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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Programme Structure

The flexible structure of our online programme means you can specialise in the fields that interest you most, and organise study around your other commitments.

The online MSc in Global Health Policy is taken part-time, starting in September.  Many of our students balance their studies alongside other commitments. The programme’s flexible structure supports this; for example, students can either condense courses into two semesters, or spread a lighter workload across three semesters.

There are two 11 week semesters each year, September to December and January to April. However, a number of the elective courses available are offered between May and September, facilitating spread of workload over the summer where preferred.

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 a 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. 


Compulsory Courses

  1. Public Health and Health Policy (Semester 1, 20 credits)
    Examines the key concepts and debates relating to public health and health policy in a global context aiming to understand the policy making process, analyse the roles of key health policy actors, and consider the relationship between evidence & policy in relation to health.

The  dissertation is also a compulsory course for those students taking the MSc route - and a suite of research training is provided to these students to help prepare them for the dissertation process.

Core Elective Courses

Select between 50 - 70 credits:

  1. Health Systems Analysis (Semester 1, 20 credits)
    Examines healthcare systems, policies and reforms with a focus on understanding economic principles and how these are applied by health policy-makers.
  2. Global Health Governance (Semester 2, 20 credits)
    Examines how health policy is increasingly being shaped beyond the level of the nation state, focusing on the changing roles of international organisations, the commercial sector and civil society.
  3. Health Inequities and Social Determinant of Health (Semester 2, 20 credits)
    Looks at the extent of inequalities in health, explores the underlying determinants of health and health inequalities, and considers policy responses to those inequities.
  4. Researching Health Policy: Qualitative Approaches
    New for 2019. Details to be confirmed.
  5. Researching Health Policy: Quantitative Approaches
    New for 2019. Details to be confirmed.

Elective courses (select up to 50 credits)

There are over 15 elective courses available. These may vary in any given year, but typically include courses such as:


The dissertation course is worth 60 credits and a requirement for the award of an MSc. The thesis itself is an extended piece of writing of up to 15,000 words, based on independent study of a topic largely of the student's choosing and in discussion with the Programme Director. It tests students' ability to conduct research autonomously, to organise effectively larger quantities of information, and to communicate their research findings in a fluent and structured fashion. Students are expected to engage with the expert literature on global health policy, and to reference adequately. Students will also submit a Project Plan, worth 10% of their grade, of no more than 1000 words.

One-to-one supervision is provided via email, telephone, Skype and / or Collaborate. Supervisors will advise on: methodology, coherence and relevance of the dissertation and help the student to define the research problem; discuss mutual availability and methods of contact etc.; give basic advice on relevant bodies of literature to get the research started and/or refer the student to another member of staff for suggestions on sources; discuss and approve draft outline and timetable of work; provide diagnostic comment and constructive suggestions; help with issues of thesis and dissertation structure.

Examples of previous dissertation topics (on-campus programme):

  • Pharmaceutical Industry and Public-Private Partnerships: a solution to the eradication of communicable diseases?
  • What can the experiences of paediatric doctors inform us about why there is a retention crisis of paediatric trainees in the UK NHS?
  • The use of mhealth in self-care of elderly in the Netherlands
  • The World Health Organization's approach to social science interventions in health emergency response
  • Private sector primary health care (PHC) involvement in tuberculosis treatment and control
  • Targeting approaches used in social protection initiatives to improve Most Vulnerable Children livelihood in Tanzania
  • Scotland's mental health strategy and the role of the third sector 
  • Evaluating EMA Adaptive Pathways as a solution to improving access to medicines in Europe


We use a variety of assessment formats, so that you can demonstrate your learning in the best way possible.

Types of assessment vary between courses but many involve an essay component, where students choose from a list of possible questions around 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 entire process takes place online. All courses are assessed using coursework assignments, which are submitted via the online portal, marked online and returned to students electronically.

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