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Course content

This programme explores the issues that shape population health and build the knowledge and skills necessary to address them.

Over the course of the last decade global health has received dramatically increased attention, both as an emergent academic discipline and in terms of heightened policy salience.

Global health concerns have become a central component of foreign and security policy and of development and human rights agendas, and have reshaped debates regarding the social impacts of global economic and environmental change.

Finding answers to the key questions confronting global health policy and practice is vital. Through this programme you will explore the issues that shape population health and build the knowledge and skills necessary to address them.

From the impact of globalisation and the recent development of influential global health partnerships to the complex relationships between health objectives and the trade policies of leading states, you’ll learn to understand, critically appraise and apply key concepts and theories within policy studies, international political economy and public health science.

Situated within the Global Public Health Unit, this programme offers innovative research-led teaching that draws on academic expertise from disciplines including public health, political science, social policy, economics, medicine, epidemiology, geography and anthropology.

Our location within the Graduate School of Social and Political Science gives students access to an academically challenging but friendly and supportive environment and to diverse postgraduate courses offered in one of Europe’s leading centres of social science research.

This programme is affiliated with the University's Global Health Academy.

Programme structure

You will complete one compulsory course and a number of option courses.

Following the taught courses, you will work towards an independently researched dissertation.

We have structured the programme to enable you to undertake a placement during your dissertation.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this programme you will be able to understand, critically appraise and apply key concepts and theories within policy studies, international political economy and public health science with specific reference to social and economic determinants of population health status; public health policy norms; concepts of epidemiology and research methods; and processes and institutions of public policy-making.

You will also develop the skills to:

  • apply social science perspectives to public health questions
  • assess the changing context of public health policy formulation
  • analyse diverse source materials and apply to public health questions
  • articulate your own conception of core challenges confronting public health
  • engage in public health advocacy
  • work across disciplinary boundaries

Career opportunities

This highly regarded qualification will improve your chances of securing rewarding roles. Recent graduates have taken up employment and research positions with NGOs, health agencies, government departments and international organisations.

We have structured the programme to enable you to undertake a placement during your dissertation, ensuring you graduate with valuable experience and contacts.

The transferable skills you gain in areas such as communication and research will give you an edge in the employment market, whatever your eventual career.

A number of our students, particularly from social science backgrounds, use this programme to prepare for applications to medical school or a PhD programme.

Our programmes are also recognised for training purposes by the UK Faculty of Public Health, and a number of practising doctors undertake study with us.


Visit the Global Health Policy (MSc) page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

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