The University of Southampton
MedicinePostgraduate study

MSc Public Health

Globally health is changing rapidly and in many countries millions of people are dying from preventable diseases. The World Health Organization calculates that two thirds of an estimated annual 56 million deaths are due to non-communicable diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases.

Obesity is a key determinant of these diseases and yet, at the other extreme, over 7.5 million preschool children die each year from malnutrition. Cardiovascular diseases alone represented 30 per cent of global deaths in 2012. About three quarters of the global NCD deaths occur in low-and middle-income countries, and infectious diseases including AIDS/HIV and other immunisable diseases, still affect many people in developing and developed countries alike.

Supporting people to stay well is the essence of public health. Practitioners advise and develop programmes to make a difference in areas such as nutrition, immunisation, tobacco and alcohol, drug addiction recovery, sexual health, pregnancy and children’s health. They are also concerned with issues such as health inequality, health care service equity, population programmes and disease surveillance.

What does our MSc provide?

We offer a challenging and rewarding masters programme in all aspects of public health with optional pathways specialising in nutrition, intelligence (working with information) and global health. Our modules cover a broad range of subjects taught by expert academic staff with a focus on professional practice. They will equip you for a successful career in the public or private sector, or a role as an academic researcher.

Who should study?

Our programme will suit graduates or experienced health professionals who want to develop their knowledge of public health or learn new skills.

Introducing your course

Our MSc Public Health degree will prepare you for a challenging rewarding career to improve the health of individuals and communities. You will develop essential skills in epidemiology, quantitative and qualitative research methods, medical statistics, health improvement and in devising effective public health programmes. This masters degree course offers pathways in intelligence, global health and nutrition to equip you for professional practice in these specialisms.

H1N1 flu virus


Public health professionals apply core competences from epidemiology and social sciences to develop, implement and evaluate evidence-based programmes to improve health and wellbeing. They are also concerned with equity, quality, effectiveness, cost effectiveness and accessibility of health care and will become involved in policy and strategy development, particularly where this impacts on community health and wellbeing.

Comprehensive programme

Our comprehensive MSc provides a broad public health learning experience and supports the development of relevant expertise. We offer three pathways in nutrition, intelligence and global health with specialist modules to equip you for a career in these specialisms.

We will provide you with thorough training and support to develop essential skills in epidemiology, and quantitative and qualitative competencies, which you will need to analyse healthcare data and develop your own campaigns.

During the programme you will have the opportunity to debate contemporary issues with leading public health experts. You will also meet international researchers in lifecourse epidemiology, geographical aspects of health, health inequalities, maternal and child health and nutrition.

You will learn with and from other students, sharing your experiences from a range of health systems around the world.

Professional skills

Our programme aims to develop your intellectual and practical skills in the core areas of public health to maximise your opportunities for employment as a practitioner or researcher. It will:

  • Provide opportunities for you to develop mastery in public health through advancing your analytical skills, communication skills and knowledge.
  • Prepare you to lead teams and individuals, build healthy alliances, develop capacity and capability and work in partnership to improve health and wellbeing.
  • Enable you to promote the health of populations by influencing the lifestyles of populations, communities and individuals.
  • Enable you to prevent ill-health through risk assessment and the promotion and implementation of evidence-based interventions.
  • Enable you to use or evaluate research using sound methodological principles.
  • Provide you with relevant tools, skills and understanding of concepts and terms, which will support effective public health practice.

We support the careers of aspiring public health researchers and actively encourage applications for further study at PhD level.

This programme is offered by the Faculty of Medicine and as such you will receive most of your teaching in the Faculty of Medicine located in Southampton General Hospital.

View the MSc programme specification document for this course.

View the programme specification document for the PG Certificate in Public Health

View the programme specification document for the PG Diploma in Public Health


To Apply

To apply please click on the Apply Now button below. Please note this programme is offered by the Faculty of Medicine, please choose the Faculty of Medicine in the drop down menu on the application form.

Please see the Entry requirements tab above for further information on the application process.

Applications must be received no later than four weeks before the start of the module/programme. In addition, you must have supplied all of the required supporting documentation two weeks prior to starting your module/programme.


