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MSc Public Health

Gain the skills and knowledge to work at a managerial or strategic level in public health. Whether you work in a local authority, health care, social care, community and voluntary organisations, school or other public health setting, this course can help to further your career and provide the opportunity to explore public health issues from a UK and global perspective.

Throughout there is a focus on
• health inequalities
• responsibility for health - what is the role of the individual and government
• the use of evidence in public health policy and practice
• the role of social, psychological, economic and cultural factors in relation to individual and population health

Course length 1-3 Year(s)
Location Collegiate Campus

Course description

Over six core modules, two electives and a dissertation, you explore and critique key concepts and models in public health theory, policy and practice.

The course is interesting to

• (public) health practitioners currently working in the UK or overseas: each year, the cohort has been made up of around 60% overseas students from all over the world alongside students from a range of public health organisations in the local area. If you currently work in a public health role you can gain academic credit for work based learning in the public health practice elective

• practitioners not in a public health role, but working in organisations with a (potential) public health remit, for example local authorities, housing associations, schools, social services, criminal justice system, voluntary and community organisations

• practitioners working with population groups who experience inequality, for example people with disabilities, older people, asylum seekers and refugees, people who are unemployed, people with mental health conditions, people with chronic illness, and who wish to explore these communities in a public health context.

• students who have just completed their undergraduate studies in a related discipline. In the past we have had students from social work, education, sports science, food and nutrition, nursing and a range of professions allied to medicine.

You explore the links between policy, evidence and practice and you address key questions including

• how is the health of individuals, groups and populations determined?
• who is responsible for health and what is the role of the government?
• how can health be promoted?
• which skills are required for health promotion and developing the public health agenda?
• what are the implications of emerging agendas?

The course builds on the growing importance of health promotion, public health, and health and community development on local, national and international levels.

You learn how successful management of public health requires development of critical approaches to theory, practice, and outcome measurement. We give you the knowledge and skills to be more effective in your role.

You develop knowledge in the 10 key public health competencies and standards needed to join the UK Voluntary Register for Public Health specialists. This registration allows you to work at a senior level in public health.

These include • strategic leadership for health • working with and for communities • developing health programmes and services • reducing inequalities.

Work experience

If you don’t already work in this sector, we work closely with local health organisations and may be able to provide you with access to work experience that will help you get the most out of your studies and improve your chances of find a job after the course.

International students are most welcome on this course. At Sheffield Hallam University we provide international students with a wealth of support, from pre-arrival right up to, and including, study support whilst you are studying here. Please see the International Experience Team webpage for more information.

Entry requirements

2017 entry requirements

Normally a degree or other qualification at an equivalent level plus experience in the field of public health or research. We are keen to encourage applicants from a variety of backgrounds.

You may also be able to claim credit points which can reduce the amount of time it takes to complete your qualification at Sheffield Hallam. Find out more

If English is not your first language you typically need an IELTS 6.5 score with a minimum of 6.0 in writing and 5.5 in all other skill areas or equivalent. If your English language skill is currently below IELTS 6.5 we recommend you consider a Sheffield Hallam University Pre-sessional English course which will enable you to achieve an equivalent English score.

International and European entry qualifications

If you are an International or non-UK European student, you can find out more about the country specific qualifications we accept on our international qualifications page.

Course structure

Full-time – 18 months (four modules a semester plus dissertation)
Part-time – typically three years (two modules a semester plus dissertation). Part-time students attend four hours a week on campus during the day.
Starts September

Typical modules may include

Course design

Each of the modules is an independent module of study and can be taken alone. The core modules do, however, have a number of themes developed across them. These include
• tackling inequalities in health
• the relationship between policy, evidence and public health practice
• local, national and international perspectives in health

Course structure and design

Each of the modules is an independent module of study and can be taken alone. The core modules do, however, have a number of themes developed across them. These include
• tackling inequalities in health
• the relationship between policy, evidence and public health practice
• local, national and international perspectives in health

Core modules

Health promotion principles, policy and practice
You critically analyse public health and health promotion theory in relation to practice. This helps you to develop as a reflective practitioner and to address the wider public health issues in a social and political context.

Inequality, health and poverty
You examine the social model of health and health inequalities from a range of social science perspectives. You explore • individual • social • economic and political factors in relation to health, illness and health inequalities.

Health, culture and public health development work
You explore, from an anthropological perspective, how public health development work can be effectively sustained in a culturally diverse world and seek to answer the key questions • what is culture? • why is culture important for public health? • how can public health development work be effective?

Public health evidence
You explore various theoretical and practical approaches to social research in public health and examine ethical issues, processes and practices in public health. You also explore the nature and value of different sources and the implications for policy development.

Foundation of epidemiology A
You develop an understanding of the principles behind obtaining high quality data, devise appropriate schemes for the collection of raw data and analyse primary and secondary data using appropriate software.

Foundation of epidemiology B
You develop skills to read, interpret and assess good quality scientific research underpinning public health policy and practice

Infectious diseases and long term conditions
This module introduces you to public health strategy, policy and practice in relation to the control and management of infectious disease and long term conditions and explores knowledge and expertise relevant to responding to these public health challenges.

You conduct an independent study using and drawing from what you have learned on the course as applied to a public health topic of your choice. For overseas students it may be possible to undertake this work in their own county.


Choose two from

Public health nutrition
You examine government approaches to addressing public health issues relating to food, diet and introduce physical activity. You explore sociological and psychological theories and perspectives underpinning public health practice in this area.

Public health practice
This is a work-based module in which you critically explore aspects of public health practice within your workplace.

Assessment Students are assessed using a variety of methods: reports, presentations, book reviews and essays and for all but three assessment tasks students are able to choose a public health topic and/or population group on which to focus their work. There are no examinations.


By successfully completing this course, you may find that it makes it easier to gain promotion, or enter jobs in public health departments of primary care trusts. Previous graduates have gained roles such as teenage pregnancy coordinator, health promotion specialist and five-a-day co-ordinator. Others have joined local authorities, the voluntary sector such as Agewell, and become Sure Start managers.

A number of graduates have remained in their roles as health visitors, public health nurses or midwives, working more strategically and in more depth. Overseas students have used the qualification to work successfully in their own countries. Some people have taken the course to work towards becoming a nurse consultant.

The course also provides an excellent foundation for further academic study including PhDs.


Home / EU student

Please note tuition fees may increase in each subsequent academic year of your course, subject to government regulations on fee increases and in line with inflation. More information can be found in the ‘Tuition Fee Increases’ section of our Fees Regulations (PDF, 2.10 MB)

2016/17 academic year

Typically £6,300 for the course

Postgraduate loans of up to £10,000 are available across the majority of subject areas.

2017/18 academic year

Typically £6,400 for the course

Part-time – typically £2,135 a stage for PgCert, PgDip and MSc stages

International student

2016/17 academic year

Typically £12,500 for the course

2017/18 academic year

Typically £13,250 for the course

Additional course costs

This link allows you to view estimated costs associated with the main activities on specific courses. These are estimates and, as such, are only an indication of additional course costs. Actual costs can vary greatly depending on the choices you make during your course.

Additional costs information

How to apply

Complete the application form available at www.shu.ac.uk/study/form

Any offer of a place to study is subject to your acceptance of the University’s Terms and Conditions and student Regulations.

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