Globally health is changing rapidly and in many countries millions of people are dying from preventable diseases. The World Health Organization calculates that two thirds of an estimated annual 56 million deaths are due to non-communicable diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases.
Obesity is a key determinant of these diseases and yet, at the other extreme, over 7.5 million preschool children die each year from malnutrition. Cardiovascular diseases alone represented 30 per cent of global deaths in 2012. About three quarters of the global NCD deaths occur in low-and middle-income countries, and infectious diseases including AIDS/HIV and other immunisable diseases, still affect many people in developing and developed countries alike.
Supporting people to stay well is the essence of public health. Practitioners advise and develop programmes to make a difference in areas such as nutrition, immunisation, tobacco and alcohol, drug addiction recovery, sexual health, pregnancy and children’s health. They are also concerned with issues such as health inequality, health care service equity, population programmes and disease surveillance.
What does our MSc provide?
We offer a challenging and rewarding masters programme in all aspects of public health with optional pathways specialising in nutrition, intelligence (working with information) and global health. Our modules cover a broad range of subjects taught by expert academic staff with a focus on professional practice. They will equip you for a successful career in the public or private sector, or a role as an academic researcher.
Who should study?
Our programme will suit graduates or experienced health professionals who want to develop their knowledge of public health or learn new skills.
Our MSc Public Health degree will prepare you for a challenging rewarding career to improve the health of individuals and communities. You will develop essential skills in epidemiology, quantitative and qualitative research methods, medical statistics, health improvement and in devising effective public health programmes. This masters degree course offers pathways in intelligence, global health and nutrition to equip you for professional practice in these specialisms.
Public health professionals apply core competences from epidemiology and social sciences to develop, implement and evaluate evidence-based programmes to improve health and wellbeing. They are also concerned with equity, quality, effectiveness, cost effectiveness and accessibility of health care and will become involved in policy and strategy development, particularly where this impacts on community health and wellbeing.
Our comprehensive MSc provides a broad public health learning experience and supports the development of relevant expertise. We offer three pathways in nutrition, intelligence and global health with specialist modules to equip you for a career in these specialisms.
We will provide you with thorough training and support to develop essential skills in epidemiology, and quantitative and qualitative competencies, which you will need to analyse healthcare data and develop your own campaigns.
During the programme you will have the opportunity to debate contemporary issues with leading public health experts. You will also meet international researchers in lifecourse epidemiology, geographical aspects of health, health inequalities, maternal and child health and nutrition.
You will learn with and from other students, sharing your experiences from a range of health systems around the world.
Our programme aims to develop your intellectual and practical skills in the core areas of public health to maximise your opportunities for employment as a practitioner or researcher. It will:
Provide opportunities for you to develop mastery in public health through advancing your analytical skills, communication skills and knowledge.
Prepare you to lead teams and individuals, build healthy alliances, develop capacity and capability and work in partnership to improve health and wellbeing.
Enable you to promote the health of populations by influencing the lifestyles of populations, communities and individuals.
Enable you to prevent ill-health through risk assessment and the promotion and implementation of evidence-based interventions.
Enable you to use or evaluate research using sound methodological principles.
Provide you with relevant tools, skills and understanding of concepts and terms, which will support effective public health practice.
We support the careers of aspiring public health researchers and actively encourage applications for further study at PhD level.
This programme is offered by the Faculty of Medicine and as such you will receive most of your teaching in the Faculty of Medicine located in Southampton General Hospital.
To apply please click on the Apply Now button below. Please note this programme is offered by the Faculty of Medicine, please choose the Faculty of Medicine in the drop down menu on the application form.
Please see the Entry requirements tab above for further information on the application process.
Applications must be received no later than four weeks before the start of the module/programme. In addition, you must have supplied all of the required supporting documentation two weeks prior to starting your module/programme.
The MSc Public Health is accredited by the International Union for Health Promotion and Education and the MSc Public Health pathway in nutrition is accredited by the Association for Nutrition.
To graduate with an MSc Public Health you must achieve 60 European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) through taught modules and 30 ECTS through a dissertation.
