POLS307-20S1 (C) Semester One 2020

Policy Issues in Science, Technology and Global Health

30 points

Start Date: Monday, 17 February 2020
End Date: Sunday, 21 June 2020
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Friday, 28 February 2020
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 29 May 2020


This course analyses major political issues and policy challenges in the areas of global health, bio-medicine and the life sciences industry. Specific issues will include the politics of infectious diseases, food security, human ‘enhancement,’ and the implications of disruptive technologies for medicine, human reproduction, and life extension . Cases will be drawn from North America, Australasia and Africa.

This course focuses on key issues emerging at the intersection of biotechnology/medicine, public policy and markets.  It begins with an historical overview of the 20th century progressive and eugenic movements and then analyzes contemporary health policy issues and politics from multiple perspectives. Major issues addressed in the course include drug markets and regulation, cognitive and human enhancement, infectious disease epidemics, agricultural technology, indigenous perspectives on biotechnology, and possible (technological) futures for death and extinction in a post-genomic era. Basic life science and health concepts will be introduced when necessary, but a scientific background is not required to take this course since our focus is on society, policy and politics.  Students also gain experience with major concepts in policy analysis and approaches to public policy foresight and futures studies.

Major questions that we will consider include:

1) When and why did health become a political issue subject to Government intervention?  
2) What are the ethical and public policy consequences of politicizing the human body?
3) How do categories and identities such as “autistic” or “schizophrenic” emerge and become standardized ways of classifying people?
4) Should the State regulate reproductive or enhancement decisions?
5) Should there be any limits to the Government’s coercive power during a health
6) How is health distributed around the world as a consequence of history, class, ethnicity and other variables?
7) Is the category “human” due for an upgrade?


Any 30 points at 200 level from HLTH or
POLS, or
any 60 points at 200 level from the Schedule V of the BA, or
the Schedule V of the BCom.

Timetable 2020

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 12:00 - 14:00 - (24/3, 21/4-26/5)
Ernest Rutherford 465 (18/2-17/3)
17 Feb - 29 Mar
20 Apr - 31 May
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Friday 09:00 - 11:00 - (24/4-29/5)
Ernest Rutherford 465 (21/2-20/3)
17 Feb - 22 Mar
20 Apr - 31 May

Examination and Formal Tests

Test A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01-P1 Wednesday 07:00 - 00:00 Online Delivery
25 May - 31 May
01-P2 Thursday 07:00 - 00:00 Online Delivery
25 May - 31 May
01-P3 Friday 07:00 - 00:00 Online Delivery
25 May - 31 May

Course Coordinator

Amy Fletcher


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Final Exam 30%
Policy Exercise 10%
Mid-Term test 24 Mar 2020 25%
Topic selection 03 Apr 2020 5% 150-200 words
Policy problem statement 29 May 2020 30% 2,200 words

Textbooks / Resources

Required Texts

Andy Hines and Peter Bishop; Thinking about the Future: Guidelines for Strategic Foresight; Hinesight, 2015.

Jamie A. Davies; Synthetic Biology – A Very Short Introduction; Oxford University Press, 2018.

Levine, Philippa; Eugenics : a very short introduction; Oxford University Press, 2017.

Most course readings available on Learn, via the Library or the hyperlinks provided in the syllabus

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,553.00

International fee $6,750.00

* Fees include New Zealand GST and do not include any programme level discount or additional course related expenses.

For further information see Language, Social and Political Sciences.

All POLS307 Occurrences

  • POLS307-20S1 (C) Semester One 2020