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About the Department of Global Health & Social Medicine

Why Global Health & Social Medicine? Because health and illness are more than medical matters

Illness is a human experience, shaped by social, political and economic conditions, by cultural beliefs and values, and by systems of language and meaning.

At the same time, from research to policy and practice, inequalities in medicine and health are increasingly global matters, with profound effects on individual human lives and on social and political relations worldwide.

Global Health & Social Medicine (formerly known as the Department of Social Science, Health & Medicine) at King’s is a unique interdisciplinary department founded in 2012. GHSM is already ranked within the top 10 of sociology departments in the UK.

Its mission is to address the changing landscape of health and medicine from a social science perspective. We explore the complex social determinants of health, illness and ageing, and the ways in which advances in biomedicine and biotechnology are changing expectations about life and health and the nature of medical practice. 

What we offer

The Department of Global Health & Social Medicine's research outputs are rated number 2 in the UK and100 per cent of the impact of its research is judged to be world-leading or internationally excellent.

Bringing together social scientists, biomedical researchers and clinicians, we offer a portfolio of research-led teaching at postgraduate and doctoral levels and a flagship undergraduate programme.

We undertake the highest quality research on social science, which is both transdisciplinary and transnational; inspiring creative interactions between individuals and groups across King’s College London and beyond.

Grounded in a knowledge of history, law and philosophy, our internationally recognised expertise, consultancy work, and our contributions to policy development are utilised by myriad organisations, from community groups to transnational organisations.

We equip students with the skills required for a wide range of careers across disciplines: in the health services; in government and NGOs (from public health to environmental protection and urban planning); and in the commercial medical and health sectors.

Our resources

Based in the heart of London, with unique access to national and international centres of influence, King’s College London has the largest concentration of health and medical resources in Europe.

Hosting visiting experts from across the world, we have extensive global reach, with a particular focus on India, China and Brazil.

Global Health & Social Medicine is home to the Institute of Gerontology, one of the foremost gerontological research and teaching centres worldwide. It is a centre of expertise in multi-disciplinary research into ageing, working with colleagues across King’s and in other institutions.

Our research is organised into the following themes: Ageing & Society, BIOS+, Culture, Medicine & Power (CMP).

The outside of Bush House, London

Our values

We are committed to embedding good equality and diversity practice into all of our activities so that the Department becomes a richer and more diverse place to work and study.

Our Department's Equality & Diversity Committee (EDC) acts as a forum for discussing equality and diversity policies, practices and priorities, at all levels, and makes recommendations as appropriate.

The EDC advises the Head of Department on strategic policy developments relating to equality and diversity, their integration into the Department’s overall strategic plans and on their implementation.

We are very pleased to announce that our Department has been awarded a Gender Equality Charter Mark (GEM) Bronze Award. The GEM is the extension of Athena SWAN to arts, humanities and social sciences and contributes to promoting gender equality in the academic environment.

So far we have improved our staff induction programme, ensured departmental-wide participation in unconscious bias training and enabled more staff to get involved in leadership and development programmes.

The GEM award required us to focus on staff, but with the creation of the EDC we intend to expand our remit to include our entire student body.

Besides implementing the Gender Equality Action Plan, the EDC is also a forum for discussing and improving our Department’s practices and policies in connection with age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex and sexual orientation. Any staff or student can speak confidentially to an EDC member.

The implementation of equality and diversity policies not only represents the full commitment of the department to create a more just and equal environment, but also the willingness to achieve and ensure excellence in all aspects of teaching and research.

King's has a dedicated Equalities Unit that covers both staff and student issues.

They advise on best practice in equalities, provide support and guidance on cases of bullying, harassment and discrimination, maintain the university's staff networks and deliver equality and diversity training for staff and students.

The university also has a dedicated Disability Advisory Service that provides information and support to staff and students with disabilities.


"Participating in discussions at the SAT committee meetings has made me reflect on the gender dimensions of my own behaviour, for example how I tend to undervalue my own contributions to the department. This has empowered me to try to make changes in the way I value and represent my work and I am already seeing practical benefits."

