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Public Health by Distance Learning (Certificate, Diploma and MSc)


These courses provide students with the knowledge and skills to contribute to the improved health of populations and particular groups within them through the promotion of health and prevention of diseases; the development and evaluation of care practices; and the investigation and control of environmental threats to health. Students are instructed in the development, use and critical evaluation of conceptual models, evidence, methods of analysis, and practical interventions.

The courses enable students to deepen their understanding of public health issues and to increase their potential career development in health-related fields in high-, middle- and low-income settings. Students come from diverse backgrounds; many are health professionals working at a service or policy level, while others wish to obtain public health skills that they can apply to their work in development, community services, government, research or teaching.

Course You study Study period
Master's Either 14 modules or 11 modules plus a project report 2-5 years
Postgraduate Diploma 10 modules 2-5 years
Postgraduate Certificate 6 modules 1-5 years
Individual modules Studying individual modules is an ideal option if you wish to update your professional knowledge or sample the programme.
 Key dates
Application deadline for PG Cert, PG Dip and MSc 31 August
Application deadline for individual modules 31 August
Registration deadline for PG Cert, PG Dip and MSc 30 September
Registration deadline for individual modules 31 October
Start of the course October
Examinations (take place the following year after  registration) June

This course is accredited by the Agency for Accreditation of Public Health Education in the European Region (APHEA) which is the accreditation body of the Association of Schools of Public Health in the European Region (ASPHER).


Dr Dina Khan who works for the World Health Organization, studied the School's MSc Public Health by distance learning.

The distance learning programme at the School fulfils my needs, as I cannot commit to full-time on-campus study.
Jingwen Xie, China


Course objectives

Students will develop:

  • the knowledge and skills to contribute to the health of populations, communities and disadvantaged groups
  • the ability to apply the core disciplines of public health (statistics, epidemiology, health economics and social research) to real world health problems
  • a deeper understanding of public health issues and an academic qualification that will enhance your career development in health-related fields

Students can choose a more general course or specialise in one of the following areas:

  • Environment & Health
  • Health Promotion
  • Health Services Management

Method of assessment

All distance learning modules are assessed by means of a two-hour unseen written examination (with 15 minutes planning/reading time at the start of the examination). 

PHM2 modules and elective modules from the other distance learning courses - EPM2, IDM2, IDM3 and IDM5 modules - are assessed partly by the two-hour unseen written examination (70%) and partly by an assessed assignment (30%), submitted electronically to the School by a set deadline.

Examinations take place once a year in June (please note: it is not possible to hold examinations at other times of year). These are normally held in a student’s country of residence. Details of available examination centres.

They are arranged mainly through Ministries of Education or the British Council. Students taking distance learning examinations will need to pay a fee to their local examination centre. Please note that if you fail an examination at the first entry you will be allowed one further attempt, if you have failed the module overall.


Course structure

  • Postgraduate Certificate (6 modules): 4 compulsory core modules + 2 further PHM1 modules + 4 elective modules (at least two must be taken from the PHM2 group)
  • Postgraduate Diploma (10 modules): 4 compulsory core modules + 2 further PHM1 modules + 4 elective modules t least 2 modules must be taken from the selection group PHM2. 
  • MSc (14 modules OR 11 modules and a project report): 4 compulsory core modules + 1 stream-specific PHM1 module + 1 further PHM1 module + 1 stream-specific PHM2 module + EITHER 7 elective modules OR 4 elective modules and a project report). Note: at least 4 of the elective modules must be taken from the selection group PHM2 (including the stream-specific compulsory module).

Module selection

Postgraduate Certificate

The Postgraduate Certificate comprises the four core modules which are also common to the Diploma and MSc courses:  

All students take two additional PHM1 modules, selected from:

Postgraduate Diploma

To complete the Postgraduate Diploma, four elective modules (in addition to the four core modules and two further modules) must be studied. At least two of these (three are recommended) must be taken from the PHM2 list below.

Master's Degree (MSc)

Students registered for the General stream must select eight modules from the list below OR complete five from the list (of which at least four must be PHM2 modules) and a final year project.

Students registered for a specialised stream (Health Promotion, Environment and Health or Health Services Management) must select seven modules from the list below in addition to the stream-specific compulsory PHM2 module OR complete four from the list (of which at least three must be PHM2 modules), the stream-specific compulsory PHM2 module, and a final year project.

Note that restrictions and pre-requisites may apply to some of the modules below. Not all modules will be available every year.

Project Report

All MSc students have the option to apply to undertake a project report specific to their chosen stream, which is equivalent to three module credits.