The MSc Public Health is accredited by the International Union for Health Promotion and Education and the MSc Public Health pathway in nutrition is accredited by the Association for Nutrition.

Programme Structure

To graduate with an MSc Public Health you must achieve 60 European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) through taught modules and 30 ECTS through a dissertation.

Core skills and optional modules

You will study four core modules covering all the essential professional skills you will need in your career, and optional modules to reflect your own interests. Other modules in leadership, human geography, demography, social science and global health may also be taken, timetabling permitting.

Each module has its own defined learning outcomes and assessments and the modules are linked together to form a coherent programme of learning. You will also write a dissertation of 6,500 words which can take the form of a technical report or a paper for an academic journal.

The induction week will provide you with a broad understanding of public health, its disciplines and history. Topical issues will be presented by keynote speakers. The two core modules in Epidemiology and Medical statistics and qualitative methods for public health will enable you to develop the knowledge and skills to evaluate and interpret public health research. Enabling change for health improvement and Development and implementation of policies and strategies will support the advancement of knowledge and skills in a range of areas including leadership, programme planning, working with individuals and communities, and evaluation.


The award at the end of the programme of study will be the degree of Master of Science (MSc) Public Health. The programme also accommodates a ‘step on step off’ structure allowing you to start the MSc programme and complete one of two subsidiary awards; a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health Studies or a Postgraduate Certificate in the Principles of Public Health. All awards are classified as pass, merit or distinction.

Stand-alone modules

The flexible nature of this programme enables you to take modules on a stand-alone basis, should you wish.

Key Facts

  • The MSc Public Health is a comprehensive programme of study which will give students all the knowledge and skills required for a successful career in this rewarding area of practice.
  • Our programme has been informed by research surrounding the United Nations Millennium goals in global health and will equip graduates to develop professional and transferable competences in evidence-based public health.
  • Our MSc Public Health is accredited by the International Union for Health Promotion and Education and our MSc Public Health pathway in nutrition is accredited by the Association for Nutrition. 
  • Optional pathways are offered in nutrition, intelligence and global health. Career opportunities as a Public Health specialist include those within Public/Government, private sectors, charities, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and the food industry.
  • Our programme draws from specialist expertise in Medicine, Health Geography, Demography and Business and Law at the University of Southampton.
Birds eye view of a group of people
MSc Public Health

Entry Requirements

Typical entry requirements

Selection process

Applicants are expected to have an appropriate second-class honours degree, or an equivalent standard in other qualifications approved by the University, or relevant professional experience in nutrition, dietetics or other biomedical or health sciences.

The programme is also open to undergraduate medical students who wish to intercalate during their medical studies, who must have successfully completed at least three years of their medical degree and achieved 60% or above in all their Year 3 assessments.

English language requirements

Competency in English is essential as the course is taught entirely in the English language. Students who do not have a recent degree from an approved university that has been taught and assessed in English, or who are from a country that is not on the list of those exempt from testing, require a minimum IELTS score of 7.0 overall, with a minimum of 6.0 in listening, reading and speaking, and a minimum of 6.5 in writing. We accept a range of Secure English Language Tests.  Those for whom English is not their first language are asked to indicate the level of English they have attained.

As part of the application process, candidates are asked to write a personal statement to explain their motivation for wishing to take the Masters Programme and to indicate their future career plans.  This should also cover the following points:

  • What is your current work?
  • What is your experience in the field of public health or pathway of interest?
  • Why do you want to study a postgraduate qualification in public health or pathway of interest?
  • How do you intend to use your qualification in the future?

Candidates will also be required to submit two references, their degree transcript and degree certificate.

Application process

Applications should be made online via our website following the link below. Please note that we do not offer a Certificate for the Intelligence pathway.

For more details on applying to Southampton and to apply online, please visit the Application Website. Please note this programme is offered by the Faculty of Medicine, so please choose the Faculty of Medicine in the drop down menu on the application form.

We recommend that international students apply at least 6 weeks before the programme starts to ensure that they are able meet our requirements and are able to apply for a visa in time.  We cannot guarantee that students who apply later than this will be able to begin the programme that year.    

Places are limited to 30-35 students per academic year, we encourage anyone interested in the masters programme to apply as soon as possible.

