Health Informatics MSc (distance learning)

Health Informatics is now closed to new applications.

Start date: September
Duration: 2/3 years (distance learning)
Programme codes: MSc: INFT126 (3yr part-time), INFT160 (2yr part-time)
Postgraduate Diploma: INFT127 (part-time)
Postgraduate Certificate: INFT128 (part-time)
Accreditation: MSc & Diploma accredited by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).



Health Informatics is one of the fastest growing areas within healthcare. In its simplest form, health informatics is about getting the right information to the right person at the right time.

Why should I take this course?

It is critical to the delivery of information to healthcare professionals so they can deliver the most appropriate care. If you are working in, or closely with, the health sector and have an interest in using information and communication technologies to improve services in your sector, this is the course for you. You will learn the theory behind health informatics and develop practical management skills, as well as the ability to evaluate current trends in health and social care.

As this course is taught by distance learning, you can study from anywhere in the world. First year students will be invited to take part in an online induction before the course starts.

What will I gain?

This course prepares you to become an integral part of the information management structure within a health care setting. It will enable you to respond to future technological developments and ensure maximum information efficiency at all times.

What will I learn?

The course encompasses information science, computer science and health care, with core modules covering areas such as information systems, e-health and the use of electronic records, and optional topics ranging from telehealth and telecare to leadership and strategy in healthcare and analysis of health information. It equips students with generic tools to enable them to respond to future developments in health care and in information technology while grounding these in the "real world" of current initiatives in information policy, technology and management.

The course will prepare you to become an integral part of the information management structure within a health care setting. You will learn the theory behind health informatics and develop practical management skills, as well as the ability to evaluate current trends in health and social care. It will enable you to respond to future technological developments and ensure maximum information efficiency at all times.

The second year includes a research methods and dissertation preparation module to help you prepare for your dissertation on a subject of your choice, which you will undertake in your third year.

How will I be taught and assessed?

During the first two years you will be taught via the University’s Virtual Learning Environment and specialised distance-learning software, which delivers lectures, seminars and tutorials online in real-time. Each module lasts 12 weeks. On top of that, we recommend that you spend 10–12 hours a week on reading, coursework and assignment preparation. Assessment varies across modules and includes essays and written reports.

Throughout the course you will have the support of a personal tutor and module coordinators, and peer support through student-led discussions and interaction is also encouraged.

The 12–18,000-word dissertation makes up a third of the course and provides the opportunity, under one-to-one supervision, to focus in depth on a topic of your choice. You may choose to carry out your dissertation with an external organisation, for instance if you are in employment, your project could be directly related to your own work situation. In the past, students who have carried out such dissertations have welcomed the opportunity to tackle ‘real-life’ problems.

In addition, an important element of the course is the acquisition and development of the transferable skills needed in today’s workplace. These include skills in oral and written communication, developed through doing presentations and report writing as part of assessed work. Organisational and teamworking skills are developed through group work. We seek to develop your management and leadership capabilities on the course too.

Other courses

  • Postgraduate Certificate requires a total of 60 Credits
  • Postgraduate Diploma requires a total of 120 Credits

The Health Informatics MSc is a 2 or 3 year programme, running from September to September, and delivered by distance learning.

Modules have a value of credits: 180 credits are required for graduation, information can be found below.

Core Modules (Modules that you have to take) in Year 1: Semester Credits
HAR658 The Internet, Web and E-Health 1 15
INF6514 Introduction to Health Informatics 1 15
INF6535 Analysis of Health Information 2 15
Core Modules (Modules that you have to take) in Year 2:
INF6511 Information and Knowledge Management (Distance Learning) 1 15
INF6512 Information Systems in Health 2 15
HAR656 Evidence Based Practice and Healthcare Information 1 15
You must also take one of the following in Year 1, and one in Year 2:
HAR6059 Public Health Informatics (Distance Learning) 2 15
INF6513 Leadership, Strategy and Change (Distance Learning) 2 15
INF6525 Information Governance and Ethics 2 15
You will also take one the following in Year 3:
INF6545 Research Methods and Dissertation Preparation (Distance Learning) Academic Year 15
INF6555 Dissertation (Distance Learning) Academic Year 45

On the 2-year version of the course, the modules listed above in Year 3 and 2 are taken in Year 2.

