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Study information

Programme Specification for the 2023/4 academic year

PGDip Public Health (Online)

1. Programme Details

Programme namePGDip Public Health (Online) Programme codePND2EMSEMS01
Study mode(s)Distance Learning
Academic year2023/4
Campus(es)St Luke's (Exeter)
NQF Level of the Final Award7 (Masters)

2. Description of the Programme

With the stated aim of equipping you with the competencies and capabilities to assess, analyse and take action against disease, prolong life and promote health, the programme addresses the broad issues that contribute to the health and well-being of individuals, families, communities, populations, and societies. Offered in collaboration with the University of Exeter Business School, our Master of Public Health (MPH) programme aims to deliver high quality, integrated, multi-disciplinary learning for leadership and problem-solving across the broad field of public health. Underpinned by the themes of complexity, leadership and decision-making, this MPH couples reflective learning and practice with research-led teaching from world-leading academics to balance transdisciplinary learning about public health with ‘real-life’ skills and tools. Our focus on systems leadership includes compassionate and inclusive leadership skills as well as the practice of working in partnership and across organisational boundaries. The programme offers a collective learning environment in which professionals of all disciplines in healthcare study together to develop public health competencies. The programme is both for students who want to enter the field of public health and for those already working as health professionals who want to progress their careers.

This unique programme builds on contributions from our highly regarded programmes in environment and human health and healthcare leadership and management and internationally renowned Business school. Through developing the skills to promote the health of populations by influencing lifestyle and socio-economic, physical and cultural environment and exploring the complex inter-relationship between health and the environment, you will develop the research-facing skills needed by contemporary leaders in public health. Informed by the increasing importance of a systems approach to health and social care, the programme examines distributive leadership and the need to develop compassionate and inclusive leadership attributes, making change through the use of quality improvement methodologies and the importance of collaboration and boundary spanning. In addition, you can expect to:

  • Discover the potential to harness a predictive, preventive, personalized, participative approach and its potential impact on the use of resource and potential to improve health and wellbeing.
  • Learn to assess the health profile of a population group anywhere in the world, particularly in the context of an ageing society and increased global urbanisation.
  • Derive solutions to address health inequalities by exploring the interplay between genetic predisposition, environmental context, and lifestyle choices.

Students come from a variety of backgrounds and so the programme has been designed to give them the ability to enact meaningful change in any setting.

The programme suits graduates who are planning or already undertaking a career within public health, health promotion, environmental health and protection, occupational health, workplace wellbeing or social enterprise. The programme has been developed with reference to the training requirements of the UK Faculty of Public Health, the credentialing requirements of CPH and meets the common core requirements of the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) to maximise your future employability in the discipline of environment and human health sciences.

Depending on the specific modules taken, students may receive the following award:

•           Master of Public Health (Pandemics)

This specialism is only available at Masters level, and not for PGDip or PGCert interim awards.

Your eligibility for the particular award will be confirmed by the final Assessment Progression and Awarding Committee (APAC) on the basis of the modules that have been completed. In order to graduate with a particular named award in parentheses, you will need to select the appropriate specified option modules detailed below, and notify the programme support team accordingly. Otherwise the award name will be Master of Public Health.

3. Educational Aims of the Programme

The educational aims of the MPH are to:

1. Provide you with a safe ‘practitioner-researcher’ led environment of multi-disciplinary learning for you to share your ideas, perspectives and current experiences in response to realistic scenarios.

2. Challenge you to consider offering solutions alone, and in collaboration, which address complex health issues from the perspective of the patient, their carer, a healthcare provider, a commissioner, employer or organisational collaborator in a related sector.

3. Support your development as a Public Health leader through phased engagement with both fundamental and more advanced concepts, in the context of the delivery of healthcare at team and system levels to understand organisational complexity and making change at large scale.

4. Enable you to analyse, synthesise, evaluate and reflect on the translation of research-based evidence in complex public health systems.

5. Provide opportunities for you refine written and verbal communication skills through the examination of theory and its translation into practice.

