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New MA in Philosophy, Politics and the Economics of Health

11 November 2009

This academic year has seen the launch of UCL’s MA in the Philosophy, Politics and Economics of Health – the only masters programme in the world of its type, as far as its teachers are aware.

According to Professor Jo Wolff (UCL Philosophy), the aim of the programme is to help students develop the range of skills needed to be able to contribute to debates concerning the distribution of health resources.

Mother with her children, Dakar, Bangladesh. Mustafiz Mamun, Majority World

He said: “Hardly a week goes by without a new national story about the licensing of a new drug, the performance of a hospital, or health reform in the US or Africa. Yet few have the necessary understanding of the ethical, economic and political questions to allow them to comment with authority on such debates, and the programme aims to meet this need.

“Students come from a wide range of backgrounds, and the programme has the flexibility to allow each student to choose options that will further their own particular interests. All students take several compulsory modules to provide them with the core skills they need, but also can choose from a wide range of options, taken from UCL Philosophy, the School of Public Policy, the Division of Medicine, the UCL Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, the MSc in Global Health and Development and elsewhere.”

Shervin Poladi, a student on the the course, described his motivation for applying: “My undergraduate degree was in Neuroscience and I decided to study the masters in PPE of Health at UCL as I thought it would give me the unique opportunity to examine issues concerning health from a variety of perspectives. Indeed, in one of my course choices Philosophy and Ethics of Translational Clinical Science, I have been able to complement my current scientific knowledge with an understanding of the ethical dilemmas and political pressures that can occur throughout clinical trials.

“Members of staff are truly enthusiastic about their subjects and it is reflected in the lectures, and as the course attracts students from a great diversity of backgrounds the seminars are always engaging. In another of my course selections, General Philosophy, it gives one the chance to delve into famous philosophical questions and to appreciate some of the fundamentals of philosophy. So far, I am thoroughly enjoying the experience.”

The course is also available to inter-calating medical students, such as Tulasi Chadalava, who said: “Being a student on the MA has provided me with the opportunity to take a step back from clinical medicine, and I have found that learning with others from different backgrounds has enabled me to move away from a medical mind set and appreciate the wider world that surrounds health.”

Among the part-time students this year is Dr Dan Bernstein, works as a GP. He remarked: “The course is thankfully beginning to illuminate some of the thinking behind the health policy which shapes my work. It's also great to have some pure intellectual stimulation, thinking about academic and practical implications of measuring health, and of advancing health research.”

For further details, follow the link at the top of this item.

Image: Mother with her children, Dakar, Bangladesh. Mustafiz Mamun, Majority World