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Course content

Public Health is about preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the efforts of society. Whether you are already a working professional in this area, or new to the subject, this Master of Public Health (MPH) is the ideal programme for those wishing to address today’s problems in public health.

Our MPH programme provides students with an understanding of how different scientific disciplines can be used to investigate and then develop the best professional practice in epidemiology, public health and the social science of health.

After successful completion of year one, you can choose to follow a general Public Health programme or a programme specialising in the important global health area of Noncommunicable Diseases.

This programme is taught by lecturers based at the University of Edinburgh's Usher Institute, which is part of the Edinburgh Medical School. The Usher Institute is an interdisciplinary research and teaching hub which draws together researchers, clinicians and practitioners from public health, primary care and biomedical and social sciences. The Centre for Population Health Sciences, within the Usher Institute, is also a WHO Collaborating Centre for Population Health Research and Training.

This programme is affiliated with the University's Global Health Academy, an interdisciplinary network which aims to improve global health through collaborative, interdisciplinary research, education and resource development:

Online learning

Our online learning platform is fully interactive, award-winning and enables you to communicate with our highly qualified teaching staff from the comfort of your own home or workplace.

Our online students not only have access to the University of Edinburgh’s excellent resources, but also become part of a supportive online community, bringing together students and tutors from around the world.

Programme structure

You can study to Masters, Diploma, or Certificate level. All students follow the same compulsory Year One Certificate-level courses, which provide a solid foundation in the fundamentals of public health, whilst a suite of elective courses and a specialist strand in noncommunicable diseases offer students the opportunity to explore areas of interest in more depth and to tailor the programme to their own learning needs and career goals.

Year One (Certificate)

All students take the following compulsory courses:

  • Epidemiology for Health Professionals (20 credits)
  • Health Systems Analysis (20 credits)
  • Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods (10 credits)
  • Introduction to Health Promotion (10 credits)

Year Two (Diploma)

If you have satisfactorily completed the Certificate level, you can decide whether you want to follow a general Public Health programme or a more specialist programme in Public Health (Noncommunicable Diseases). Regardless of which path you decide to follow, if you would like to do a dissertation, the following courses are compulsory:

  • Research Skills for Public and Global Health (10 credits)
  • Introduction to Systematic Reviews (10 credits)

Year Two: Postgraduate Diploma Public Health

Students planning to do a dissertation in Year Three should choose elective courses totalling exactly 40 credits. At least 20 credits must be chosen from the elective courses list A (see below). Students not planning to do a dissertation should choose elective courses totalling exactly 60 credits. At least 40 credits must be chosen from the elective courses list A (see below).

Year Two: Postgraduate Diploma Public Health (Noncommunicable Diseases)

The following courses are compulsory for all students following the Public Health (Noncommunicable Diseases) programme:

  • Introduction to Global Health (10 credits)
  • Globalisation and Non-Communicable Diseases (10 credits)

Students following the Public Health (Noncommunicable Diseases) programme and not planning to do a dissertation should choose exactly 20 credits from either list A or B of elective courses below.

Year Three (Masters)

Students who have completed the Diploma level and are eligible to progress to Year Three can choose either to take a further 60 credits of elective courses (at least 40 of which must be chosen from the elective courses list A) or to do a dissertation project (if agreed by the programme directors), worth 60 credits. The dissertation option will only be available to students who have met the stipulated academic requirements.

Students who complete the Masters degree successfully will graduate with one of the following degree titles, depending on which strand they have selected:

  • Master Public Health
  • Master Public Health (Noncommunicable Diseases)

Elective courses

List A:

  • Project Management for Effective Global Public Health Programmes (10 credits)
  • Introduction to Global Health (10 credits)
  • Globalisation and Non-Communicable Diseases (10 credits)
  • Public Health Epidemiology (10 credits)
  • Intermediate Epidemiology (10 credits)
  • Introduction to Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology (10 credits)
  • The Global Burden of Mental Illness (10 credits)
  • Palliative and End of Life Care in an International Context (10 credits)
  • The Burden of Diabetes in the Developing World - Epidemiology to Strategic Management (10 credits)
  • Family Medicine in Developing and Emerging Economy Health Care and its Role in Non-Communicable Disease Management (10 credits)
  • HIV and Non Communicable Diseases (10 credits)
  • Cultivating communities of practice: leadership and management within multi-disciplinary teams (20 credits)
  • Investing in Global Health and Development (10 credits)
  • Research Skills for Public and Global Health (10 credits)
  • Introduction to Systematic Reviews (10 credits)
  • Data Analysis (10 credits)
  • Statistical Modelling (10 credits)
  • Societies, Reproduction and Health (10 credits)

List B:

  • Maternal Health (10 credits)
  • Global Health Challenges: An Introduction (20 credits)
  • Child Development and Wellbeing in a Global Context (10 credits)
  • Neglected Tropical Diseases (10 credits)
  • Emerging Infectious Diseases (10 credits)
  • The Communication of Disease Control (10 credits)
  • Water and Sanitation (10 credits)
  • Principles and Practice in Public Engagement with Science (10 credits)
  • Introduction to Clinical Trials (20 credits)
  • An introduction to One Health (20 credits)
  • Physical Activity for Health (20 credits)
  • Introduction to Global eHealth (10 credits)
  • Public Health Informatics (10 credits)
  • mHealth in High and Low Resource Settings (10 credits)

Career opportunities

The programme will prepare you for a career in research or academia, professional public health service, clinical epidemiology, health technology assessment, public-health protection and a wide range of national and international organisations concerned with preventing disease and improving the health of populations.


Visit the Public Health (Online Distance Learning) - MPH, PgCert, PgDip page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

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