University of Chester

Programme Specification
Public Health MSc
2014 - 2015

Master of Science

Public Health

Public Health

University of Chester

University of Chester

University of Chester main campus

Postgraduate (Taught)

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

2 years part-time study / 1 year full-time study

6 Years

Annual - October




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Health and Social Care Health and Social Care

The programme has been benchmarked against the Public Health Skills and Career Framework which defines nine areas of competence applicable to the UK multi-disciplinary public health workforce (Public Health Resource Unit [PHRU] & Skills for Health [SfH], 2008).


Health and Social Care Postgraduate Programmes Assessment Board

Tuesday 1st December 2009

The postgraduate programme in Public Health has been designed to meet the needs and aspirations of a number of constitutent groups, particularly the following:

  • public health specialists, who are working at a senior policy level;
  • practitioners who work face-to-face with the public in a variety of settings; and
  • the wider workforce, who have public health as part of their role.

The programme is sufficiently flexible to enable students to study for interim awards (Postgraduate Certificate and Postgraduate Diploma) as well as the full Masters, or study single modules on a free standing basis only for continuing professional development purposes.

The overall aims of the programme are to:

  • develop well-informed and dynamic individuals who have a critical understanding of the determinants of health and the opportunities and challenges associated with promoting and protecting public health;
  • encourage students to apply theoretical knowledge to public health practice in a systematic and critically informed manner; and
  • foster an enquiring approach to the study of qualitative and quantitative evidence and its application to the design, delivery and evaluation of public health approaches and interventions.

Knowledge and Understanding

Thinking or Cognitive Skills

Practical Skills

Key Skills

  • Communication
  • Application of Number
  • Information Literacy and Technology
  • Improving own learning and performance
  • Working with others
  • Problem solving

Transferable Professional Skills

In line with the University of Chester's Principles and Regulations for Postgraduate Programmes, the programme is modular in structure, each module comprising 20 credits at Level 7, and equivalent to 200 hours of learning. The MSc comprises nine 20 credit modules (180 credits) at least 60 credits of which must involve advanced independent study in the form of a dissertation. In addition to the MSc, it is possible to study for an interim award – either a Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits) or a Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits). For the certificate, diploma and MSc, all modules must be at Level 7. It is also envisaged that individual modules might be studied on a free standing basis for continuing professional development purposes. 

The postgraduate programme comprises three core modules. Students undertaking three core modules indicated below can exit with a postgraudate certificate in public health.  Students completing three core modules and three options can exit with a postgraduate diploma in global health.  On successful completion of the three core modules, three option modules and the dissertation with research methods module, student will exit with an MSc in Public Health.

Core postgraduate modules
  • PH7006 Epidemiology and statistics for public health
  • PH7007 Protecting population health and wellbeing
  • PH7015 Contemporary issues in public health

Structure of the postgraduate certificate (60 credits)

  • PH7006 Epidemiology and statistics for public health
  • PH7007 Protecting population health and wellbeing
  • PH7015 Contemporary issues in public health
Structure of the postgraduate diploma (120 credits)
  • PH7006 Epidemiology and statistics for public health
  • PH7007 Protecting population health and wellbeing
  • PH7015 Contemporary issues in public health
  • Three option modules

Structure of the Masters (180 credits)

  • PH7006 Epidemiology and statistics for public health
  • PH7007 Protecting population health and wellbeing
  • PH7015 Contemporary issues in public health
  • Three x 20-credit option modules
  • NM7804 Dissertation and Research Methods

The research dissertation provides an opportunity for students to conceptualise, design, plan, execute and write up a research project that addresses a 'real' public health issue relevant to their personal or professional role, situation or setting.

