University of Chester

Programme Specification
Rural Health MSc
2016 - 2017

Master of Science

Rural Health

Rural Health MSc

University of Chester

University of Chester

University Centre Shrewsbury.


Postgraduate (Taught)

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

One year

6 Years

Annual - January - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Medicine, Dentistry and Life Sciences Chester Medical School

This programme has been benchmarked against the following General Medical Council, Good Medical Practice Guidance (2006)

Royal College of General Practitioners Rural Forum (2014) 

QAA (2016) Safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education Healthcare professions. Statements benchmarking academic and practitioner standards in healthcare subjects. 

Department of Health, Knowledge and Skills Framework (2004)

Department of Health (2004). The NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (NHS KSF) and the

Development Review Process (2004)

Higher Education Academy UK Professional Standards Framework (HEA UKPSF) for Teaching and

Supporting Learning in Higher Education (2011)

Institute of Medicine

Thursday 21st July 2016

This postgraduate programme in Rural Health fulfils a current omission in higher education, which specifically addresses the level 7 educational needs of principally health professionals currently working or anticipating to be employed in rural areas for example; general practitioners, community nurses and health visitors, practitioners working in rural organisations and charities, rural health leaders, managers and those engaged with policy development.

The overall aims of the programme are:

  • To provide practitioners with a critical depth of understanding and awareness of the current issues, challenges, and health consequences for people living in rural settings.
  • To enhance healthcare professionals critical understanding of research and theoretical concepts of rural health that underpin health care practice.
  • To address the challenges of working in a rural health environment including critical thinking, problem solving, continuous development of individuals personally and also of their colleagues. 
  • Provide a comprehensive and critical understanding of rural health in its widest context and put forward opportunities for interdisciplinary working with relevant agencies, charities, organisations, voluntary and support groups.
  • Provide an advanced study of the impact of rural health issues on individuals and communities in contemporary society.
  • Increase self awareness and insight into both professional and personal issues related to rural health, providing encouragement and opportunities for reflective thinking, development of mastery of skills in writing, oral presentations, debate and life long learning.
  • Mastery will be developed and demonstrated in the research dissertation.
  • The mastery of gathering, analysing and presenting evidence for innovations in practice, enhancing rural health care and providing opportunities for leadership in practice. 

Graduates will be able to demonstrate a systematic understanding of knowledge and a critical awareness of current issues and/or new insights at the forefront of Rural Health and will be able to:

  • Articulate a critical depth of understanding and awareness of the current issues and challenges, and health consequences of rural health from political, local, national and international perspectives. Examples include shifting populations, low wages, inadequate housing provision, isolated communities and occupations, crime, vulnerable and minority groups, delayed diagnosis and delayed response to medical emergencies (MD7016, MD7074, MD7075, MD7079).
  • Critically understand the experience of living and working in a rural environment in relation to health care practices and provision. For example the impact of isolation on living and working in rural areas, hazards from occupational, inadequate provision of public transport and environmental conditions and inadequate healthcare provision and put forward initiative relevant public health and health promotion policies (MD7016, MD7074, MD7075, MD7079).
  • Demonstrate a critical level of understanding of a broad range of health related issues as applied to the field of rural health for example mental health problems, occupational injuries and the impact of late diagnosis (MD7016, MD7074, MD7075, MD7079).
  • A critical and evidenced based perspective of new and emerging issues relating to rural health for example the significance of digital technology, growth in migration to and from rural areas, and rise in older populations (MD7016, MD7074, MD7075, MD7079).
  • Critically address and demonstrate through leadership the challenges encountered by health professionals working in rural areas for example low recruitment to vacant positions, insufficient resources (MD7016, MD7074, MD7075, MD7079).  
  • Critically evaluate relevant policies and legislation that have an impact upon rural health  (MD7016, MD7074, MD7075, MD7079).  
  • Students will have the knowledge and skills to take a critical and analytical approach to problem solving in relation to rural health care practice (MD7016, MD7074, MD7075, MD7079).
  • Research methods will provide students with an in depth understanding and awareness of research and data collection and practical's which will provide students with an introduction to data analysis and statistics (MD7016, MD7074, MD7075, MD7079).

* The above outcomes will be dependent on module choices and exit award (i.e. PG Cert, PG Dip, MSc)

The student should be able to analyse, synthesise, evaluate, apply and reflect upon information gained from academic and professional literature, professional organisations and experiences in the workplace, in order to understand and propose solutions to challenges identified within the field of Rural Health.

