University of Chester

Programme Specification
Public Health PGCert
2016 - 2017

Postgraduate Certificate

Public Health

Public Health

University of Chester

University of Chester

University Centre Shrewsbury

Postgraduate (Taught)


Classroom / Laboratory,

1 year

3 Years

Annual - September



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 Module Assessment Board

Thursday 14th August 2014

The postgraduate programme in Public Health has been designed to meet the needs and aspirations of a number of constituent 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 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.
  • To encourage students to apply theoretical knowledge to public health practice in a systematic and critically informed manner.
  • To prepare practitioners who will be able to exercise higher levels of judgement and problem-solving in relation to health promotion and public health, and encourage development in others.
  • To promote opportunities for inter-professional education, which will represent the collaborative nature of public health practice.
  • To develop and promote the skills of synthesis, together with critical, analytical and reflective thinking, and promote an ethos of lifelong learning.
  • To promote learning opportunities which allow practitioners to enhance professional knowledge and expertise in their sphere of practice, and to utilise best evidence to promote research-based change.
  • To provide theoretical underpinning for the key areas of competency in public health practice.

On successful completion of the programme, students will be able to:

  • Discuss the complexity of factors determining the health and well-being of populations (PH7006, PH7017)
  • Discuss the challenge of, and opportunities for promoting, public health (PH7006, PH7017)
  • Discuss the politics of health, particularly in relation to the policy making process (PH7006, PH7019, PH7017)

On successful completion of the programme, students will be able to:

  • Appraise evidence in relation to the effectiveness of services, programmes and interventions to prevent disease and promote health and well-being (PH7006, PH7017)
  • Analyse quantitative and qualitative data on patterns and trends in health and health behaviour, and reach appropriate conclusions (PH7006, PH7017)
  • Apply, with insight, theoretical perspectives to contemporary public health problems (PH7006, PH7017)

On successful completion of the programme, students will be able to:

  • Monitor and assess population health needs using qualitative and quantitative data (PH7006, PH7017)
  • Generate and use evidence in the appraisal of services, interventions and approaches to improving public health and well-being (PH7006, PH7017)
  • Analyse, present and report n qualitative and quantitative public health data (PH7006, PH7017)

Transferable Professional Skills:

All of the knowledge, understanding and skills that students develop on the programme are transferable to numerous professional settings. In particular, students will develop:

  • Effective communication skills (all modules)
  • Analytical ability, and the capacity to consider and solve problems using evidence (all modules)
  • Effective information technology skills (all modules)
  • Project planning and project management skills (all modules)
  • Self-direction and self-motivation (all modules)

On completion of the programme student will:

  • Have completed assessments that require them to communicate effectively both orally and in writing (All modules).
  • Complete two of the core modules that directly require engagement with quantitative data (PH7006 & PH7017).
  • Have been exposed to the most up to date developments in information technology, and are required to demonstrate their information literacy and technology skills through assessed work (All modules).
  • Undertaken group work and discussion encourage students to contribute their own professional knowledge and experience, and to reflect on their learning (All modules).

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 PGCert Public Health comprises three 20 credit modules (60 credits). It is also envisaged that individual modules might be studied on a free standing basis for continuing professional development purposes. 

The modules' content, learning outcomes and assessments are designed with sufficient flexibility to respond to emerging public health hot topics without the need to go through the whole process of revalidation.

Students completing the three core modules indicated below can exit with a Postgraduate Certificate in Public Health. Students can proceed to a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health.

Structure of the postgraduate certificate (60 credits)

  • PH7006 Epidemiology and statistics for public health.
  • PH7017 Theories and principles of public health.
  • PH7019 Leadership and health policy development or PH7020 The economics of health.

The key features of the programme are:

  • It is aimed at the developing public health workforce and reflects the changing national and international agenda.
  • It is student centred so that the programme will both anticipate and respond to the students' learning needs.
  • The programme will be cognisant of the students' professional workplace and will encourage the student to undertake study which has a clear application to practice.
  • The programme will be delivered by lecturers who can offer up-to-date public health experience and expertise.
  • This programme is cognisant with the University's underpinning pastoral and people-centred values, and sees the development of individuals as fundamental to the development of effective professionals.  

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
PH7006 7 Epidemiology and statistics for public health 20 Comp
PH7017 7 Theories and principles of public health 20 Comp
PH7019 7 Leadership and health policy development 20 Comp

Progression of awards
60 credits at level 7 for a Postgraduate Certificate in Public Health.
Routes exist for students to undertake further progression:

  • 120 credits at level 7 for a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health qualification.
  • 180 credits at level 7 for a Master of Public Health qualification.
  • 520 credits at levels 7 and 8 for a Doctor of Public Health qualification.

The programme has been designed to be attractive to students from a wide range of academic, professional and disciplinary backgrounds. It is likely that some potential students will not have an academic background in public health, but may be working in the 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 & SfH, 2008), 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 ‘skilled public health workforce that is fit for purpose to tackle health inequalities and deliver the national public health agenda' (PHRU & SfH, 2008, p. 5).

The framework, based on four core and five defined areas of competence, has been used to construct the postgraduate curriculum. This framework is currently seen as the defining set of standards for the whole public health workforce. The nine areas of competence are shown below.

Core competences and knowledge areas

  • Surveillance and assessment of the population's health and wellbeing.
  • Assessing the evidence of effectiveness of interventions, programmes and services to improve population health and wellbeing.
  • Policy and strategy development and implementation to improve population health and wellbeing.
  • Leadership and collaborative working to improve population health and wellbeing.

Defined competences and knowledge areas

  • Health improvement.
  • Health protection.
  • Public health intelligence.
  • Academic public health.
  • Health and social care quality. 

In terms of the extent to which the programme meets the QAA Framework for Higher Education at level7, 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 practitioners in the broad field of public health, 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.

The aim has been to construct a coherent set of core modules that cover the key knowledge and skills defined in the nine areas of competence.

Students experience a variety of teaching and learning methods designed to facilitate the achievement of all learning outcomes at level 7 within a student-centred approach, and to foster personal and professional development. Student learning is supported by the module leader, programme leader, and the Learning and Information Services department as appropriate.

Methods of learning and teaching will include:

  • Tutorials.
  • Seminars, presentations and debates.
  • Scenario-based learning sessions.
  • Reflection.
  • Formal lectures.
  • Self-directed study.
  • Private study sessions.
  • Blended learning.

Assessment within this programme conforms to the University's level 7 assessment criteria for written assignments and oral 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 4000 and 5500 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. Module assessment is both formative and summative, and both types are designed to provide opportunities for the integration of theory and practice. 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.
  • Demonstrate 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 deploy accurately, creatively and imaginatively established techniques of analysis and enquiry.
  • 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 course takes an inter-professional stance, not seeking to be exclusively medical and/or 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 Learning and Information Services.
  • The programme takes a non-sexist, non-racist, non-ageist stance, although it is recognised that some groups will take up the programme more than others.
  • A flexible approach to delivery is sought, with consultations with students informing the timetabling whenever possible.

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