Option modules

  • PH7002 An introduction to statistical methods for quantitative research
  • PH7003 An introduction to qualitative research 
  • PH7008 Advanced statistical methods for quantitative research
  • PH7009 Advanced qualitative research
  • PH7014 Evidence-based public health: concepts, principles and methods 
  • PH7023 Quantitative research design and survey methodology
  • NM7809 Promoting Public Health Practice
  • NM7808 Global Public Health Protection
  • NM7800 Global Health in Action
  • NM7069 Research
It may also be possible for a student to study a Level 7 option module from the University's postgraduate portfolio, in consultation with the programme leader, who would ensure that the integrity of the student’s overall programme was maintained and that any necessary prerequisites were fulfilled.

In terms of the extent to which the programme meets the QAA Framework for Higher Education at Masters Level, it is evident that in both structure and content the programme meets the requirements. The programme is delivered by tutors who are active researchers or public health practitioners in the broad field of public health and who will actively integrate their experience into their teaching. Through this approach, students are exposed to complex problems and issues and are encouraged to explore them systematically, using theory and empirical evidence to reach conclusions. Through the research dissertation, students have the opportunity to develop originality in exploring problems.

The key features of the programme are:

  • it is based on a broad concept of health and approaches the promotion of health and wellbeing as complex and contested;
  • it has a commitment, appropriate at postgraduate level, to developing a critically informed perspective on public health policy and practice;
  • it has a strong commitment to the development of research skills in order for students to develop a critical awareness of the importance of research and evidence in professional practice;
  • the relationship between theory and practice is embedded in the modules in order to encourage students to apply their learning to their current roles and interests;
  • assignments provide a vehicle for students to focus on work-related issues of direct relevance to them.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
NM7069 7 Research 20 N/A
NM7804 7 Dissertation and Research Methodology 60 N/A
NM7808 7 Global Public Health Protection 20 N/A
PH7001 7 Philosophy, theory and practice of research 20 N/A
PH7002 7 An introduction to quantitative research design and statistics 20 N/A
PH7003 7 An introduction to qualitative research 20 N/A
PH7006 7 Epidemiology and statistics for public health 20 N/A
PH7007 7 Protecting population health and wellbeing 20 N/A
PH7008 7 Advanced statistical methods for quantitative research 20 N/A
PH7009 7 Advanced qualitative research 20 N/A
PH7014 7 Evidence-based public health: concepts, principles and methods 20 N/A
PH7015 7 Contemporary issues in public health 20 N/A
PH7023 7 Quantitative research design and survey methodology 20 N/A

  • 60 credits at level 7 for a Postgraduate Certificate in Public Health.
  • 120 credits at level 7 for a PostgraduateDiploma in Global Health.
  • 180 credits at level 7for a Master of Science in Public Health.
  • 60 credits at level 7 for a Postgraduate Certificate in Public Health.
  • 120 credits at level 7 for a PostgraduateDiploma in Global Health.
  • 180 credits at level 7for a Master of Science in Public Health.

The Programme has been designed to be attractive to students from a wide range of academic, professional and disciplinary backgrounds. It is likely that many potential students will not have an academic background in public health but may be working in public health, social or community sectors in some capacity. Normally, students should have a good first degree (minimum of 2.2) or equivalent professional qualifications. Alternatively, students with relevant experience and who can demonstrate their ability to study at postgraduate level may be able to apply through the University's Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) route. Applicants should have fluent writing skills and be numerate. Overseas students whose first language is not English will need to have a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 or TOEFL of 575 (written version) or 90 (internet version), assessed in the last three years.

The overall structure of the postgraduate programme in public health, as well as the aims, learning outcomes and content of the individual modules, have been informed by Section D2.8 of the University of Chester\'s Principles and Regulations, which define the postgraduate level of study and the Quality Assurance Agency Higher Education descriptors. In addition, the Public Health Skills and Career Framework (PHRU & SfL, 2008), and endorsed by the Department of Health, has been used to define and organise the core areas of knowledge and identify relevant skills. This framework is currently viewed as the main point of reference for developing a \