On successful completion of the Postgraduate Certificate in Rural Health graduates will be able to:

  • Synthesise new knowledge gained whilst studying on the course, and be able to make effective decisions and problem solve within a multi-professional team. They will have developed a higher level of knowledge within their professional field of practice and this will facilitate them to further build on their expertise. Graduates will have the thinking and cognitive skills to be proactive in recognising the drivers for change, and implement these effectively within their chosen field of practice. (Certain core modules)

On successful completion of the Postgraduate Diploma in Rural Health graduates will be able to:

  • Build on their cognitive skills to enhance their ability to critically appraise, reflect upon and synthesise the breadth and depth of evidence-based practice pertaining to a wide range of rural healthcare issues. Graduates will be enabled through this to contribute to the development of research-based changes and innovation within their professional field of practice. (Certain core modules)

On successful completion of the MSc in Rural Health graduates will be able to:

  • Utilise their cognitive and higher level thinking skills to be able to critically analyse, appraise and reflect upon a wide range of rural health programmes and contribute to the development of research led innovation within their field of professional practice. Graduates will be cognisant of key drivers for change and have the skills to effect change in their field of practice through effective leadership. (Certain core modules and MD7100)

On successful completion of the Postgraduate Certificate in Rural Health graduates will be able to:

  • Utilise their highly developed clinical skills within their chosen field of professional practice to deliver specialist evidence-based rural health programmes (MD7001, MD7016, MD7075, MD7079, MD7074)

On successful completion of the Postgraduate Diploma in Rural Health graduates will be able to:

  • Employ their sophisticated clinical skills to operate within their chosen field of practice to deliver and critically evaluate specialist rural health or rural health services. Graduates will be able to implement their skills within a multi-professional team, utilising their sound knowledge base and highly developed communication skills (MD7001, MD7016, MD7075, MD7079, MD7074).

On successful completion of the MSc in Rural  Health graduates will be able to:

  • Utilise their acquired expertise to lead rural health programmes  based on best evidence  (MD7001, MD7016, MD7075, MD7079, MD7074, MD7100).

On successful completion of the Postgraduate Certificate in Rural Health graduates will be able to:

  • Employ their knowledge to work with others for the benefit of service users and providers within a rural health environment. (Certain core modules)
  • Effectively communicate information, arguments, and analysis in a variety of forms to specialist and non-specialist audiences (MD7001, MD7016, MD7075, MD7079, MD7074)

On successful completion of the Postgraduate Diploma in Rural Health, graduates will be able to:

  • Work with others to problem solve and effect change in their area of professional practice through utilising their highly developed communication skills. Graduates will have improved and built on their knowledge of rural health specific issues through completion of the research methods module and other coursework. They will be able to effectively evaluate research and apply best evidence to practice (MD7001, MD7016, MD7075, MD7079, MD7074).

On successful completion of the MSc in Rural Health, graduates will be able to:

  • Utilise their sophisticated communication skills to work with others to problem solve and effect change in their area of practice. They will have developed their transferable skills to a high level, and be able to evaluate research and communicate findings effectively. They will be able to identify areas for development within rural health and be able to effectively lead others. Graduates will have highly developed skills of independent and lifelong learning, and will promote this ethos within their area of practice along with professional development in others. ((MD7001, MD7016, MD7075, MD7079, MD7074, MD7100).

Transferable Professional Skills

On successful completion of the course, graduates will be able to progress with their careers, within the clinical professional or research fields, or within an academic field.

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. For students who fail to complete an MSc it is possible to achieve 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 five core modules. Students undertaking three core modules indicated below can exit with a postgraduate certificate in rural health. Students completing six modules can exit with a postgraduate diploma in rural health. On successful completion of five modules, students will have the opportunity of taking one optional module and the dissertation with research methods module, exiting with an MSc in Rural Health.

Core postgraduate modules

MD7001 Evidenced Based Medicine

MD7016 Rural Health and Medicine in Context

MD7074 Rural Environmental and Occupational Health

MD7075 Equality in Rural Health: Challenges and Opportunities

MD 7079 Rural Women's Health


Structure of the postgraduate certificate (60 credits)

MD7001 Evidenced Based Medicine 

MD7016 Rural Health and Medicine in Context

One of the following modules:

MD7074 Rural Environmental and Occupational Health

MD7075 Equality in Rural Health: Challenges and Opportunities

MD 7079 Rural Women's Health


Structure of the postgraduate diploma (120 credits)

MD7001 Evidenced Based Medicine

MD7016 Rural Health and Medicine in Context

MD7074 Rural Environmental and Occupational Health

MD7079 Rural Women's Health

MD7075 Equality in Rural Health: Challenges and opportunities

Students should choose to take their sixth module from one of the following modules;

MD7070 Gender Based Violence

MD7076 Women's Oncology

MD7077 Leadership for Women; Coaching and Mentoring

MD7078 The Public Health Agenda for Women: Challenges and Opportunities


Structure of the Master's degree

The structure of the Master's degree follows the criteria for postgraduate diploma with the addition of the MD7100 Research Dissertation, providing students to critically design, write and carry out their proposed study. It is anticipated that students if they have the opportunity carry out their research within their work environment.

