MPH International Development - module descriptions

Autumn semester

Ideas and Practice in International Development  (15 credits)

This unit introduces students to key theoretical debates in international development. It explores how thinking about development has changed over time and why it has changed. The module also encourages students to think about the relationship between development theory and development practice. This is achieved by introducing key topics and issues areas in the field and having students think critically about the ways in which practitioners have approached development issues and defined development problems at various points in time, as well as the theoretical viewpoints that have informed their actions.

Introduction to Research Methods (15 credits)

This module provides students with an introduction to quantitative and qualitative research methods and to the types of skills necessary for the planning, data gathering and dissemination stages of health-related research. Topics covered include: - Research Design; Methods of Data Collection; Approaches to Analysing Data and Writing a Research Proposal. The course provides a foundation for further learning in specific research methods. It is primarily designed for new students beginning Masters courses in the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) and there is an emphasis on research techniques used in public health and health services research (HSR).

Key Issues in Global Public Health (15 credits)

This module introduces contemporary and historical public health discourses, policies and practices, before critically examining their practical and theoretical underpinnings. The module goes on to explore the role and actions of key global health players (e.g. individual governments, United Nations organisations, bilateral and multilateral partnerships, local and international non-governmental organisations and health care industries), and discusses the social determinants of health, considering how they might be tackled for improved health equity and social justice. The module then provides an introduction to major public health challenges in the contemporary world, illustrated through health issues (e.g. malnutrition, maternal and child health, mental health, sexual and reproductive health), socio-political issues (e.g. gender equity, trade, conflict, famine), and environmental issues (e.g. climate change, urbanisation, food security, waste management). Lastly, the module concludes by looking forward, in light of contemporary trends, whilst reflecting on lessons learnt, in order to sustainably improve global health in the future.

Spring semester

 International Development Field class (15 credits)

The core field class to a country in the Global South provides students with practical field skills in a unique environment. Each field class is designed to ensure that students gain experience of applying their learning in a real world context as well as practicing specific research methods and techniques. We offer a range of field class destinations each year. In recent years, field classes have visited Kenya, Tanzania, India and Nepal.

Optional modules (30 credits)

Examples include:

  •  Managing Climate Change
  •  Health Promotion
  •  Public Health Informatics
  •  Communicable Disease Control
  •  Using Policy to Strengthen Health Systems
  •  Cities of Diversity
  •  Planning for Informality

Academic year

 Professional Skills for Development (15 credits)

This module is co-delivered with external development practitioners and other partners to provide students with a core set of skills for employment within the development sector. This innovative module supports students in identifying areas of professional skills development – from technical to language to experiential – and provides a tailored programme of activities to support this.


Dissertation with placement (60 credits)

The placement-based dissertation offers students the opportunity to work within an international development organisation either in the UK or internationally whilst conducting research for their dissertation, thereby gaining valuable experience for their future careers. While placement options change annually according to the needs of host organisations, we have established partnerships with organisations in 25 countries.

Autumn semester

Data, Visualisation and GIS (15 credits)

This module shows students how to deal with spatial data which they will need to use in order to visualise, identify, and understand patterns of social and spatial inequalities. The module covers the major sources of data used to study inequalities and the variety of ways in which they can be displayed to aid understanding and analysis.

Introduction to Quantitative Analysis (15 credits)

This unit guides students through the analysis of quantitative data enabling students to build knowledge and skills in what techniques are available to analyse data.

Theory and Debates in Food Security and Food Justice (15 credits)

Food Security and Food Justice are areas of increasing importance at local, national, transnational and global scales. While various political and non-political agents at various scales have recognised that Global Hunger and Food Security (of which Food Justice is a primary component) is a key challenge requiring urgent interdisciplinary investigation and problem solving, there remains limited agreement as to how best to approach these issues and at what scale.

Epidemiology (15 credits)

This module provides an introduction to key epidemiological concepts; measures of disease; association and causation; confounding and bias. It will also introduce research designs including cross-sectional, ecological, cohort, case-control and intervention studies, as well as introducing key population health measures.

Theorising the City in the Global South (15 credits)

This module addresses debates at the interface between urban studies and development studies. Focusing on urban areas in the Global South, it looks at the city through a range of theoretical perspectives and from a variety of spatial scales, from everyday practices of citizens at the grassroots level to the representation of the city within national policy and planning processes.

Urban Development in the Global South (15 credits)

In this module students will explore in detail particular challenges to urban planning and development in the global South: how are conflicting imperatives of ecological sustainability, social inclusion and economic competitiveness being balanced by practitioners, and what implications does this have for those living there?

Disaster and Emergency Management (15 credits)

This module covers key concepts of disaster and emergency management, exploring contemporary issues which affect the likelihood, scale and impact of a disaster and how these can be minimized through appropriate emergency planning, preparation and response by the community, governmental and non-governmental organisations.

Spring semester

 Managing Climate Change (15 credits)

This module aims to engender a detailed understanding of the development of ideas and theories of climate change, integrating the core science behind our understandings of climate change with a critical analysis of how this is interpreted and communicated. This understanding is then applied to consider the challenge of living with climate change in the Global South.

 Using Policy to Strengthen Health Systems (15 credits)

This module develops critical understandings of health policy and particular health systems, and to develop ideas and proposals about how these health systems can be strengthened - and who might or might not benefit.

 Cities of Diversity (15 credits)

This module focuses on diversity in the form of differing social identities (such as race and gender) but also diversity in terms of interpretations of planning and city building, some of which may appear irrational to mainstream planning frameworks. The module will focus on cities in both the developing and developed world.

Planning for Informality (15 credits)

The module aims to develop a critical understanding of informality in the cities of the Global South. Through a mixture of seminars and group work it explores the patterns and causes of informal settlement and working practices, introducing and critiquing a range of theoretical approaches, and examines the responses of planners to informality.


The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it is up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research, funding changes, professional accreditation requirements, student or employer feedback, outcomes of reviews, and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

Information last updated: 17 December 2019

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