Staff member, Department of Global Health & Social Medicine

"I have a flexible contract which allows me to combine my work with caring for my young children. Working from home benefits me as I can do the school run on those days, but also benefits my Department as when I work from home I have dedicated, uninterrupted time to work on projects."

Staff member, Department of Global Health & Social Medicine


Our space

The department is located in the heart of London, in the iconic and recently refurbished Bush House buildings which includes state-of-the-art learning spaces and conference facilities.

GHSM has a dedicated research laboratory with co-located research students, postdoctoral research associates, and visiting research fellows and professors.

Research space includes a meeting area for roundtables and reading groups; research students have access to common areas shared with others in which helps build interdisciplinary links in areas of shared interest.

Two students on the staircase at Bush House

Our ethos

Our faculty and researchers are committed to our vibrant Department-wide research culture.

This is facilitated by the co-location of our researchers in an open plan ‘research lab’, and events involving participation of all faculty, researchers, affiliates and visitors: monthly Departmental Internal Research Seminars, weekly Research Roundtables, Reading Groups and Journal Clubs.

Roundtables provide all researchers, particularly Early Career researchers with the opportunity to present work – at early stage or prior to publication - with senior colleagues to provide peer input, ensure quality, and identify avenues for dissemination.

Department seminars provide important opportunities for engagement with national and international research communities.

Our active international visitor programme provides a continuous exchange of ideas and facilitates the development of novel and transdisciplinary conceptual and methodological approaches to research amongst all members of the Department, in collaboration with leading researchers worldwide.

Some examples of our international work: Professor Nikolas Rose and Dr Dominique Behague collaborated on the sociology of mental health with researchers in Brazil, notably the Institute of Social Medicine in Rio, and with colleagues in the Brazil Institute; on reproductive technologies.

Professor Bronwyn Parry worked closely with researchers in India, liaising with colleagues in the India Institute.

On security, Professor Barbara Prainsack worked with researchers at the Vienna Institute for Legal and Criminal Sociology;

Dr Ilina Singh through her VOICES project with researchers in the US, notably at Penn, Florida, and the Nationwide Children’s Hospital at U. Ohio;

Dr Hanna Kienzler with the Centre for Victims of Torture in Nepal, and the Kosovo Health Foundation;

Dr Orkideh Behrouzan and Sanei (PGR) collaborated with researchers on biomedicine in Iran.

The Department collaborates on synthetic biology as part of a large EPSRC funded consortium involving Imperial, Cambridge, Newcastle and Edinburgh, working with industry partners in the translation and commercialisation - our focus is intellectual property, translation and responsible research innovation.

Additionally, we collaborate on mental health with the Institute for Mental Health at Nottingham University.

Locally, we have rapidly built collaborations across King’s including on mental health, risk, resilience and security, as well as with King’s Integrated Cancer Centre on cancer politics.

We also collaborate with King’s Regional Institutes, especially in our key regions of China (e.g. with Peking University Health Science Center on changes in Chinese mental health law and practice; India (e.g. in an action research project on setting up a 999 service in Chennai) and Brazil (e.g in the global mental health movement project).


Study with us

Undergraduate study

Undergraduate study

Truly interdisciplinary courses; bridging the divide between biomedical & social sciences and…

Master's courses

Postgraduate study

We are proud to present an exciting suite of internationally-focused, interdisciplinary master's…

PhD study

PhD study

We welcome applications to join our lively and mutually-supportive community of doctoral students.

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In line with the university’s wider Equality and Diversity statement, the Department is committed to the provision of equality of opportunity and the recognition and promotion of diversity for all of our students, staff and visitors. We aim to nurture a collegial, mutually supportive and committed culture among staff, students and visitors. We are committed to providing and promoting an environment in which all people can learn, work and interact freely without fear of discrimination, prejudice or harassment. We are committed to creating and sustaining a diverse work and learning environment. All students and staff are treated equitably and are not accorded less favourable treatment because of age, marital/civil partnership status, sex, disability, race, colour, ethnic or national origin, sexual orientation, family circumstances, religious or political beliefs and transgender status. The Department is committed to enhancing the work-life balance of all staff in relation to caring responsibilities and other issues affecting well-being.