This page contains specific entry requirements for this course. Find out about equivalent entry requirements and qualifications for your country.


Typical course content

The MSc Public Health programme consists of four core modules that provide the essential knowledge and skills for a professional career in this specialism.

Optional modules allow you to develop your interests in particular areas such as communicable disease control and advanced statistics for epidemiology. Depending on the credit value of the module, you will select two or four modules from a choice of demography, health geography and/or medical/health subjects.

The pathways include extra core modules in relevant subjects with one optional module. The pathway modules are shown in the next tab.

You will also write a dissertation of 6,500 words based on research or a professional project of your choice.

Year 1

Option modules in demography and social sciences will be available depending on timetabling requirements.

Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Core [?]
A core module is a module which must be taken and passed.
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).
Credits are based on the Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS).

Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if s/he takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. More detailed information can be found in the programme handbook (or other appropriate guide or website).

Fees & funding

Tuition fees

Fees for postgraduate taught courses vary across the University. All fees are listed for UK, EU and international full-time and part-time students alphabetically by course name.

View the full list of course fees


Scholarships, bursaries, sponsorships or grants may be available to support you through your course. Funding opportunities available to you are linked to your subject area and/or your country of origin. These can be from the University of Southampton or other sources.

Explore funding opportunities

Costs associated with this course

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this programme typically also have to pay for:

Printing and copyingIn the majority of cases, coursework such as essays, projects and dissertations is likely to be submitted online. However, there are some items where it is not possible to submit online and students will be asked to provide a printed copy. The University printing costs are currently: A4 – 5p per side (black and white) or 25p per side (colour). A3 – 10p per side (black and white) or 50p per side (colour). Details about printing costs for academic posters can be found here:£0.05-0.50

There will also be further costs for the following, not purchasable from the University:

StationeryApproved calculators: Candidates may use calculators in the examination room only as specified by the University and as permitted by the rubric of individual examination papers. The University approved model is Casio FX-570. This may be purchased from any source and no longer needs to carry the University logo.
StationeryYou will be expected to provide your own day-to-day stationery items, e.g. pens, pencils, notebooks, etc. Any specialist stationery items will be specified under the Additional Costs tab of the relevant module profile.
BooksWhere a module specifies core texts these should generally be available on the reserve list in the library. However due to demand, students may prefer to buy their own copies. These can be purchased from any source. Some modules suggest reading texts as optional background reading. The library may hold copies of such texts, or alternatively you may wish to purchase your own copies. Although not essential reading, you may benefit from the additional reading materials for the module.
EquipmentIT: Hardware Across all campuses and most halls of residence approximately 1700 computer workstations are available. Students may wish to purchase their own desktop/laptop/tablet computer to support their studies. This is entirely optional.
Conference expenses Students will have the opportunity to attend a conference in London, which is timetabled in the programme. However, attendance is optional. You would be expected to pay for the costs of any travel associated with the conference if you chose to attend.

In some cases you'll be able to choose modules (which may have different costs associated with that module) which will change the overall cost of a programme to you. Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

Learning & Assessment



Nutrition Pathway

Public Health Nutrition is a branch of nutrition and of international or global public health that promotes good health through appropriate food choice, diet and physical activity to prevent primary (and secondary) nutrition related illness at the population level. It is built on a foundation of biological and social sciences, uses and generates epidemiological evidence and involves the development and implementation of programs to improve and maintain health and well-being.

The aim for those working as public health nutritionists is to enable everyone to achieve greater health and well-being. Our specialist pathway in nutrition prepares students for employment in three main career tracks, namely as practitioners in public health, academic research or public health intelligence.

As a practitioner a public health nutritionist is involved in developing, implementing and evaluating nutrition policies and programmes. All three career tracks generate the evidence base for interventions around food, diet and physical activity to have a positive impact on the health and well-being of communities and populations. Those who work in public health intelligence focus on epidemiology and surveillance of nutrition-related diseases, especially the non-communicable ones such as obesity and its consequences.