Credits awarded

Credits will be awarded for all elements successfully completed: 10 credits for each PHM1 module; 15 credits for PHM elective modules; and 45 credits for the project option. To successfully pass an award, the following credits must be gained:

Postgraduate Certificate – 60 credits
Postgraduate Diploma – 120 credits
Master's – 180 credits


How you study

Study materials

You receive your study materials after you register. Study materials may include Subject guides, Readers, Textbooks, CD-ROMs/additional computer software (e.g. Stata), Past examination papers and Examiners’ reports, and Handbooks. You also have access to the School’s online library resources. We also provide all students with a student registration card.

Flexible study

We know that if you have a full-time job, family or other commitments, and wish to study at a distance, you will have many calls on your time. The course allows you to study independently, at a time and pace that suits you (subject to some course-specific deadlines) using the comprehensive study materials provided, with support available from academic staff.You have between 1-5 years in which to complete the Postgraduate Certificate, and between 2-5 years in which to complete the Postgraduate Diploma or the MSc. 

The study year for most modules runs from the beginning of October through to the June exams, while two modules run from the beginning of January through to assignment submission at the end of August.  Tutorial support is available throughout this time.  Students carrying out projects are assigned personal supervisors to support their project work which is mostly carried out between June and the end of September in their final year.

Blended learning: taking modules in London

After successful completion of a minimum number of core modules, Postgraduate Diploma and MSc students may also be eligible for the 'blended learning option', which allows for the study of up to two modules only (from a restricted list) at the School in London during the Spring or Summer terms in place of distance learning modules. Please note that these options, and the dates when the modules are held at the School, are subject to change - full details will be sent to all distance learning students in July each year.


  • a web-based learning environment (including web conferencing, allowing you to engage in academic discussions with tutors and fellow students)
  • personalised feedback from teaching staff and advice on assignments
  • tutors are allocated to each module and are available to answer queries and promote discussion during the study year, through the online Virtual Learning Environment
  • communicate with other distance learning students, either individually or through learning support groups

Fees and funding


The fees below refer to the 2016-17 academic year only and are effective from 1 March 2016 until 30 November 2016. Fees are subject to annual review and may be paid in one of two ways:

Either: on initial registration, a single payment covering the course registration fee and all module fees
Master's £12,360
Postgraduate Diploma £9,750
Postgraduate Certificate £7,200
Or: pay the initial course registration fee, plus the fee for each module you are taking in the first year. Then, in subsequent years, you pay the fee for each new module you take.
Initial registration fee £1,155
Fee per core module £1,000
Fee per elective module £650
Fee for final project £1,935
Individual modules (taken on a stand-alone basis with no registration fee)
Fee per core module £1,200
Fee per elective module £1,800

When to pay

Fees may be paid in one of two ways:

Either, pay the total fee on registration by making a single payment. This covers the registration fee and all module fees;

Or, if you prefer to spread out your payments, pay the registration fee plus the fee for each module you want to take in the first year, and then in subsequent years pay the fee for each new module you take.

How to pay

All fees must be paid in pounds sterling (GBP) directly to the University of London. The University of London accepts:

  • Western Union - Quick Pay
  • Credit/debit card (Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, Electron, JCB)
  • Sterling banker's draft/cheque
  • International money/postal order 

Further details are given on the University of London website

Other costs

In addition to the fees payable to the University of London, you should also budget for the fee charged by your local examination centre to cover its costs; this fee will vary.

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

A second class honours degree or the equivalent, in a subject appropriate to the course, from a university or other institution acceptable to the University of London; and a minimum of one year's relevant work experience.

Students who do not satisfy the above requirements may still be admitted at the discretion of the School on the basis of their academic qualifications, work experience and references.

Applicants who do not satisfy the above requirements may still be admitted at the discretion of the University on the basis of their academic qualifications, work experience and references.

Language requirements

For awards at FHEQ level 7, students must provide satisfactory evidence showing that they have passed within the previous three years a test of proficiency in English at the following minimum level:

  • TOEFL score of 600 (or 250 in the computerised test) and a minimum of 5 in the TWE, or
  • A British Council (IELTS) overall score of 7 or over with a minimum of 7 in the written sub-test, or
  • TOEFL iBT with a minimum overall score of 100 including a minimum score of 24 in the test of written English taken within the last 3 years.

Where an applicant does not meet the prescribed English language proficiency requirements but believes they can demonstrate the requisite proficiency for admission the University may, at its discretion, consider the application.

How to apply

Application for study by Distance Learning

The School's distance learning courses are run in collaboration with the University of London International Programmes. For the distance learning courses applications must be made online to the University of London International Programmes.

Need help with completing your application online? Please check the "How to Apply" section of the University of London website.

If you have any enquiries, please submit your questions online to the University of London  International Programmes. Alternatively, please contact:

The Information Centre, University of London, Stewart House, 32 Russell Square, London, 
WC1B 5DN, United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7862 8360/8361/8362
Fax: +44 (0)20 7862 8358

Admission status


Course Directors

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