2021 start

International Development (Masters in Public Health)

Department of Geography, Faculty of Social Sciences

School of Health and Related Research, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health

Explore the intersections of international development and healthcare policy and practice in the Global South, while developing the skills to work in health and development organisations around the world.
Student participating in fieldwork in a laboratory in the Galapagos

Course description

This course combines expertise from development studies and public health to help you engage with the challenges of health and international development in today’s complex world. Working across the Department of Geography and the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), you'll develop an understanding of the interventions necessary to improve the health of communities in the Global South.

You'll develop a critical understanding of international development theories and debates in the context of public health research and practice. There’s an emphasis on applying your learning to complex challenges in the real world. You'll develop professional skills, carry out hands-on research during an overseas field class, and you'll complete a work placement-based dissertation that links academic theory with public health and international development practice.

Our teaching involves industry and sector specialists, which means you can make connections and contacts with a global network of expertise beyond the University. On this course you'll develop the practical skills you need to work within development and health organisations around the world.

Field class

You'll go on an overseas field class for around 10 days as part of this course.

The field class gives you the chance to develop your research skills while learning about everyday development challenges and the outcomes of development interventions. We offer a range of field class destinations each year. Recent field classes were in Kenya, Tanzania, India and Nepal.

The cost of the compulsory field class is included in your tuition fees.


The Tanzania field class gives you practical experience of field research. Working with our NGO partner KEDA, you'll be based in rural communities around Mt Kilimanjaro.

You'll research a range of issues that affect local communities such as health, environmental change and poverty alleviation among smallholder farmers. Each year students feed back to district officials and have even been interviewed for National TV.

The field class in Tanzania provided the incredible opportunity to bring case studies we had always read about in books and lectures to life through hands-on fieldwork. I was able to learn about issues in water, health and sanitation through the voices of local people. Conducting research in the rich and vibrant culture of Tanzania was an unforgettable experience.


The Nepal field class gives you the chance to work in small groups with a dedicated Nepali team member, taking part in community initiatives in Kathmandu before staying in Sindhupalchok District. You'll pursue research projects around themes of gender, health, migration, earthquake disaster recovery, community forestry and climate change. This research has a direct impact through a final dissemination event which in recent years has involved national political and media attention as well as regional and local stakeholders.

The field class is an amazing part of the masters programme, which allows you to consolidate the theory and ideas learnt in lectures, in the field. As well as preparing you for the dissertation it is also a great chance to meet and learn from students of different cultures in a new and interesting environment.


The dissertation with placement gives you valuable practical experience of working in a development organisation and engaging with development issues.

You'll spend six to eight weeks in June or July based in a host organisation, where you'll carry out a research project identified by the organisation and approved by the University. Your project will have clear practical relevance and will generate findings that form the basis of your dissertation. Students also spend time working directly on the organisation’s core activities.

We currently work with over 30 host organisations from across the globe, ranging from leading non-governmental organisations to development consultancy companies to local civil society organisations. Some have a wide remit, others have a specialist focus on issues such as conservation, education, health, migration, economic development and human rights.

The costs of the core dissertation with placement module are not included in your tuition fees.

There are various scholarships and bursaries available to support this placement, and local, low-cost placements are available.

Recent topics for the dissertation with placement
  • Exploring the impact of land certification programmes on land tenure security and land conflicts for peasants in Indonesia
  • Inclusive education for students with visual, hearing and physical disabilities: Barriers and experiences in Gondar, Northern Ethiopia
  • Sustainable livelihoods and the urban poor: The importance of rural-urban connections for second generation rural-urban migrants in Kampala, Uganda
  • Shifting and negotiating identities: Shan refugees in Northern Thailand
  • Breaking dichotomies and the process of social reproduction: A case study of urban market women in El Alto
  • Life histories of giving: Individuals’ changing relationships with charities over time Governance and livelihoods: The future of aquaculture on Lake Bunot, San Pablo, Philippines


We accept medical students who wish to intercalate their studies. Find out more on the Medical School's website.

Apply now

Open days

Join us for our online open day on Tuesday 27 April 2021 and Monday 27 September 2021 from 12pm-1pm (UK time). 

Register for our online open day


Explore core and optional modules

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. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.


The course is taught through a combination of seminars, lectures, workshops, reading groups and a 10-day international field class. 


You’re assessed on coursework assignments, project work and a dissertation.


1 year full-time 

Your career

Our public health masters graduates go on to work in very diverse areas, although many find work in a health or public health setting, including returning to medicine if they are medics or intercalating students. Other graduates have gone on to undertake further doctoral/PhD study or to work in research or academic settings, which we feel reflects the quality of our research-led teaching in preparing and inspiring students.

Students have also found excellent opportunities at the World Health Organisation (WHO), the World Bank Group and various international organisations and government agencies including:

  • Whatcom Alliance for Health
  • Japan International Cooperation Agency
  • Nigeria Centre for Disease Control
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET)

Student profile

My course has given me a fantastic opportunity to broaden my horizons beyond my medical background. The international development side has provided the opportunity for travel to both Kenya and Ghana and given me the flexibility to focus on my own interests. The course attracts a strong mix of international students and it’s allowed me to make some great friends from all around the globe.

Katherine Cobb
MPH International Development

Entry requirements

You'll need a 2:1 or first-class honours degree in an area of the social sciences or medicine.

Intercalating medical students must have successfully completed at least the equivalent of three years of an undergraduate medical degree and provide at least one satisfactory academic reference.

Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.

We also accept a range of other UK qualifications and other EU/international qualifications.

If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

Fees and funding

There are various scholarships and bursaries available to support the dissertation with placement. Low-cost local placements are also available.


You can apply for postgraduate study using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

Apply now

Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.

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