Professional Diploma in Tropical Nursing

Online course

Overview - Professional Diploma in Tropical Nursing

This highly popular course will now be delivered online.


The Professional Diploma in Tropical Nursing (PDTN) has proven an outstanding success in preparing nurses and allied medical professionals to work in low-income settings and make significant contributions to world health. For those wishing to work overseas, the PDTN is a first requirement, and as such is recommended by Médecins Sans Frontières, Save the Children, Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) the British Red Cross and other international agencies.

First established in 1996, the PDTN was the first programme of its kind that was designed with nurses in mind, acknowledging the vital role that they play in medicine and global health, whilst equipping them to work in a range of challenging circumstances with little or no infrastructural support.

The PDTN scholarship fund helps train, encourage and support the next generation of nurses from low- and middle-income countries.


The course covers a range of topics such as Public Health, Primary Health Care, Climate Crisis and Health, Medical Anthropology, Sanitation Technology, Mental Health, Maternal and Child Health, Nutrition, Immunology, Parasitology, Conflict and Health, together with wide coverage of neglected, but often common, Tropical Diseases. Lecturers are experts in their fields, with most having had substantial experience working in resource-poor settings. To some degree, the PDTN programme retains some flexibility so as to be able to accommodate current global health concerns.

There is also a highly regarded laboratory element to the course, directed by Principal of Biomedical Sciences, Claire Rogers, Head of Teaching and Diagnostics. During this course students learn to recognise Malaria, TB, Leishmaniasis, Filariasis and other parasitic diseases, from their morphological features. Blood grouping, cross-matching and haemoglobin estimation are also demonstrated.

Who should apply?

The PDTN is available to candidates with a degree who are currently registered as Nurses, Midwives, Paramedics or Allied Health Professionals. 

It is recommended that they have two years post-registration experience by the start of the course applied for. Any student who does not meet the above minimum entry requirements but who has relevant professional experience may still be eligible for admission.

How you will learn

Students study for one full day each week on a Wednesday for 19 weeks. For the duration of the programme, each week will typically include 7 hours of online time and 8 hours of self-directed study for a total of 285 notional hours.

The course is extremely rich and concentrated and you will get the most benefit from engaging with live lectures. Lectures are scheduled between 9am - 5pm London time, as well as being recorded and accessible afterwards on our e-leaning platform, Moodle. Where possible we do encourage all students to attend live lectures to be able to interact with the academic exercises, other students, ask questions and get immediate answers. Students from many different time zones across the world join our live online lectures to benefit from the enhanced learning experience. We strongly encourage students to make every effort to attend these live sessions, however, should their existing schedules occasionally make this impossible, the materials are also made accessible at the end of the course day, to enable students to catch up at a more convenient time for them.

Computer requirements

Students will require regular access to a computer (or mobile device) with an internet connection, speakers and a microphone to access the LSHTM’s online learning site where many of the programme’s study resources are located.

Internet connection and web access are essential. If you can stream videos, your connection and device should be sufficient. The main applications used during the programme are LSHTM’s online learning platform Moodle, Collaborate, Zoom, and videos.

It is recommended that users run the latest version of Chrome.

Alumnus inspiration: Aebhric O'Kelly


Alumnus Aebhric O'Kelly reflects on his experience studying the course online and how it has enhanced his career.

Laura Haskins
Laura Haskins, Diploma in Tropical Nursing Alumna

"The diploma gave me a strong foundation in so many different aspects of global health through a nursing lens." - Read Laura's Story

Aebhric O'Kelly - PDTN
Aebhric O'Kelly, Diploma in Tropical Nursing Alumnus

"I prefer the virtual format because I can access the lessons at any time to review. It is helpful to be able to pause the recording whilst I am taking notes." - Read Aebhric's Story

Professional Diploma in Tropical Nursing student Krystal Bodily
Krystal Bodily, Diploma in Tropical Nursing Alumna

“The skills and knowledge gained in this course are invaluable for those pursuing a career in global health.” - Read Krystal's story

Kevin Corrigan, Diploma in Tropical Nursing Alumnus
Nicolas Morris, Diploma in Tropical Nursing Alumnus

"The DTN has been fundamental in my career... it gave me the foundations of knowledge, skills, awareness and context needed for overseas health work" - Read Nicolas' story

Course objectives
Course objectives - Professional Diploma in Tropical Nursing

Aims & Objectives

The overarching aim of the Professional Diploma in Tropical Nursing programme - consistent with the School’s mission to improve health worldwide – is to prepare nurses, midwives and other medical professionals, to work effectively in tropical and resource-poor situations. Students will develop knowledge and understanding of the causes, prevention and treatment of major tropical diseases as well as the cultural, structural and organisational aspects of working in resource-poor settings.

The programme aims to do this by:

  • Providing students with the latest knowledge and skills relevant to nursing in low and middle income countries (LMIC).
  • Facilitating high quality learning that is informed by current knowledge and best practice.
  • Enabling students to develop analytical skills for both their careers and future learning.
  • Developing effective professionals, able to function well alone or in both team situations.

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Understand and evaluate key issues affecting primary health care in LMIC.
  • Aim to be able to maximize care in practice with minimum resources.
  • Demonstrate the importance of promoting health through prevention rather than cure.
  • Analyse, critically evaluate and interpret information from a variety of sources.

The course is Level 7 within the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ).

Learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate capability to plan, implement and evaluate primary care interventions in tropical and resource poor contexts.
  • Development of a nuanced understanding of the issues involved in caring for people of differing cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds.
  • Application and understanding of laboratory methods available at local and district level clinics in resource poor countries, for the diagnosis of infectious diseases and other medical conditions, and for managing patient care based on analysis of the laboratory results.
  • Develop effective cross cultural communication skills in challenging situations and around sensitive topics such as mother and child health issues.
  • Management of major tropical diseases and other complex nursing care for example diarrhoea and vomiting outbreaks in a resource poor setting.
  • Develop increased resilience and the ability to manage and improvise provision of care in resource poor or complex emergency settings.
  • Develop skills and approach to lifelong learning and continuing professional development that is grounded in current research.

Learning, teaching and assessment methods

The programme is taught through online lectures and laboratory sessions. Students are expected to learn through both directed and self-directed study.

Assessment is through a laboratory exam, a multiple choice exam and an academic, research-based essay, which offers the opportunity to study a single topic in depth and employ critical thinking and writing skills.

Candidates must pass all three course components.


Successful candidates will be awarded the 'Professional Diploma in Tropical Nursing'.

Mode of Study and Learning Time

The Professional Diploma in Tropical Nursing will be delivered online. Students study for one full day each week, Wednesdays for 19 weeks.

Testimonials - Professional Diploma in Tropical Nursing

Alumni survey results

100% of students would recommend the Professional Diploma in Tropical Nursing course according to the DTN alumni survey results.

Over 90% of students said that the course exceeded their expectations.

Comments by course participants

"The diploma gave me a strong foundation in so many different aspects of global health through a nursing lens. It reinforced for me that nursing is really key in all of these activities, and I now have the base of expertise from which to advocate for this in everything I do."
Laura Haskins - Project Officer at the International Atomic Energy Agency

"The faculty is top-notch. They offer fantastic tuition via the online format. One exceptional feature was the virtual laboratory sessions. LSHTM has successfully moved laboratory learning into an online format using H5P interactive learning. We learned the specimens found during a normal, classroom-based programme."
Aebhric O'Kelly - Executive Dean for the College of Remote and Offshore Medicine Foundation

"I was so inspired by the PDTN that I went on to become a Staff On Loan to the ICRC via the British Red Cross. Twenty years and many missions later, I am now a Chief Nurse at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). I recommend the PDTN to all newly recruited nurses; it was such an important part of my education as a humanitarian nurse. I cannot recommend it highly enough."
Amanda Baumgartner-Henley, Chief Nurse at the International Committee of the Red Cross

"The programme was fantastic and covered a wide variety of subject areas. It equipped me with a wide range of practical skills – some of which I had not even contemplated before! I believe I have become a better Paramedic as a result of completing the programme, and I highly recommended it to my colleagues."
Kevin Corrigan, Paramedic with the London Ambulance Service and overseas volunteer with UKMED

“I chose to study the Diploma in Tropical Nursing because I’m interested in public health and nursing. This course joins up my knowledge of both on nursing and public health problems. The biggest challenge I faced was the language aspect – especially in essay writing but Claire Bertschinger, the course director gave me the guidance and courage to overcome this. I was offered a job at the nursing school; I feel the Diploma helped me achieve this. My classmates are still contact with each other; they are just like a window open to me. I always gain courage and inspiration from them. In the future I would like do more research in nursing and to come back and study a PhD at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.”
Aimin Liu, China, Lecturer at the Nursing school, Kunming Medical University

“When I previously worked in Uganda, I was shocked by the impact of malaria in pregnancy and high rates of HIV. The Diploma course enabled us to think outside the box, work in difficult conditions and be prepared for emergencies. In Somalia, midwives have to deal with everything from counselling rape victims to administering antivirals. The group I worked with were amazing and I look forward to returning this year”.
Libin Ali Saleebaan, Midwife at Kings College Hospital in London, later went on to teach midwives in a maternity hospital in Somalia

Funding - DTN 2024

Applicants must hold an offer of a place before they can apply for any funding. The deadline for submission of all funding applications is Monday, 5 February 2024.

One full tuition fee waiver to the value of £2,140.00 is available.

Eligibility criteria:

Applicants must hold an offer of admission for the course. The fee waiver will be awarded to an applicant who is either:

  • resident in, and a national of, a Lower- or Middle- income country (LMIC) - World Bank definition OR
  • is currently working in a LMIC OR
  • intends to work in a LMIC after conclusion of the course.

How to apply

Applicants need to submit a statement of 250 words to clearly stating their eligibility for this award and the difference this award would make to them.

Please state ‘PDTN Fee Waiver Application’ in the subject line.

The deadline for submission of fee waiver applications is 5 February 2024.

How to apply
How to apply - Professional Diploma in Tropical Nursing


Applications are now closed. You can register your interest and we will let you know when applications reopen.

Please read LSHTM's Admissions policies prior to submitting your application.

Entry Criteria

The programme is open to candidates with a degree who are currently registered as nurses, midwives, paramedics or allied medical professionals.

Any prospective student who does not meet the above minimum entry requirements but who has relevant professional experience may still be eligible for admission. 

Candidates must be computer literate and have a good standard of written and spoken English and of English comprehension. LSHTM may ask the applicant to provide evidence of a satisfactory standard of English. LSHTM has approved certain English tests. Further details can be found in the English Language Requirements policy

Priority may be given to applicants with experience of working in low-and middle-income countries and to those with at least two years of post-qualification experience.