The programme consists of 6 mandatory modules (each 15 Masters level credits) with an additional 15 credit optional module (known as a masterclass) and a 30 credit project. The programme is delivered online via taught sessions, bespoke tutorials, and practical exercises, supported by on-line resources accessed via the University of Exeter’s electronic learning environment (ELE). Carefully selected tutors and guest lecturers will join you throughout the programme

4. Programme Structure

5. Programme Modules

Our PGT programmes are designed as standalone courses but the College also aims to provide flexibility where possible. We recognise that you may sometimes wish to take a module from elsewhere in the College, or the wider University, to fit in with their specific research or professional interests. A taught Masters degree is made up of 180 credits, usually 120 credits of taught modules and 60 credits of dissertation. Normally at least 90 credits of taught modules (but an absolute minimum of 60 credits), plus the dissertation, will need be taken from within the named award in order to graduate with that award. That means that 30 credits could be made up from one or more appropriate modules from another Masters level programme(s) in place of your scheduled ones, depending on the module prerequisites, the contact days of the modules, and your funding source. There may be an additional fee associated with certain postgraduate modules. It is also important to note that the timing of your new module’s contact days and assessments might conflict with your existing programme of studies. If after considering these factors you would like to explore this option further, please discuss this with the MSc’s Programme Director. The CMH PGT Support team can then advise about the application process, which would then go for approval from the Programme Director of your current programme and the Module Lead and Programme Director of the programme(s) in which your new module(s) sits.

The online Master of Public Health is designed to be completed over 24 months but can also be completed over 18 months. It is a National Qualification Framework (NQF) level 7 award (as confirmed against the FHEQ). Programmes are divided into units of study called ‘modules’ which are assigned a number of ‘credits’. The credit rating of a module is proportional to the total workload, with 1 credit being nominally equivalent to 10 hours of work.

The MSc requires 180 credits, of which 160 are taught modules and 30 is a research project.

Programme award:
The reference to online study is not included in the programme award, and is used here only to distinguish the programme from its on-campus counterpart.

Interim Awards:

The one-year online Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) in Public Health is also offered, consisting of 60 credits of taught modules.

The two-year online Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) in Public Health is also offered, consisting of 120 credits of taught modules.


For specialism Master of Public Health (Pandemics), specific option modules to be taken are specified below.

Stage 1

120 Credits 2 years

(a) It is expected you will commence these modules in your first calendar year of study
(b) It is expected you will commence these modules in your second calendar year of study

Compulsory Modules

CodeModule Credits Non-condonable?
HPDM118Z Structuring and Solving Public Health Problems (a)15No
HPDM119Z Analytics and Evidence based Public Health (a)30No
HPDM120Z Leadership, Strategy and Change (a)30No

Optional Modules

All students must take the above compulsory modules.

*Plus TWO of HPDM121Z, HPDM122Z or HPDM123Z.

**Plus ONE 15 credit ‘Masterclass’ module from HPDM124Z, HPDM127Z or HPDM136Z

CodeModule Credits Non-condonable?
HPDM121Z Epidemiology 15No
HPDM122Z Planetary Health (a)15No
HPDM123Z Behaviour Change (b)15No
HPDM124Z Health Protection (b)15No
HPDM127Z Principles of Primary Care (a)15No
HPDM136Z Evidence to Decision: Health Technology Assessment, Health Policy and Resource Allocation (b)15No

6. Programme Outcomes Linked to Teaching, Learning and Assessment Methods

Intended Learning Outcomes
A: Specialised Subject Skills and Knowledge

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
On successfully completing this programme you will be able to:
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) will be...
...accommodated and facilitated by the following learning and teaching activities (in/out of class):...and evidenced by the following assessment methods:

1. Draw on a breadth of theoretical, conceptual and practical knowledge in Public Health which will inform your practice in your population setting.
2. Deploy your theoretical, conceptual and practical knowledge in Public Health to operate more effectively in your healthcare system.
3. Employ attitudes and behaviours that encourage compassionate, inclusive and effective and responsible Public Health leadership at all levels.
4. Propose and implement feasible evidence-based practice through the sound use of improvement methodologies.
5. Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of institutional learning in Public Health as a driver for safety and quality within your system of health and care.

Lectures, seminars, masterclasses, Group discussions, practical exercises, simulated case-studies and engagement with real-world scenarios, Web-based learning, resource gathering, and in-depth reading. Preparation and writing of assignment(s).