The programme has a number of significant characteristics and these include;

A recognition of the need for developing the continuous professional development of health professionals working in rural areas.

A desire to have a bespoke approach to the needs of students, recognising that different rural areas have different challenges.

It is recognised that the University is seeking to deliver programmes that are empathetic to their CPD needs.

It is recognised that his programme will require specialist lecturers who can provide exciting, current and evidenced based expertise both in terms of teaching and advice.

The programme is part of a suite of programmes to be developed in Shrewsbury addressing the growth and expansion of postgraduate provision in general and medicine in particular.




Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
MD7001 7 Evidence Based Medicine 20 Comp
MD7016 7 Rural Health and Medicine in Context 20 Comp
MD7070 7 Gender Based Violence 20 Optional
MD7074 7 Rural Environmental and Occupational Health 20 Comp
MD7075 7 Equality in Rural Health: Challenges and Opportunities 20 Comp
MD7076 7 Women's Oncology 20 Optional
MD7077 7 Leadership for Women: Coaching and Mentoring 20 Optional
MD7078 7 The Public Health agenda for women: Challenges and Opportunities 20 Optional
MD7079 7 Rural Women's Health 20 Comp
MD7100 7 Research Dissertation 60 Comp

Postgraduate Certificate: 60 credits (level 7). Successful completion of MD7001, MD7016 and one of the following modules;  MD7074, MD7075 and MD7079.

Postgraduate Diploma: 120 credits (level 7). Successful completion of MD7001, MD7016, MD7074, MD7075, MD7079 and one of the following; MD7070, MD7076, MD7077, MD7078

Masters: 180 credits (level 7). Successful completion of MD7001, MD7016, MD7074, MD7075, MD7079 and one of the following; MD7070, MD7076, MD7077, MD7078, and MD7100, Research Dissertation.



Applicants should normally have one of the following:

  • a first degree (minimum 2.2)
  • hold appropriate professional qualifications to be able to demonstrate suitable background knowledge and skills
  • substantial relevant work experience, together with evidence of recent study or writing at an appropriate level

Overseas Candidates should also be competent in English and have achieved, as a minimum, one of the following standards: IELTS-6.5; TOEFL  6.0.

Potential students may be invited to attend for interview

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education's UK Quality Code for Higher Education (QAA, 2011) and the QAA UK Quality Code for Higher Education Chapters B1-10 (QAA, 2013) has provided the framework and underpinning ethos for the development of this programme.

The subject benchmark statements from the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA, 2011) apply to each of the three exit points for the MSc Rural Health programme. The following extracts and commentary describe the MSc end point to which the Postgraduate Certificate and Postgraduate Diploma build, and the table below (section 26) details how the principal outcomes apply to each level.

Firstly, from the UK Quality Code for Higher Education (2011):

Master's degrees are awarded to students who have demonstrated:
•A systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of their academic discipline, field of study or area of professional practice;
•A comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship.
•Originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline.
•Conceptual understanding that enables the student:
o To evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline.
o To evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses.

Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:
•Deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
•Demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level.
•Continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level.

And holders will have:
•The qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring:
o The exercise of initiative and personal responsibility.
o Decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations.
o Independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.

‘Much of the study undertaken for Master's degrees will have been at, or informed by, the forefront of an academic or professional discipline. Students will have shown originality in the application of knowledge, and they will understand how the boundaries of knowledge are advanced through research. They will be able to deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, and they will show originality in tackling and solving problems. They will have the qualities needed for employment in circumstances requiring sound judgement, personal responsibility, and initiative in complex and unpredictable professional environments.' (QAA, 2011, chapter A1, section 1.4, QAA, 2013, Chapter B4: Enabling Student Development and Achievement)

The Programme Leader together with the module leaders will support students' learning and assessment.

Significantly, the programme planning and teaching team consists of a number of established and senior academic staff, all established in research, publishing and teaching activities. 

The teaching methods will include a range of methods appropriate for the facilitation of student learning and they include for example;

Formal lectures


Tutorials, face to face and via Skype.

Scenario and role play.

