Fundamentals of Global Health

Fundamentals of Global Health addresses global health governance as well as epidemiological transition and the social determinants of health. The course covers questions and topics such as current issues in global health, how health-related development strategies can address these major international health issues, and how we can measure health and the burden of disease.

During this course, you will learn about migration, health equity, sustainability, and about the methods and ethics of global health research. Through the use of case studies from around the world, you will be able to explore how global health issues can be investigated and how research findings can subsequently be translated into policy and practice.

If you are a postgraduate student or a medical doctor, this course will enable you to deepen your understanding of global health issues and to expand your global health knowledge. Recent graduates with an interest in global health, specifically in the fields of medicine, biomedical sciences, life sciences, social sciences or developmental studies will equally benefit from studying the topics and issues presented. The course is also aimed at health professionals working in or with low- or middle-income countries, biomedical and social science researchers, health personnel in government and non-government institutions, members of international agencies, and consultants.

You will be supported throughout your course by high-quality international teaching staff with vast research and educational experience in low- and middle-income countries. At the end of the course, you will be able to apply the knowledge you have acquired about global health issues to a local context, or to use it in your own epidemiology research.

Fundamentals of Global Health is one of the online health courses that is part of Julius Global Health and the MSc Epidemiology Postgraduate Online; the online MSc program in Epidemiology offered by Utrecht University, University Medical Center Utrecht, MSc Epidemiology and Elevate Health. 

Learning objectives

By the end of the course, you should be able to:

  • Understand the health challenges of today’s globalizing world
  • Apply what you learn directly to your own research
  • Gain insights into methods used in global health research
  • Find out how population health is affected by global trends

In particular, you should be able to:

  • Describe and define the scope and principles of global health
  • Describe health-related development goals and targets
  • Understand basic health indicators
  • Describe demographic trends and population growth
  • Describe social determinants and inequalities in health
  • Understand the theory of epidemiological transition
  • Describe approaches to health equity
  • Describe the use of mixed methods for global health research
  • Describe legal frameworks for global health/global health governance
  • Understand ethical issues in global health research

Course topics

  • Global health governance

The roles and activities of key actors in global health governance will be introduced and analyzed. You will be acquainted with global health legal frameworks, such as the WHO constitution, the Alma Ata declaration and the Human Right to Health.

  • Health indicators and burden of disease

The objectives and methodologies of burden of disease studies will be analyzed. You will learn about summary measures of population health and their calculation.

  • Mixed-method approaches in global health research

This topic deals with the advantages and disadvantages of qualitative, quantitative and mixed research methods. We will discuss the application of these methods and introduce their designs.

  • Social determinants of health

We will focus on the conditions that shape one’s health, such as where you are born, where you live and the type of work you do. In this learning unit, you will be asked to write an essay about the most important social determinants of health in your country.

  • Health transition          

This consists of three parts: demographic, epidemiologic and nutrition transition. This topic discusses the position of Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) in the health transition and explains the implications of transitions for health policy.

  • Migration and health

You will be familiarized with the reasons for human migration and learn about the effects of migration on health. This topic identifies the health status of ethnic and migrant populations, and provides possible explanations for poor health among ethnic minorities and migrants.

  • Health equity

You will distinguish health equity from inequality and describe methods for measuring health equity. This topic further discusses the advantages and disadvantages of universal health coverage.

  • Development strategies

This topic introduces previous development strategies and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It gives insights into the impact and shortcomings of the MDGs. You will also take a look at the Sustainable Development Goals beyond 2015.

  • Health advocacy

Health advocacy attempts to bring health issues to the top of the political agenda. You will find out how health advocacy relates to awareness raising and behavioral change, and why it is a crucial tool to attain better health for all. This topic further describes how advocacy contributes to accountability in the health system.

  • Sustainability and health

This topic is concerned with the question: How can we ensure health for future generations? Eradication of disease, sustainable drug development and innovation are issues to be explored.

  • Ethics of global health research

Clinical research in a global context is accompanied by a range of ethical issues. This topic discusses the obligations of a researcher before, during and after conducting a trial.

Learning Methods

The whole course will take place online. The following learning methods will be used:

  • Video lectures, audio-visual material and reading material
  • Online discussions and quizzes for reflection
  • Exercises, group work and peer review (of colleagues´ assignments)
  • Individual and group assignments
  • Group presentation

Course Deadlines

Please note that you are required to hand in assignments during some of the learning units in this course:

Week 0
Sunday before start date - introduce yourself

Week 1
Sunday – complete Learning Units 1, 2, 3 and 4

Week 2
Sunday – complete Learning Units 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9

Week 3
Sunday – complete Learning Units 10, 11 and 12
Sunday – submit final presentation


To successfully complete this course, you need to participate actively in the discussion forums and complete the learning unit assignments, including:

  • one collaborative assignment including a peer review
  • one final collaborative PowerPoint and presentation in the form of a short video clip


As this is a university course, it is covered by academic accreditation. Upon successful completion of this course, you will receive a recognized certificate from Utrecht University and the UMC Utrecht.

Entry requirements

To enrol in this course, you need:

  • Preferably a Master’s degree but at least a Bachelor’s degree (or the equivalent in medical education, public health, social sciences or related disciplines)
  • Sufficient proficiency in English reading and writing

Please note
As this is an online course, you do need access to an internet connection in order to be able to follow lectures, complete assignments and communicate with fellow participants.

Course reviews

“I really enjoyed the learning environment, with the wonderful lectures and exciting discussions during group work”.  Yang Haomin

 “The greatest benefit I gained from this course is a global perspective, which is helping me think more comprehensively when dealing with my own research activities and will even be useful for my career in the future.”  Xin Wang

Course staff


Pick a date for this course:
(Enrollment deadline: 7 October 2019 - 23:59 CET)
114 days left.

Quick overview

  • 1 Apr 2019 – 21 Apr 2019
  • 3 weeks
  • 14 hrs/wk
  • Academic Certificate
  • 1.5 EC
  • Online
  • English
  • Weblectures, exercises, group assignments, discussion.
  • Desktop, Laptop, Smartphone, Tablet
  • 385

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