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Social Determinants of Health




Admissions requirements



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.

  • 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.


Once available, timetables will be published in the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

Guest Lecturers
Group Presentations
Videos and Podcasts
Case Studies


Class Participation: 10% (weeks 1-7)
Facilitating Classroom Discussion: 19% (weeks 2-6)
Reflection: 11% (Week 8)
Group Community Presentation with Windshield Survey: 25% (Week 7)
Group Final Report including Fishbone Diagram: 35% (week 8)

Please note:

  • In accordance with article 4.8 of the Course and Examination Regulations (OER), within 30 days after the publication of grades, the instructor will provide students the opportunity to inspect their exams/coursework.

  • There is a no re-sit policy at Leiden University College.


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

The literature required for each session will be detailed in the syllabus. Journal articles can be accessed via the Leiden University Library. Other readings will be provided through Blackboard and/or DropBox.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact



This class will involve working with the Wijkcentrum Bezuidenhout (Jan van Riebeekplein 90).