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Social and Behavioural Theory and Health

Course Number
5100 (Social and Behavioural Health Science)
Course Instructor(s)
Daniel Grace

Course Description

This course is an introduction to social and behavioural theory as it applies to the understanding of health and illness. As such, it is a survey course meant to acquaint you with many of the major areas of inquiry, questions, debates and arguments – and the work of key authors – in the sub-field of the sociology, psychology, and social science of health. Emphasis will be on a critical analysis of competing discourses on health, including those based on health behaviour change, interpretive perspectives, critical political economy, Foucauldian perspectives, indigenous perspectives, critical realism, and more. The focus of discussion will be theoretical interpretations of what it means to be, and what causes us to be, healthy or ill in Western industrialized society.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course, you will:

  1. have a basic and critical understanding of major social and behavioural theories as they apply to health, illness, and health behaviour;
  2. be familiar with a range concepts and key debates in the theorization of health;
  3. be able to use sociological and behavioural theory to open up, question and explore key health issues;
  4. have developed a capacity to critically compare and contrast different theoretical perspectives as they apply to a substantive public health issue; and
  5. express yourself better in oral and written work.

Methods of Assessment

Short Paper on Unit 1 20%
In-Class Co-Facilitation 20%
Short Paper on Unit 2 25%
Final Paper 35%

General Requirements

  • Prior social science coursework is helpful.