1. Case-based discussion – ILO 1-5

2. Small group projects – ILO 1-5

3. Student presentations – ILO 1,2,3,4

4. Reflective essay – ILO 1-4

Intended Learning Outcomes
B: Academic Discipline Core Skills and Knowledge

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
On successfully completing this programme you will be able to:
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) will be...
...accommodated and facilitated by the following learning and teaching activities (in/out of class):...and evidenced by the following assessment methods:

1. Develop a deep understanding of the contemporary challenges in Public Health and an evidence-based approach to dealing with them.
2. Contribute to evidence-led Public Health with the aim of developing safe, efficient, effective and sustainable systems of health and care.
3. Develop reflective practice skills that facilitate collaborative working with multiple diverse stakeholders with whom you aim to create high quality health and care systems in partnership.
4. Develop an evidence-based approach to improvement and leadership in Public Health practice.

Workshops, masterclasses, specialist tutorials; small group discussions and project work; formative presentations; Peer-mentoring and coaching; preparation and writing of assignment(s).

1. Case-based discussion – ILO 3,4,5,6

2. Small group project – ILO 4,6

3. Student presentations – ILO 3,4,5,6 

Intended Learning Outcomes
C: Personal/Transferable/Employment Skills and Knowledge

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
On successfully completing this programme you will be able to:
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) will be...
...accommodated and facilitated by the following learning and teaching activities (in/out of class):...and evidenced by the following assessment methods:

1. Communicate effectively the purpose, outcomes and implications of leadership and resource and people management in Public Health through multiple channels, to peers, specialists and lay audiences.
2. Demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling, problem solving and acting autonomously, in planning and implementing improvements in Public Health.
3. Apply initiative and take responsibility as a leader and follower to develop high quality care individually and in partnership.
4. Continue to learn independently and to develop professionally as evidenced by the inclusion of leadership and management in a professional development plan for the purposes of appraisal and career progression.

Workshops, masterclasses, specialist tutorials; small group discussions and project work; formative presentations; Peer-mentoring and coaching; preparation and writing of assignment(s).

1. Formative presentations, case-based discussion, simulated scenarios (role play) throughout the programme ILO 9-12

2. Small group projects – ILO 9-12

3. Student presentations – ILO 9-12

4. Reflective essays – ILO 9-12

7. Programme Regulations


8. College Support for Students and Students' Learning

Content for the programme will be made available online via our dedicated Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) to allow maximum flexibility in when you study to fit around your other commitments. We will provide a range of rich online materials, a variety of learning activities and encourage you to participate in learning communities. Each module will set out the key expectations and requirements at the start of teaching and you will receive timely feedback on your progress throughout the duration.

Personal and Academic tutoring: It is University policy that all Colleges should have in place a system of academic and personal tutors. The role of academic tutors is to support you on individual modules; the role of personal tutors is to provide you with advice and support for the duration of the programme and extends to providing you with details of how to obtain support and guidance on personal difficulties such as accommodation, financial difficulties and sickness. You can also make an appointment to see individual teaching staff.

Student/Staff Liaison Committee enables students & staff to jointly participate in the management and review of the teaching and learning provision.

9. University Support for Students and Students' Learning

10. Admissions Criteria

All applications are considered individually on merit. The University is committed to an equal opportunities policy with respect to gender, age, race, sexual orientation and/or disability when dealing with applications. It is also committed to widening access to higher education to students from a diverse range of backgrounds and experience.

Postgraduate applicants must satisfy the Postgraduate Admissions Policy of the University of Exeter.

Specific requirements required to enrol on this programme are available at the Postgraduate Study Site webpage.

11. Regulation of Assessment and Academic Standards

12. Indicators of Quality and Standards

The programme is not subject to accreditation and/ or review by professional and statutory regulatory bodies (PSRBs).

13. Methods for Evaluating and Improving Quality and Standards

14. Awarding Institution

University of Exeter

15. Lead College / Teaching Institution

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

16. Partner College / Institution

Partner College(s)

Not applicable to this programme

Partner Institution


17. Programme Accredited / Validated by


18. Final Award

PGDip Public Health (Online)

19. UCAS Code


20. NQF Level of Final Award

7 (Masters)

21. Credit

CATS credits


ECTS credits

22. QAA Subject Benchmarking Group

23. Dates

Origin Date


Date of last revision