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    School of Social and Political Science Logo
  • Study Type

    Distance learning & Part time available

  • Subject Areas

    Politics & Government

  • Start Date

    September

  • Course Duration

    MSc: 3 years part-time

  • Course Type

    MSc

  • Course Fees

    Tuition fees vary between degree programmes. Find the specific fees for your chosen programme on our website.

  • Last Updated

    03 October 2019

Programme description

This programme provides students with the skills they need to play a leading role in the formulation of health policies at the national and transnational levels

The programme situates health, health inequalities and health policy in a global context, examining the extent to which health and its determinants are shaped by social, economic and political processes and the impacts on health policy of multiple factors.

With its multidisciplinary approach and online distance learning delivery,this programme will provide you with a flexible and focused examination of health, health inequalities and health policy in a global context.

Whether you’re from a health or social science background, you’ll develop a critical awareness of the role of the state, the commercial sector, civil society and international organisations in health policy and global governance, and an understanding of the challenges confronting policymakers in addressing health and reducing health inequalities.

Online learning

Courses are delivered through short lecture videos, core texts, podcasts and instructor-moderated discussion forums.

There are weekly readings and students engage with the material through on-line asynchronous discussion boards as well online activities that include writing blogs, producing policy briefs, creating mind maps and academic posters, and writing a group wiki.

Additional question-and-answer sessions also take place through live seminars, which are recorded for students not able to participate at the time.

Programme structure

The programme is available on a part-time basis over three years.

For the MSc, students take one compulsory course, choose from a predefined list of core-elective courses, and select freely from a pool of elective courses. All students are required to undertake the final year dissertation course.

You can exit the programme at any stage with the qualification that you have earned, which is determined by the number of credits successfully achieved at the required level.

Students completing 60 credits (including among them the compulsory Public Health and Health Policy course) will be eligible for a Postgraduate Certificate in Global Health Policy. Students completing 120 credits (including among them the compulsory Public Health and Health Policy course and the stated core electives) will be eligible for a Postgraduate Diploma in Global Health Policy.

An MSc will be awarded to students fulfilling the requirements for the Postgraduate Diploma and completing the compulsory dissertation course. Graduates receive identical degree certificates to that of on-campus students. Degree certificates do not state that the programme is delivered online.

All courses are assessed using coursework assignments, which can be submitted via the online portal, without paper copies. Types of assessment vary between courses but many involve an essay component, wherein students choose from a list of possible questions pertaining to the topics covered on the course. Other assessments include policy briefs, commentaries, portfolios, research plans and critical evaluations. In each case, a range of support is offered, including dedicated sessions focused on essay writing, referencing, building an argument and other academic skills, as well as annotated example assessments and one-on-one sessions with course tutors. Deadlines and requirements are communicated well in advance and students receive detailed feedback on their work.

The programme’s flexible structure allows students to balance their studies with their other commitments. For example, students can either condense courses into two semesters, or spread a lighter workload across three semesters.

Compulsory courses

  • Public Health and Health Policy (Year 1)
  • MSc Dissertation (Year 3)

Core Elective courses

  • Global Health Governance
  • Health Inequalities and Social Determinants of Health
  • Health Systems Analysis
  • Researching Health Policy: Qualitative Approaches
  • Researching Health Policy: Quantitative Approaches

Elective courses

  • Analysing Development
  • Epidemiology for Public Health
  • Epidemiology of Chronic Disease
  • Fundamentals of Health Economics
  • Global Development Challenges
  • Global Health Challenges
  • Globalisation and Non-Communicable Diseases
  • Introduction to Health Promotion
  • Leadership, Management and Promoting Public Health Change
  • Maternal Health
  • NCDs in a Global Context
  • Politics and Theories of International Development
  • Systematic Reviews

Please note that available elective courses change year-on-year and may be different, in your year of study, to those shown above.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this programme you will be able to understand, critically appraise and apply key concepts and theories within public health and policy studies with specific reference to social and economic determinants of population health status.

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

Our students come from a diverse range of professional, personal, disciplinary and geographical backgrounds. Many use our MSc as an investment to develop their careers or to move into a more policy-focused role, though the programme also has an academic orientation and is therefore good preparation for further research at the PhD level.

The programme aims to equip students for senior roles in national, regional or global health organisations, research institutions, non-governmental organisations and private sector consultancies.

On graduating, you will have the skills you need to help these organisations respond to a range of key global issues, from the emergence of new pandemics and antibiotic resistance, to the role of private actors in strengthening healthcare systems, to the challenge of regulating multinational corporations as part of efforts to combat non-communicable diseases.


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

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