The policy of the programme team in respect of its students is to strive to provide a stimulating, challenging and enjoyable learning environment, commensurate with the aims of the programme.  Learning and teaching approaches seek to develop students' knowledge, understanding, insight and skills concerning the theory and practice of public health in the 'real world'. In keping with the nature of postgraduate study, students are encouraged to assume maximum responsibility for their own learning, and to utilise actively the many resources available to them within their learning environment, relating issues and assignments to the professional context where appropriate.  A variety of learning and teaching methods are used to meet the programme aims and learning outcomes.  These include tutorials, small group work, discussion, seminar presentations, formal lectures, project work, computer-based workshops and experiential learning activities.  Self-directed and peer learning are encouraged throughout and, consistent with the philosophy of the programme, peer and self assessment are used in the formative assessment process to complement tutor assessment.  Student involvement is enabled by the commitment of staff to encourage participation.  In addition, for modules NM7804 (Dissertation and Research Methods), students attend group support sessions as well as having access to their individual dissertation supervisor.  Group sessions deal with generic issues concerning all dissertation students, whilst individual tutorial sessions are utilised to discuss methodologicaland conceptual issues and to give substantive support of direct relevant to individual students.  

The staff teaching on the postgraduate programme in Public Health are all either active researchers or, in the case of visiting lecturers, members of the public health workforce, and these diverse experiences are used to inform teaching. As indicated above, a number of visiting lecturers will be used on key modules where policy and practice are a particular focus of the module. For example, Associate Director of Public Health from local authority has been made honorary research fellow and three public health consultants have been made honorary professors of the Faculty of Health and Social Care.  The use of visiting lecturers in this way is seen as an important dimension of the programme in terms of strengthening its relevance and currency with students as well as enabling students to relate theory to practice.  The use of visiting lecturers will help provide students with an enthusiastic and interesting backdrop to their studies, with opportunities for staff and students to engage in debate about public health issues and for students to tap into a wide pool of expertise. 

Students on the Public Health programme are introduced to the Learning Support Services (LSS) at the University during their induction programme, at which a member of staff from LSS describes the support available. Tutors will direct individual students there, or arrange group support sessions for particular issues if appropriate. 

Assessment within this programme conforms to the University's level 7 assessment criteria for written assignments, dissertations and practical presentations. In line with the University of Chester Modular Framework for taught postgraduate programmes, all assessments are linked to modular learning outcomes and are of a length commensurate with current University modular guidelines, that is, between 4,000 - 5,500 words, or their equivalent. In line with the overall rationale of the Programme, a variety of approaches to assessment are used which reflect the demands of the modules. There are opportunities for students to contextualise their assignments in terms of their professional settings. The assessment of modules is both formative and summative. Summative assessment includes the submission of essay-type assignments, analysis of case studies and oral presentations. Formative assessment includes self, peer and tutor assessment of seminar/workshop presentations and tasks. 

  • Demonstrate critical reasoning with regard to complex issues, which shows an ability to explore and develop alternative solutions.
  • Critical evaluation of key concepts of knowledge.  Extensive systematic reading and demonstration of insight and originality.
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of relevant knowledge and applicable techniques which are at the forefront of professional practice.
  • Demonstrate synthesis and be able to deal with complex issues in an original manner.
  • Demonstrae a systematic understanding and critical awareness of current and/or new insight, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of professional knowledge and practice.
  • Ability to critically evaluate current research, methodology and scholarship and, where appropriate, propose new hypotheses.
  • Excellent communication skills which can reach a wider audience.


The University is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.

This programme is designed to ensure inclusivity and ensure the diverse needs of our students are provided for.  No student will be disadvantaged on the basis of age; disability; gender reassignment; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; sexual orientation.

The programme takes an inter-professional stance, not seeking to be exclusively nurse-orientated although it is recognised that this group may take up the programme more commonly than other professions.

Support for students with specific learning needs is available via the University's Learning Support System.

A flexible approach to delivery is sought, with consultations with students informing the timetabling whenever possible.

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