University of Chester

Programme Specification
Applied Public Health PGCert
2017 - 2018

Postgraduate Certificate

Applied Public Health

Applied Public Health

University of Chester

University of Chester

Riverside Campus, Chester

Padgate Campus, Warrington

Off-campus client locations as determined by the Faculty

Postgraduate (Taught)


Classroom / Laboratory, Distance, Work-Based inc.(practice / placement)

1 year (part-time)

3 Years

Annual - January


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).

Faculty of Health and Social Care, Postgraduate Module Assessment Board

Thursday 23rd July 2015

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

  • British Army Medical Support Officers (MSOs) undertaking MSO foundation year training;
  • Other public health specialists who are working at a senior policy level in military and wider societal roles;
  • Armed Forces Healthcare Practitioners who work face-to-face with populations in a variety of settings;
  • The wider healthcare 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 in both military and civilian environments (PH7024)
  • To encourage students to apply theoretical knowledge to public health practice in a systematic and critically informed manner (PH7024, PH7025, & PH7026)
  • 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 within both military and civilian contexts (PH7024)
  • To promote opportunities for inter-professional education, which will represent the collaborative nature of public health practice (PH7024, PH7025)
  • To develop and promote the skills of synthesis, together with critical, analytical and reflective thinking, and promote an ethos of lifelong learning (PH7024 & PH7026)
  • 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 (PH7024, PH7025, & PH7026)
  • To provide theoretical underpinning for the key areas of competency in public health practice (PH7024, PH7025, & PH7026)

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

  • Discuss the complexity of factors determining the health and well-being of populations in both military and civilian contexts (PH7024, PH7026);
  • Discuss the challenge of, and opportunities for, promoting public health across a range of populations (PH7024);
  • Discuss the wider politics of health, particularly in relation to civilian policy making processes and military doctrine (PH7024, PH7026).

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 (PH7024, PH7026);
  • Analyse quantitative and qualitative data on patterns and trends in health and health behaviour, and reach appropriate conclusions (PH7024, PH7025);
  • Apply, with insight, theoretical perspectives to contemporary public health problems in both military and civilian contexts (PH7024).

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

  • Monitor and assess population health needs using qualitative and quantitative data (PH7025);
  • Generate and use evidence in the appraisal of services, interventions and approaches to improving public health and well-being (PH7025, PH7026);
  • Analyse, present and report on qualitative and quantitative public health data, including specific populations at risk (PH7025).

On completion of the programme:

  • Students will have undertaken assessments that require them to communicate effectively both orally and in writing (All modules).
  • One of the core modules directly requires engagement with quantitative data (PH7025)
  • Students are exposed to the most up-to-date developments in information technology, and are required to demonstrate their information literacy and technology skills through on-line communication and assessed work (All modules).
  • Group work and discussion encourage students to contribute their own professional knowledge and experience, and to reflect on their learning, while presentation-based assessments facilitate development of the clear and concise communication skills expected within a military context (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 comprises three 20 credit modules, for a total of 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 process of revalidation.

Students completing the three core modules indicated below can exit with a Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Public Health. The University offers other cognate programmes (at Postgraduate Diploma, Masters and Doctoral level) which students may wish to proceed onto. Credits gained as part of the Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Public Health may be used to demonstrate accredited prior learning (APL) when applying for another award, either at the University of Chester or elsewhere.

Structure of the postgraduate certificate (60 credits)

  • PH7024 Applied Public Health in a Military Context.
  • PH7025 Epidemiology for Military Settings.
  • PH7026 Communicable Diseases.

The key features of the programme are:

  • The programme is aimed at the developing military and civilian public health workforce, and reflects the increasing national and international humanitarian aid agenda.
  • It is student centred, so the programme will both anticipate and respond to students' learning needs.
  • The programme will be cognisant of the students' professional workplace, whether deployed or within a UK base, 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, and further supported by an experienced MSO mentor.
  • This programme is cognisant with the University's and British Army’s underpinning pastoral and people-centred values, and sees the development of individuals as fundamental to the development of effective professionals and reflective practitioners focused on the public health agenda.  

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
PH7024 7 Applied Public Health in a Military Context 20 Comp
PH7025 7 Epidemiology for Military Settings 20 Comp
PH7026 7 Communicable Disease 20 Comp

60 credits at level 7 for a Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Public Health.

