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Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

Principles of Health Protection

Next Course - Autumn 2024 - dates to be announced

Book now!

The arrival of the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic strain of the Coronavirus has highlighted the importance of emergency preparedness, forward planning, and robust outbreak management systems and infrastructure. The importance of the normally, not in the news, Communicable Disease Control expertise and collaborative working with Public Health and other interrelated agencies has come to the forefront. Prevention is the best way forward and this is what we should excel at.

Student in laboratory

Coronavirus disease

Internationally, our course will demonstrate the importance of infectious disease epidemiology, the planning to prevent outbreaks and horizon scanning for rising threats, which, if they were to occur, would devastate a country and its people. Preparedness planning pays and being knowledgeable about the communicable and non communicable incidents and outbreaks will serve leaders in this domain well.

About the course

The course will give participants a grounding in the core principles of health protection and is a useful building block towards achieving competency in health protection on call. The content will cover all the Faculty of Public Health competencies, including part of the syllabus for the DFPH (Diplomate exam) and will serve as a refresher and a primer for new practitioners (Consultant to Health Protection Practitioners).

Course Lead

Dr Bharat Pankhania, Senior Clinical Lecturer, University of Exeter Medical School with contributions from expert guest speakers.

Virtual delivery dates 

Bookings now open for our Autumn Course!  28th Sept, 3rd, 5th, 10th, 12th, 17th and 19th October 2023, 12:30 - 16:30

Book now!

Delivery Format

This seven day course will be delivered virtually on 28th Sept, 3rd, 5th, 10th, 12th, 17th and 19th October 2023

The sessions will use a combination of participatory methodologies including presentations, case studies, table top exercises, group discussions and problem-based learning with ample opportunities for discussion, debate and blue sky thinking.

The course will include approximately 28 taught hours plus self-directed study. We advise you to make every effort to join all sessions to gain the most out of the course. If you are unable to attend any of the sessions, do not worry, the sessions will be recorded and will be made available.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course the learner will be expected to be able to:

  • Understand the underlying principles of Health Protection and Communicable Disease Control as well as planning for and responding to emerging threats, emerging infections and environmental incidents
  • Understand the art and craft of outbreak control and management and its application in a public health setting
  • Become conversant with the fundamentals of dynamic surveillance and timely interventions
  • Understand the principles of immunisation and instituting immunisation programmes
  • Use worked examples of collaborative working and communication skills
  • Understand the importance of collaboration with partners and communicating risks
  • Become part of a community of practitioners from a range of sectors

View programme overview

Delegate Rate

For seven virtual contact days in addition to recorded lectures, resources and teaching materials, a delegate rate of £1,100 - with an EARLY BIRD RATE of £990 until July 31st 2023!

Feedback and Certificates

We will ask you to complete a polling survey at the end of each day. Your feedback will allow us to make adjustments for the next delivery session.

At the end of the course, we will send you a certificate highlighting the learning outcomes with a section where you can complete your own CPD Reflection of the course, which you can use in a future professional development review

Useful for those already working in or considering working in public health, health protection, infection control, environmental health, infections with an animal and human interface, and primary care.

Programme for Principles of Health Protection CPD Course

This programme may be subject to minor alterations.



Day 1

Principles of Surveillance & Operational Outbreak Management 

Concepts and data collection are required for timely actions. We will explore sources of timely data for a robust surveillance system, which then informs best use of resources for appropriate control measures. Early interventions save lives and cost less. Delays in interventions cost lives and it becomes difficult if not impossible to regain control. We will use the examples of the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic to illustrate this important point.

The importance of a multi-agency local approach to control outbreaks cannot be underestimated. An outbreak is never a situation which we can manage in isolation, we will explore the multi-dimensional impact of a small, medium, and large outbreak as well as a pandemic and illustrate the actions required for each level. These incidents may appear to need a clinical only intervention, when interventions from behavioural scientists, other sectors such as industry, education, transport can all come together to provide better outcomes. A joint operations template is required to manage incidents.

Day 2

Pandemics & the Art and Craft of Outbreak Planning

Outbreaks are our bread and butter; training and experience make for better outcomes, management and protects the population. Whilst we cannot create outbreaks to order, we will create a simulated, realistic outbreak with engagement from all key sectors. This will include bringing together subject matter experts, the co-ordination of the operation, advice and informing key stakeholders and a simulated press briefing too. The daily tools of surveillance, epidemiology, testing, sampling, hypothesis generating, investigative case studies, report writing will all be brought into play.

This exercise will be an indicator of how we could have better managed the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic locally, nationally and internationally.

Day 3 

Principles and Practices of Vaccines and Immunisation: TB, Malaria, Dengue 

Vaccines have and continue to save lives. Without vaccines 50% of us would not be here. The rapid advancement in developing vaccines is an example of how fast progress is possible in adversarial times. Working with subject matter experts in virology, immunology and vaccinology has enabled us to develop tried and trusted vaccines as well as try new platforms. These new platforms have the potential to alter preventative medicine interventions. Imagine a vaccine to prevent chronic diseases - this may soon become possible.

We will address the fantastic developments in the field of vaccines and what else can also be achieved via the vaccines route, especially as antibiotics may be becoming ineffective.


Day 4

Emerging Threats, Emerging Infections and TB

The interface between vectors and infections merits a lot of attention. With warming temperatures, we can expect to see infections that were once rare or did not exist in the colder climate countries. In addition, we can expect infections in both the human population as well as farm livestock and the introduction of infections into the wild animal population as well. There are also consequences for agriculture, forests, plant, and animal species. This horizon scanning is important: we must plan, prepare, and put in timely control measures. 


Day 5

Emergency Preparedness and Planning

Prior planning saves lives. Failure to plan implies planning for a failure (Margaret Chan former WHO Director). Just as in controlling an outbreak, there is the importance of test, test, and test (WHO Director General 20202). There is also a mantra of plan, plan, and plan. Review plan and repeat. A fine example of different planning approaches is the comparison of how the South Korean and neighbouring Far Eastern countries have been managing the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic compared to the USA and UK. Multi-agency planning, resilience forums and chains of accountability and command are all important skills and systems to have for when any incident arises.

Day 6

Global Health Day

Climate change is a public health emergency. We are close to reaching tipping point and this day will address the important and urgent actions that are needed globally to hopefully delay the tipping point and, in the best scenario, avoid the consequences of global warming and climate change.

We will address the principles of climate change and global warming and its consequences for planet earth as well as addressing quick win interventions and long-term strategy.


Day 7                        Details to be confirmed  


Whether you study on-campus, virtually, or via a blended learning programme, you'll be supported by the University of Exeter's world-class faculty with wide-ranging opportunities to develop interdisciplinary and vocational skills. Find out more


Contact us

If you have any other enquiries about the course, please email us.

Blog: Empowering health protection practitioners to deliver excellence

Find out more about this course in this blog post