MSc Global Health (online)

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Course description

Our part-time online MSc Global Health course has been developed in collaboration with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Aimed at both those new to the humanitarian sector and professionals who want to update their skills, our course offers a practical means of study and an inclusive approach which mirrors the reality of interventions within a humanitarian context.

You will explore issues related to the worldwide improvement of health, the reduction of disparities, and protection against global threats that disregard national borders.

The course is unique in bringing together the study of emergency medicine, disaster management, community health, anthropology and sociology of health and illness in an online format.

You will have access to leading multidisciplinary academics and practitioners. For example, we have a close working relationship with the charity UK-Med, which aims to improve the training and accountability of medical teams to sudden onset disasters and complex emergencies.


After Years 1 and 2, you should be able to show a critical understanding of:

  • key issues and debates related to the practices of global health programming. You will show familiarity with different theoretical approaches, practical problems and an appreciation of the diversity of policies at international and national levels;
  • the range of social science topics which influence global health (including political, historical, anthropological understandings). You will become familiar with the methodological and normative underpinnings of these disciplines;
  • the analytical and policy literature concerning the related issues of global health, including economics, governance structures and institutions, the role and perspectives of the state, multilateral and bilateral agencies, international and domestic NGOs and other civil institutions;
  • an understanding of international, national and local approaches to global health, including an awareness of the problems and critiques associated with 'bottom up' approaches;
  • the range of research methodologies and methods associated with global health research;
  • the development of a range of academic and professional/transferrable skills through both independent and group-based work.

After Year 3, you should also be able to:

  • demonstrate your capacity for self-managed learning through planning and conducting research on a topic related to your studies;
  • develop your knowledge of a relevant body of literature, understanding of relevant theoretical perspectives and powers of critical reasoning;
  • seek new research findings which, in some cases, add to the existing body of knowledge on a particular subject area;
  • engage in a limited programme of primary data collection or to reinterpret material already available in the public domain;
  • develop knowledge of, and competence in, an appropriate range of research methods, including the development of a study hypothesis, an appreciation of the research methodology and analytical techniques to be utilised, the undertaking of a specific research study, the synthesis and evaluation of findings, and a clear statement of conclusions and recommendations;
  • develop writing, presentation and bibliographic skills, which involves skills in the planning and management of a long document;
  • develop your experience of developing and managing a specific programme of work.

Special features

Online course delivery

You will be able to engage fully with the course content and other students via lectures, discussion boards, group work, online chat, question and answer sessions with the tutor, and peer-to-peer feedback and assessment.

PGCert, PGDip and MSc awards

You can exit the course with a PGCert award after Year 1, a PGDip after Year 2, or an MSc after Year 3.

IFRC collaboration

This course has been created in collaboration with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies for people working in the humanitarian sector or for those wishing to enter this field.

Course unit details

You will study four course units in each of Years 1 and 2. Each of the four units comprises eight weeks of teaching followed by one week of assessment.

Year 3 comprises the dissertation for the MSc award.

Exit awards

You will receive 60 credits for the successful completion of each year of the course, totalling 180 credits for the MSc award.

It is possible to exit the course earlier than this with 60 credits for a PGCert award or 120 credits for a PGDip.

All of the credits you earn will be transferable to other academic institutions.

Year 1 course units (15 credits each)

Community Approaches to Health: Examine issues of psycho-social care, behaviour change, ageing, micro-insurance, advocacy, holistic health, HIV, nutrition, breastfeeding, hygiene promotion and immunisation.

Ethics, Human Rights and Health: Consider the role of gender, health inequalities, dignity, legal frameworks, rights based approaches to health, reproductive rights, Millennium development goals 4, 5, and 6, child rights, and accessing illegal drug users and commercial sex workers.

Health Systems and Markets: Look at the social determinants of health, the work of civil society organisations, the interfaces between states and economies, organisational change, health financing, urban health, rural access, food security, agriculture, and eradication programming.

Risk, Vulnerability and Resilience: An introduction to public and global health, risk assessments and management, epidemiology, population ageing, the determinants of child survival, and pandemics.

Year 2 course units (15 credits each)

Diseases and Trauma in Developing Countries: Introduces students to health systems and health infrastructure globally, with particular focus on health system performance and development of a workforce in developing countries. The sessions will then explore disease and trauma - with focus on both communicable and non-communicable disease and the burden that exists from these globally. By the end of the module, students will have understood the interaction between, and impact of, systems, disease and trauma in managing and improving health care globally.

Management and Leadership in Humanitarianism: The overall aim of this units is for students to learn and critically examine the evolution, functions, systems and challenges faced in the humanitarian sector, not just today but in the foreseeable future. Introducing a number of trends, tools, and techniques, this module focuses on the knowledge needed to formulate and manage programs in contexts that are rapidly evolving.

Disaster and Crisis Management: This unit will enable students to understand current multi-disciplinary theory concerning disaster management for both natural and man-made events. Practical risk-based management tools common in medicine, business & disaster planning will be taught along with their application to risk assessments & policy analysis.

Research Methods in Global Health: An introduction to the theory and practice of research methods in general, as well as to how they can be applied to global health research. The course aims to provide students with an understanding of the underlying principles, strengths and weaknesses, practical application and dissemination of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies in global health.

Year 3 course unit (60 credits)Dissertation: All students will be allocated a dissertation supervisor who will support you throughout the year. Formal dissertation supervision sessions will be arranged, which may be conducted via video conference, phone or email, depending upon your personal preference and the facilities available to you.

All assessment will take place online. You will submit your dissertation at the end of the academic year. These will be assessed and you will be informed of the outcome.

The supervision process will be achieved through:

  • a series of 'soft deadlines' for you to meet throughout the year to help structure your progress;
  • scheduled learning objectives and activities to coincide with deadlines to ensure that you are supported and get the most out of these deadlines;
  • regular contact with a dissertation supervisor with recommendations for scheduling meetings and with dedicated proforma to be completed to help frame conversation.

Fee information

The course fees are £2,100 (pounds sterling) per participant, per phase.

The overall course fees for the full MSc in Global Health (all three phases) are £6,300 (pounds sterling) per participant.

HCRI honours its partnership with the IFRC by ensuring course fees are the same for UK and international students.

The first instalment of the fees is due once you have been accepted on the course. The remainder of the fees can be paid in a further two instalments over the course of the year. This is repeated for each phase.

How to register

Apply here: