School of Social and Political Science

MSc Health Policy

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As part of the University-wide response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have reviewed our programmes and have decided to merge the MSc Health Policy degree with the MSc Global Health Policy degree for the 2021-22 academic year.

Students on this merged programme - MSc Global Health Policy - will be able to access the broad range of courses that are offered in the University's Global Health Policy Unit. 

More information on MSc Global Health Policy

Understand and engage with the key challenges in health policy

The MSc Health Policy will develop your understanding of, and critical engagement with, key challenges in health policy. Both state and non-state actors grapple with how best to promote the health of communities and populations, including the most effective strategies for preventing disease, ensuring efficient and high quality health care, and reducing health inequalities.

The programme is designed for individuals interested in a wide range of health-related roles.

These challenges extend beyond the traditional domain of the health sector, requiring engagement with economic and social policy and a range of non-state actors including third sector organisations, commercial interests and international agencies.

Our students

Our students come from countries at all levels of economic development and from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds, with many using the MSc as an investment to develop their careers or move into a more policy-focused role. While the programme has a strong policy focus, it also includes an academic orientation so is good preparation for further research at PhD level.


The MSc in Health Policy is designed for individuals interested in a wide range of health-related roles including:

  • government and international agencies
  • health advocacy
  • health administration and health care delivery
  • consultancies
  • advisory roles
  • the commercial sector
  • health-related research

Within the programme there is scope for you to specialise in either health systems or health inequalities, or to follow a broad policy stream.

Health Systems

The Health Systems stream is ideal for those seeking to work in health care policy, planning or management, in either the public or private sectors. It will expose you to different models of health care financing, purchasing and delivery, equipping them to engage with key contemporary challenges and debates including how to achieve sustainable health care financing, the role of the state in health care, the appropriate mix of public and private provision, and how best to achieve the goals of equity, efficiency and quality in health care delivery.

Health Inequalities

The Health Inequalities stream is ideal for those seeking to engage with health disparities both between and within countries, particularly those relating to inequities in social structures and power. In this stream you will explore evidence and policy responses to health inequalities across a range of axes, including class/socioeconomic position, ethnicity/race and gender, and will consider how health and its determinants are shaped by a range of influences including social and economic policy, commercial power and political conflict. This stream is particularly suited to those interested in working in policy, advocacy and research settings with a focus on health equity.


You may also elect to follow a broad policy stream within the MSc Health Policy, rather than specialising in health systems or health inequalities. This stream equips you with an understanding of how health policy fits within broader approaches to social and economic policy, and is particularly suitable for individuals wanting to work in public policy, advocacy or research.

What will I learn?

On completion of this programme you will be able to understand, critically appraise and apply key concepts and theories within policy studies, international political economy and public health science with specific reference to social and economic determinants of population health status; public health policy norms; concepts of epidemiology and research methods; and processes and institutions of public policy-making.

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

You will complete one compulsory course and a number of option courses.


Following the taught courses, you will work towards an independently researched dissertation.

Additional information
Global Public Health Unit

The MSc programme is situated within the Global Health Policy Unit, which is located in University’s School of Social and Political Science rather than a medical school. This reflects our programme’s reach across traditional boundaries, linking policy analysis, public health, social policy, economics, sociology, medicine and epidemiology. The MSc programme offers innovative research-led teaching that draws on academic expertise from all these disciplines, while also benefitting from close links with the Centre for Population Health Sciences in the University's medical college.


Undergraduate contact

The School of Social and Political Science sits within the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.  All enquiries and applications relating to undergraduate admissions to the School are handled by our College. Please contact:

CAHSS Undergraduate Admissions
University of Edinburgh
57 George Square
Edinburgh, EH8 9JX

Tel: +44 (0)131 650 3565