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Social Determinants of Health


Admission requirements

Required course(s):



What makes people healthy or unhealthy? Neither individual choices nor access to medical care are 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, and place of birth) at differential risk of poor health and premature mortality. Theoretical perspectives and empirical research on social, behavioral and economic determinants of health will be discussed. In addition, the role culture plays in health education/behavior and program planning & evaluation will be addressed to understand the relationship between health risk (vulnerability) and sociocultural structures and the meaning of cultural sensitivity. The course will involve active engagement with one community in The Hague as we explore causes of and pathways to health and disease. 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.

  • 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.

  • Know the current state of evidenceand gaps in knowledge on associations between social determinants and health
    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 2023-2024 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

Guest Lectures
Group Presentations
Videos and Podcasts
Case Studies

Assessment Method

  • Weekly Reflection Portfolio, Weeks 1 to 7, 20%

  • Accession Cards, Week 4 (2nd March), 35%

  • Group Podcast Script, Week 8 (28th March), 35%

  • Presentation, Week 7, 10%

Reading list

Weekly readings as indicated in the syllabus.


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,