Core skills and optional modules
You will study four core modules covering all the essential professional skills you will need in your career, and optional modules to reflect your own interests. Other modules in leadership, human geography, demography, social science and global health may also be taken, timetabling permitting.
Each module has its own defined learning outcomes and assessments and the modules are linked together to form a coherent programme of learning. You will also write a dissertation of 6,500 words which can take the form of a technical report or a paper for an academic journal.
The induction week will provide you with a broad understanding of public health, its disciplines and history. Topical issues will be presented by keynote speakers. The two core modules in Epidemiology and Medical statistics and qualitative methods for public health will enable you to develop the knowledge and skills to evaluate and interpret public health research. Enabling change for health improvement and Development and implementation of policies and strategies will support the advancement of knowledge and skills in a range of areas including leadership, programme planning, working with individuals and communities, and evaluation.
The award at the end of the programme of study will be the degree of Master of Science (MSc) Public Health. The programme also accommodates a ‘step on step off’ structure allowing you to start the MSc programme and complete one of two subsidiary awards; a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health Studies or a Postgraduate Certificate in the Principles of Public Health. All awards are classified as pass, merit or distinction.
The flexible nature of this programme enables you to take modules on a stand-alone basis, should you wish.
The MSc Public Health is a comprehensive programme of study which will give students all the knowledge and skills required for a successful career in this rewarding area of practice.
Our programme has been informed by research surrounding the United Nations Millennium goals in global health and will equip graduates to develop professional and transferable competences in evidence-based public health.
Our MSc Public Health is accredited by the International Union for Health Promotion and Education and our MSc Public Health pathway in nutrition is accredited by the Association for Nutrition.
Optional pathways are offered in nutrition, intelligence and global health. Career opportunities as a Public Health specialist include those within Public/Government, private sectors, charities, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and the food industry.
Our programme draws from specialist expertise in Medicine, Health Geography, Demography and Business and Law at the University of Southampton.
Applicants are expected to have an appropriate second-class honours degree, or equivalent undergraduate degree from an approved university, or relevant professional experience in nutrition, dietetics or other biomedical or health sciences.
English language requirements
Competency in English is essential as the course is taught entirely in the English language. Students who do not have a recent degree from an approved university that has been taught and assessed in English, or who are from a country that is not on the list of those exempt from testing, require a minimum IELTS score of 7.0 overall, with a minimum of 6.0 in listening, reading and speaking, and a minimum of 6.5 in writing. We accept a range of Secure English Language Tests. Those for whom English is not their first language are asked to indicate the level of English they have attained.
As part of the application process, candidates are asked to write a personal statement to explain their motivation for wishing to take the Masters Programme and to indicate their future career plans. This should also cover the following points:
What is your current work?
What is your experience in the field of public health or pathway of interest?
Why do you want to study a postgraduate qualification in public health or pathway of interest?
How do you intend to use your qualification in the future?
Candidates will also be required to submit two references, their degree transcript and degree certificate.
Applications should be made online via our website following the link below. All candidates need to apply for the MSc in the first instance regardless of their intended exit award.
Applicants wishing to only register for a Certificate or Diploma should notify the Admissions Team upon application where possible. Students who later wish to register for a Certificate or Diploma have until the 02 October 2015 to notify the Faculty of their request to move to a Certificate or Diploma. As such, any student who notifies the Faculty of their wish to move to the Certificate or Diploma by this deadline will be charged the appropriate fee for these programmes. Any student who wishes to move after this date would not be entitled to any refund from the full MSc fee.
Please note that we do not offer a Certificate for the Intelligence pathway.
For more details on applying to Southampton and to apply online, please visit the Application Website. Please note this programme is offered by the Faculty of Medicine, so please choose the Faculty of Medicine in the drop down menu on the application form.
We recommend that international students apply at least 6 weeks before the programme starts to ensure that they are able meet our requirements and are able to apply for a visa in time. We cannot guarantee that students who apply later than this will be able to begin the programme that year.