Oral Presentations

Poster Presentations

Guest lectures

Debates and discussions involving students enrolled on other programmes.

Private study.

Blended learning.

Self-directed and Independent Study.

The MSc will meet the requirements of the University's level 7 teaching and assessment frameworks.

(a) The main learning materials will be in the form of Module Texts supported by a Programme Handbook. The Module Texts will contain a range of materials (e.g. text, articles, data handling exercises and so on) and will be augmented by on-line learning. Students will be encouraged to carry out self-assessment which will be progressively developed using a variety of in-text questions (ITQs) and self-assessment questions (SAQs). Answers to these questions – together with explanatory notes where appropriate – will give valuable on-going feedback to the students as they progress through the learning materials.

(b) On-line learning

On-line facilities (using the University intranet) will be used to provide the following:

 ·        A structured weekly guide to the module content

·        Additional self-assessment questions

·        Assessment details and guidance (e.g. on presenting the assignment(s))

·        Access to distant, appropriate websites

·        Access to Library resources

·        Access to the Discussion Board

·        e-mail links to the tutors

·        Text references.

·        Access to the support infrastructure.


Time will be given each week to student/staff interaction via e-mail. Students will be allocated a time slot during which the module tutor will answer e-mails concerning the module content and/or assessment.

Practical work 

Where appropriate, there will be short practical exercises set within the modules.

Visiting Lecturers

Visiting Lecturers will be used to support the delivery of the programme. This will provide expertise in specialist areas and will include contributions from a range of personnel involved in various relevant disciplines.


There is a strong emphasis on professionalism. It is the expectation that students will attend all lectures that have been formally agreed with the University of Chester unless they have made suitable arrangements with the programme leader. All students will be expected to participate in, and complete any online learning commitments.

The MSc Rural Health will support students currently working as professionals in rural settings. Equally, it will be of value for those students preparing for work as a health professional in a rural setting.

It is recognized that some of the stand alone modules for example the MD7074 may be beneficial for those people involved in health and safety in rural settings.

The MSc Rural Health will also be delivered to international students and the programme is designed to inform students working in rural and remote areas throughout the world.

The programmes of study in the Institute of Medicine fully embrace the University’s commitment to the active promotion of equality of opportunity. The  University seeks to ensure that no student is disadvantaged or discriminated against on the grounds of: gender; age; marital or parental status; sexual orientation; racial group (race, colour, nationality, ethnicity or national origins); creed (religious, political or personal beliefs or principles); membership or non-membership of a trade union; and socio-economic background. It also aims to ensure that disabled people and those with special needs do not suffer unfair discrimination, and that they are enabled to achieve their full potential as students.  The ultimate objective of the programmes delivered are to ensure all aspects of delivery are open to all sections of society and in whose activities all students can participate to the best of their ability. This programme is designed to ensure inclusivity and to ensure that the diverse needs of our students are provided for.  At an Institute level all programmes are developed and delivered with the following aspects in mind:

  • Admission requirements are clearly set out in promotional materials and due consideration is given to a policy of widening access, participation, diversity and equality. 
  • Each module and programme is developed in line with University policy to both promote equality and diversity and encourage all students in the development of their learning.
  • There is flexibility in materials and delivery of teaching to support students with disability or from culturally diverse backgrounds and the Institute works closely with Learning Support in delivering this support through Learning Support Plans.
  • The induction week activities are designed to integrate all students both academically and socially and to make academic staff aware of any issues.  Students are made aware of avenues of support if they a have any issues regarding diversity and equality.
  • Supportive formative exercises are presented in modules in the first year to give all students an equal chance of succeeding.
  • Assessments are designed to afford equal opportunity to all students to display their knowledge and skills. The introduction of anonymous marking and the blue sticker scheme also enhance equal opportunity to all students.
  • In order to ensure that the needs of all students are met any barriers to access (physical, environmental and curriculum) are identified and removed or reasonable adjustments will be made based on requirements.
  • All learning materials and teaching and learning sessions are designed to be free from racist, sexist and other discriminatory assumptions and practices.
  • All lecturers are aware of diversity issues and discharge their PAT roles with knowledge and sympathy and all students are made aware of the Department structures to discuss issues should a concern arise

The MSc Rural Health is a unique programme characterised by a strong appreciation of the challenges experienced by health care professionals working in a rural environment, where many of the problems of health and illness are specific to rural communities. It is an interdisciplinary programme.

Significantly, the programme will seek to address the specific learning needs of its students, appreciating also the pressures of time constraints and pressures and therefore it will be flexible in its delivery.

Back - to previous page  Print - launches the print options panel