inequities.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2020-2021 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

Guest Lectures
Group Presentations
Videos and Podcasts
Case Studies

Assessment Method

Community Project (35%)
Photovoice/Windshield Survey (30%)
Journal Club/Discussion (17%)
Presentation (18%)

Reading list

The literature required for each session will be detailed in the syllabus.

Journal articles can be accessed via the Leiden University Library.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. Jyothi Thrivikraman, (Block 1)
Laura van der Velde, (Block 4)