Places are limited to 30-35 students per academic year, we encourage anyone interested in the masters programme to apply as soon as possible.
The MSc Public Health programme consists of four core modules that provide the essential knowledge and skills for a professional career in this specialism.
Optional modules allow you to develop your interests in particular areas such as communicable disease control and advanced statistics for epidemiology. Depending on the credit value of the module, you will select two or four modules from a choice of demography, health geography and/or medical/health subjects.
The pathways include extra core modules in relevant subjects with one optional module. The pathway modules are shown in the next tab.
You will also write a dissertation of 6,500 words based on research or a professional project of your choice.
Option modules in demography and social sciences will be available depending on timetabling requirements.
Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical
student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if s/he takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided.
More detailed information can be found in the programme handbook (or other appropriate guide or website).
Learning & Assessment
The University of Southampton is committed to developing learners who are able to cultivate a reflective and problem-solving approach to their practice by acquiring knowledge and skills in a contextual, integrated manner. We promote student-centred approaches and recognise the value of learning from past and current experiences as well as the introduction of new knowledge.
We aim to support you to become an independent life-long learner able to plan and manage your own learning. Learning and teaching methods are designed to integrate theory with practice, to foster a spirit of enquiry and to encourage new ways of thinking.
The programme is designed to maximise multidisciplinary and international learning. It is open to students from a range of disciplines and from across the globe, providing excellent opportunities for multinational learning and practical experience of collaborative working. We will use a variety of teaching methods including formal lectures, seminars, enquiry and work based learning, case studies, workshops, group work, web-based learning and self-directed study.
Our assessment methods enable you to demonstrate achievement of the programme’s learning outcomes as you progress through each module. You will encounter a variety of approaches to assessment that will help you demonstrate your knowledge and understanding through utilisation of a range of study skills. The assessment methods are designed to help you integrate theory with practice, develop your skills of critical thinking and analysis, and achieve mastery in your field of public health.
The range of assessment methods may include: critical appraisals, case studies, problem solving, multiple choice exams, reflective accounts, essays, debates, oral presentations and a dissertation.
Public Health Nutrition is a branch of nutrition and of international or global public health that promotes good health through appropriate food choice, diet and physical activity to prevent primary (and secondary) nutrition related illness at the population level. It is built on a foundation of biological and social sciences, uses and generates epidemiological evidence and involves the development and implementation of programs to improve and maintain health and well-being.
The aim for those working as public health nutritionists is to enable everyone to achieve greater health and well-being. Our specialist pathway in nutrition prepares students for employment in three main career tracks, namely as practitioners in public health, academic research or public health intelligence.
As a practitioner a public health nutritionist is involved in developing, implementing and evaluating nutrition policies and programmes. All three career tracks generate the evidence base for interventions around food, diet and physical activity to have a positive impact on the health and well-being of communities and populations. Those who work in public health intelligence focus on epidemiology and surveillance of nutrition-related diseases, especially the non-communicable ones such as obesity and its consequences.
More than 500 people have already graduated from this programme. Graduates may work in local government public health or health promotion, or in national government nutrition departments. They may also work for a charity such as BNF, NHF, CASH, the or Children’s Food Trust or Action against Hunger; in the private sector; in the food industry for a large retailer such as Waitrose or manufacturer or trade body or association like FDF or IGD; or for professional bodies, like the Association for Nutrition. Some work for themselves as free-lance or independent consultants, for example, providing technical advice or evaluating projects. Some public health nutritionists are educators working in colleges or universities or trainers providing vocational courses.
The University of Southampton is host to the only Biomedical Research Unit in Nutrition in the country, with a focus on translational research; we have many specialist academics in this field.
The nutrition pathway offers six core modules and an optional module. They cover all the knowledge and skills needed by a professional who aims to work in this specialism. You will also write a dissertation of 6,500 words based on research or a professional project of your choice.
Our new specialist pathway in intelligence prepares students for employment in the health intelligence sector that covers collecting, analysing, interpreting, synthesising and communicating health intelligence. This information relates to assessing, measuring and describing health and wellbeing, health risks, health needs and health outcomes of different populations. Those working in health intelligence and information can have roles in information management, research and intelligence work for public health observatories or data management in specific programmes and projects.