The programme has been designed to be attractive not only to British Army Medical Support Officer trainees, but to students (both military and civilian) from a wide range of academic, professional and disciplinary backgrounds.  To that end, although the programme will recruit students primarily from tri-service armed forces, admission is not restricted solely to military personnel.  It is likely that some potential students will not have an academic background in public health; however, by virtue of their MSO and army officer status they will be working in public health related, social or community contexts, both during humanitarian aid deployments and when considering the health and wellbeing of the troops (and their families) under their command.

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 gain entry through a widened entry gate following interview.  Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) may also be available for candidates with appropriate previous study in relevant fields.  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 Certificate in Applied 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 defines the Postgraduate level of study, and by the Quality Assurance Agency's (QAA) Framework of Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ). 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

  • Reflective practice with effective and concise communication of ideas, facts and insights (PH7024)
  • Surveillance and assessment of the population's health and well-being (PH7025 & PH7026)
  • Assessing evidence of effectiveness of interventions, programmes and services to improve population health and well-being (PH7025 & PH7026)
  • Policy and strategy development and implementation to improve population health and well-being (PH7024)
  • Leadership and collaborative working to improve population health and well-being (PH7024 & PH7026)

Defined competences and knowledge areas

  • Health improvement (PH7024)
  • Health protection (PH7026)
  • Public health intelligence (PH7025)
  • Academic public health (PH7024, PH7025)
  • Health and social care quality (PH7024)

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.  It can be seen that in both structure and content the programme adheres to the FHEQ for Level 7 qualifications.  The programme is delivered by tutors who are active researchers or practitioners in the broad field of public health, and are past or presently serving members of the armed forces who will actively integrate their experience into their teaching.  Through this approach, students are exposed to contextually relevant complex problems and issues, and are encouraged to explore them systematically, reflecting on theory and empirical evidence to reach conclusions.

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, MSO mentor, and by the University of Chester's Learning and Information Services (LIS) department as appropriate.

Methods of learning and teaching will include:

  • Tutorials.
  • Seminars, presentations and debates.
  • Scenario-based learning sessions.
  • Reflection (via online/app-based portfolio).
  • 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 examinations/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 guidelines, that is, between 4000 and 5500 words, or their equivalent.  In line with the overall rationale of the programme, several approaches to assessment are used to reflect the demands of the modules.  There are opportunities for students to contextualise their assignments in terms of their professional settings, whether deployed overseas on exercise or within their UK firm base role.  Module assessment is both formative and summative, and both types are designed to provide opportunities for the integration of theory and practice.

The selected assessment strategies are specifically designed to develop transferable skills valuable to the students' role within military or civilian contexts, and to enable career progression.  The range of assessments provides the opportunity for students to apply critical thinking and problem solving, and to present strategic intention in a clear concise and timely manner.  The focus on promoting reflective academic writing will facilitate students to produce conference papers and presentations of a publishable standard. 

Summative assessment includes the submission of reflective assignments via an e-portfolio, poster and oral presentations, and oral examinations.  Formative assessment includes self, peer and tutor assessment of seminar/workshop presentations and tasks, along with review of the student’s e-portfolio. 

Reassessment will be of failed components, and may take the same form as original assessment or equivalent.

The programme is designed to enhance the public health skills and knowledge of a healthcare student, and within the military context of the Medical Support Officer, the award links directly into the requirements for career progression.

Key skills for a military officer and healthcare practitioner such as reflective practice and data analysis are firmly embedded throughout the programme.  Through the use of the e-portfolio and blended learning strategies, information technology skills are assured and enhanced; whilst personal reflection on a student’s own learning needs develops self-awareness and action planning abilities.  Furthermore, deeper understanding of public health and associated individual lifestyle choices contribute to greater capacity to facilitate health and wellbeing for a range of populations at risk across a broad range of situations and contexts.

  • The course takes an inter-professional stance, not seeking to be exclusively military, medical or nurse-orientated, although it is recognised that the Medical Support Officer 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 and Information Services department. The programme will also fully conform to the British Army's policies on disability support.
  • 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 the Army Medical Directorate chain of command and students informing the timetabling whenever possible.

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