Living Longer: Global Perspectives

Subject POPH90075 (2010)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2010.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2010:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable


Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: One 2-hour lecture per week.
Total Time Commitment: Students should expect a total time commitment outside the stated contact hours of at least three hours for each hour of contact in this subject.
Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements: None


Prof Janet Mccalman


Centre for Health and Society


Academic Programs Office
Melbourne School of Population Health
Tel: +61 3 8344 9339
Fax: +61 3 8344 0824

Subject Overview:

The course will study the history of health transitions from a global perspective, focussing on the factors historians have identified in bringing about the modern rise in life expectancy. The course is structured around the book by James C. Riley, Rising Life Expectancy: a global history (Cambridge University Press, 2001). After providing an overview of the health transition, it will examine in turn: the rise and impact of public health; the role of biomedicine; wealth, income and economic development; famine, malnutrition and diet; households and individuals; literacy and education. Studies will be made in turn of first, second, third and fourth world examples. Particular attention will be paid to controversies among historians and social scientists and the ideological conflicts that pervade debate over the health transition.

  • To provide historical contextual knowledge of the factors in the rise in human life-expectancy and the health transition
  • To promote awareness of change over time
  • To equip students with theoretical perspectives on changing life expectancy
  • To improve students’ understanding of processes of change, the role of human agency, governments and biomedical intervention in life expectancy.

Seminar Reading diary (400 level: 1500 words; 500 level 2000 words). Students will be expected to keep a diary of their reading of both the recommended historical and contemporary literature. Reviewed during semester, final version due at end of semester (30%).

Research essay (400 level: 2500 words, 500 level: 3000 words) on one of the five case studies in the course, due at the end of semester (70%).

Prescribed Texts: James C Riley, Rising Life Expectancy: a global history, (Cambridge University Press, 2001).

A printed set of readings will also be available for purchase.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • To provide training in the use of multifactorial evidence in the analysis of public health issues
  • To provide training in the employment of consilient knowledge systems in social analysis
  • To gain knowledge of change over time and on human agency in change
  • To provide training in research skills and the use of evidence and theory.

Links to further information:

This subject is a Group 1 elective in the Master of Public Health.

Related Course(s): Master of Environment
Master of Environment
Postgraduate Certificate in Environment
Postgraduate Diploma in Environment
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Climate Change
Public Health
Social Health

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