Geography at Southampton is one of Britain’s leading centres for geographical research, with excellent facilities, a strong publication record, and is home to the GeoData Institute which has provided research and consultancy in geospatial data management, analysis and processing for over 20 years.
The MSc Public Health intelligence pathway is delivered by Geography's Population Health and Wellbeing research group, which specialises in population health and the spatial analysis and modelling of population. The group also specialises in spatio-temporal population modelling and synthetic estimation and has a particular interest in the influence of the social, natural and built environment on population health. Members of the group developed the census output areas and workplace zones for the 2011 census and also co-direct the Economic and Social Research Council's Administrative Data Research Centre for England. They cover all the knowledge and skills needed by a professional who aims to work in this specialism.
Students should choose at least two of the three GIS-based modules, namely 'Core skills in Geographical Information Systems (GIS)', 'GIS for analysis of health', and 'GIS for healthcare management'. Those who do not take 'Core skills in Geographical Information Systems (GIS)' should have equivalent prior qualifications or experience, including in the practical use of GIS software relevant to the programme.
Students take five core modules and have a choice of two modules; one of two from GIS and one of two from Medicine. You will also write a dissertation of 6,500 words based on research or a professional project of your choice.
Our new specialist pathway explores the interrelationships between global health and population patterns and processes.
Students on this pathway will be equipped to analyse complex demographic and health data to support social policy-making locally, nationally and internationally. This pathway prepares students for employment as global health analysts in a wide range of organisations and sectors including the health and social care professions, market research, local and national government departments, international organisations and many other agencies. Other graduates may pursue PhD studies in this area.
This pathway is delivered by the Social Statistics & Demography departmentof the University’s Social Sciences Academic Unit. The department’s Faculty collaborates with colleagues across the University, contributing analytical expertise to address challenging issues including health inequalities, well-being and migration. The work of the Social Science Academic Unit has impact across the world and the Unit is known for the application of cutting-edge quantitative and qualitative methods.
The global pathway offers seven core modules and three optional modules of which students choose one. They cover all the knowledge and skills needed by a professional who aims to work in this specialism. You will also write a dissertation of 6,500 words based on research or a professional project of your choice.
Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.
In addition to this, students registered for this programme typically also have to pay for:
Printing and copying
In the majority of cases, coursework such as essays, projects and dissertations is likely to be submitted online. However, there are some items where it is not possible to submit online and students will be asked to provide a printed copy. The University printing costs are currently:
A4 – 5p per side (black and white) or 25p per side (colour).
A3 – 10p per side (black and white) or 50p per side (colour).
Details about printing costs for academic posters can be found here:
There will also be further costs for the following, not purchasable from the University:
Candidates may use calculators in the examination room only as specified by the University and as permitted by the rubric of individual examination papers. The University approved model is Casio FX-570. This may be purchased from any source and no longer needs to carry the University logo.
You will be expected to provide your own day-to-day stationery items, e.g. pens, pencils, notebooks, etc. Any specialist stationery items will be specified under the Additional Costs tab of the relevant module profile.
Where a module specifies core texts these should generally be available on the reserve list in the library. However due to demand, students may prefer to buy their own copies. These can be purchased from any source.
Some modules suggest reading texts as optional background reading. The library may hold copies of such texts, or alternatively you may wish to purchase your own copies. Although not essential reading, you may benefit from the additional reading materials for the module.
Across all campuses and most halls of residence approximately 1700 computer workstations are available. Students may wish to purchase their own desktop/laptop/tablet computer to support their studies. This is entirely optional.
Students will have the opportunity to attend a conference in London, which is timetabled in the programme. However, attendance is optional. You would be expected to pay for the costs of any travel associated with the conference if you chose to attend.
In some cases you'll be able to choose modules (which may have different costs associated with that module) which will change the overall cost of a programme to you. Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at www.calendar.soton.ac.uk.
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