Other courses

  • Postgraduate Certificate requires a total of 60 Credits
  • Postgraduate Diploma requires a total of 120 Credits
Entry Requirements

Entry requirements are deliberately kept flexible in recognition of the wide variety of skills, backgrounds and experiences of applicants working within today’s health and social services. You must demonstrate potential within three particular domains:

Academic background

You possess a honours degree, usually in a social science, science, technology or a medical/health area. However if you do not have a degree, but have substantial work experience in the health care environment, you may be admitted onto the Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma in the first instance, with the possibility of upgrading to the MSc, subject to making satisfactory progress.

Technical background

You have some experience of using a variety of computer systems in your workplace and an interest in how information and informatics are used to support patient care. Ideally you have access to computers both at work and at home.


You have at least two years’ experience working in a health care environment either within the health services or in a commercial role where you interact with the health sector. You may also be accepted if you have less than two years’ health care experience, provided that the quality of your experience to date is sufficiently high.

You do not need to conform to a ‘typical’ profile; instead you must demonstrate achievement in each of these domains and compensate for any shortfall by possessing complementary strengths in another domain.

English Language Entry Requirements

If your first language is not English you need to provide documentary evidence of English Language competence. You must meet the following minimum requirements:

Overall score 6.5
Listening 6.0
Reading 6.0
Speaking 6.0
Writing 6.0

Details of other qualifications recognised by the University of Sheffield can be found on the English language requirements webpage. You can also compare grades for English language assessments on the English Language Teaching Centre website.
If your application is successful you may need to attend an English Language class in the University before or during the course.

Open Days

If your application is successful we will invite you to attend an Interview/Open Day at the School. We hold open days several times a year, and will inform you of possible dates when we contact you. Attendance at an open day is optional but will give you the opportunity to see our facilities and to meet the academic staff and current students.

There is currently no closing date for applications for the coming academic year, but we encourage you to apply as early as possible.


Your career prospects

Postgraduate qualifications are often required in order to progress to senior positions in the health sector. Our Health Informatics MSc course will help you to develop your career in the sector and particularly within the growing field of health informatics and information management.

What people are saying about careers in health informatics

Health informatics is one of the fastest growing areas within the health care sector. Effective management and use of data is becoming more important within the sector so there is a growing need for individuals who can understand and manage information and information systems. Analysis and interpretation of data helps to plan the correct patient services and care, and professionals with a health informatics qualification are needed to make this happen.

The UK Health Informatics Career Framework illustrates the career levels within the various disciplines of health informatics. It is designed to help individuals to plan their careers and development opportunities. For professionals who are aiming to progress from level 5/6 to level 7, a Masters degree in a relevant subject such as health informatics is normally required.

Who is employing graduates?

Recent graduates work nationally and internationally and have been employed by the NHS, Healthcare Improvement Scotland and by the Department of Health.

What jobs could I do?

Graduates from the Health Informatics MSc degree progress into a number of roles including:

  • Information Systems Manager
  • Health Information Scientist
  • Chief Clinical Information Officer
Course Team

Course Coordinator

"My main areas of teaching revolve around the analysis of health information. I am passionate about finding and applying the right statistical tools to any given set of numbers. Data that involve people’s health are particularly sensitive and require careful handling and interpretation and I love passing these skills on to our students! I also have experience of working for the pharmaceutical market research industry and for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence."


Dr Laura Sbaffi

How long will I need to set aside for study each week?

Each module generally consists of twelve weeks of online lectures and/or study materials and we estimate that you should spend approximately 10-12 hours per week on reading, coursework and assignment preparation.

What sort of support can I expect from programme tutors?

Students will be given the support of a personal tutor who they may contact by telephone, fax, letter or email. Each module is supported by a module coordinator, who can help advise on the module contents and coursework requirements. Attention has also been given to peer support with opportunities for student-led discussions and interaction.

Apart from tuition fees and my time, what other resources do I need?

You must have access to computer facilities, firstly with appropriate software for producing assignments, and secondly with the capability of online communication, i.e. access to email and a World Wide Web browser and the Internet.

Is there a cut-off date for applying to the course?

There is no official application deadline. It is advisable to apply as soon as possible in order to leave enough time for your application to be processed and we recommend applying no later than August to begin studying in September.

When does the programme start?

The first year of the programme will normally commence in the middle week of September. Before this an online induction session will take place during which new students will be introduced to the Health Informatics programme. Following this, the Autumn semester lectures commence in the last week in September, in line with the University.

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's 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.