More than 500 people have already graduated from this programme. Graduates may work in local government public health or health promotion, or in national government nutrition departments. They may also work for a charity such as BNF, NHF, CASH, the or Children’s Food Trust or Action against Hunger; in the private sector; in the food industry for a large retailer such as Waitrose or manufacturer or trade body or association like FDF or IGD; or for professional bodies, like the Association for Nutrition. Some work for themselves as free-lance or independent consultants, for example, providing technical advice or evaluating projects. Some public health nutritionists are educators working in colleges or universities or trainers providing vocational courses.

The University of Southampton is host to the only Biomedical Research Unit in Nutrition in the country, with a focus on translational research; we have many specialist academics in this field.

The nutrition pathway offers six core modules and an optional module. They cover all the knowledge and skills needed by a professional who aims to work in this specialism. You will also write a dissertation of 6,500 words based on research or a professional project of your choice.


Assessment of Nutritional Status

Development and Implementation of Policies and Strategies


Enabling Change for Health Improvement


Statistical and Qualitative methods for Public Health

Food Systems


Developing Public Health Practice

Nutrition in Harsh Environments

Intelligence Pathway

Our new specialist pathway in intelligence prepares students for employment in the health intelligence sector that covers collecting, analysing, interpreting, synthesising and communicating health intelligence. This information relates to assessing, measuring and describing health and wellbeing, health risks, health needs and health outcomes of different populations. Those working in health intelligence and information can have roles in information management, research and intelligence work for public health observatories or data management in specific programmes and projects.

Geography at Southampton is one of Britain’s leading centres for geographical research, with excellent facilities, a strong publication record, and is home to the GeoData Institute which has provided research and consultancy in geospatial data management, analysis and processing for over 20 years.

The MSc Public Health intelligence pathway is delivered by Geography's Population Health and Wellbeing research group, which specialises in population health and the spatial analysis and modelling of population. The group also specialises in spatio-temporal population modelling and synthetic estimation and has a particular interest in the influence of the social, natural and built environment on population health. Members of the group developed the census output areas and workplace zones for the 2011 census and also co-direct the Economic and Social Research Council's Administrative Data Research Centre for England. They cover all the knowledge and skills needed by a professional who aims to work in this specialism.

Students should choose at least two of the three GIS-based modules, namely 'Core skills in Geographical Information Systems (GIS)', 'GIS for analysis of health', and 'GIS for healthcare management'. Those who do not take 'Core skills in Geographical Information Systems (GIS)' should have equivalent prior qualifications or experience, including in the practical use of GIS software relevant to the programme.

Students take five core modules and have a choice of two modules; one of two from GIS and one of two from Medicine. You will also write a dissertation of 6,500 words based on research or a professional project of your choice.


Core Skills in GIS (15)

Development and Implementation of Policies and Strategies

Dissertation by Research/Professional Project

Enabling Change for Health Improvement


Statistics and Qualitative Research Methods


Advanced Statistical Methods for Epidemiology

Health Policy and Economics

Global Health Pathway

Our new specialist pathway explores the interrelationships between global health and population patterns and processes.

Students on this pathway will be equipped to analyse complex demographic and health data to support social policy-making locally, nationally and internationally. This pathway prepares students for employment as global health analysts in a wide range of organisations and sectors including the health and social care professions, market research, local and national government departments, international organisations and many other agencies. Other graduates may pursue PhD studies in this area.

This pathway is delivered by the Social Statistics & Demography department of the University’s Social Sciences Academic Unit. The department’s Faculty collaborates with colleagues across the University, contributing analytical expertise to address challenging issues including health inequalities, well-being and migration. The work of the Social Science Academic Unit has impact across the world and the Unit is known for the application of cutting-edge quantitative and qualitative methods.

The global pathway offers seven core modules and three optional modules of which students choose one. They cover all the knowledge and skills needed by a professional who aims to work in this specialism. You will also write a dissertation of 6,500 words based on research or a professional project of your choice.


Critical Issues in Global Health: Concepts and Case Studies

Demographic Methods 1

Development and Implementation of Policies and Strategies


Enabling Change for Health Improvement


Methods and Analysis of Global Health Trends and Differentials

Statistics and Qualitative Research Methods


Communicable Disease Control

Health Policy and Economics

Population, Poverty and Policy


Study locations

University Hospital Southampton

University Hospital Southampton

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University of Southampton

Highfield Campus

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