MSc Public Health for Development (pre-course info)

General welcome

We are delighted to welcome you to LSHTM and to the MSc Public Health for Development. We hope that you will find the year at both enjoyable and educationally enriching and we will do all we can to enhance your experience with us. We wish you all the best as you prepare to begin your studies, and look forward to getting to know you over the coming year. Please get in touch with any one of us should you have specific queries or concerns, and do continue to send all official correspondence to

Programme Directors: Hannah Blencowe; Daniel Chandramohan; Sandra Mounier-Jack
Programme Administrator: Nora Mingle

Welcome Week

Welcome Week Timetable

There is a one week orientation period at the start of the academic year. We will inform you about the structure of the year ahead, including academic teaching units, the MSc dissertation and course assessment. You will also meet fellow students, the Programme Directors and other members of staff involved in MSc Public Health for Development. We encourage part-time students to attend as much as you can to learn about the structure of your two years of study.

Personal tutors

At the start of the programme you will be allocated a personal tutor whom you will meet regularly with throughout the year. This tutor will support you throughout the programme discussing and advising you on academic and pastoral matters (if needed). Where possible we try to match personal tutors to the student’s background and areas of interest. To enable us to do this as effectively as possible, we ask that you complete this brief survey to give us an overview of your interests by Tuesday 14 September.

Term 1

Term 1 teaching begins on Monday 27 September and runs to Friday 10 December. There is a one-week reading week with no teaching sessions scheduled from 1 - 5 November. During this term you will study 5-compulsory modules where you will study alongside students from other MSc programmes, and one MSc Public Health for Development specific seminar series.

These modules will contain a mix of pre-recorded lectures, set readings, other online learning resources for your study, and a number of synchronous (live) sessions, including lectures and groupwork. Live sessions will be delivered remotely via Zoom up to 5 November. After this date, live sessions may be delivered face-to-face where feasible and safe to do so. You will receive more details regarding this nearer the time. Live teaching sessions usually take place between 9am and 5pm UK time. Further details will be available shortly for each module. As a guide a draft timetable for the live teaching sessions during the first term is given below, but please note that this is subject to change.

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
AM Public Health for Development seminar series Extended Epidemiology Extended Epidemiology PH4D Pentacells / Private study Statistics for Epidemiology and Population Health
PM Introduction to Health Economics Statistics for Epidemiology and Population Health Health Policy, Process & Power Principles of Social Research Private study

If you are a part time student you should contact one of us so we can plan your two-year programme together.

MSc Public Health for Development seminar series

The Public Health for Development seminar series consists of two-components which run in parallel: faculty-led sessions exploring ‘Key Concepts in Global Health and Development’ and a student-led seminar series. In the student-led seminars each student presents to the group on their public health experience. The purpose of the seminar series is to stimulate peer-to-peer learning, to give you an opportunity to inform fellow-students of your public health experience and expertise and to reflect on and critically evaluate your experience in light of the material you are studying in the modules, such as health policy, epidemiology or development principles. The exact format of the seminar series will be discussed during the welcome week.

Examples of seminar presentations in the previous years have included: Access to essential drugs in low- or middle-income countries; Community volunteers for HIV in sub-Saharan Africa; Management of a Cholera outbreak in an open war context; Response to Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone and Liberia. The format will be a short conference-style presentation followed by reflection and discussion. You will have plenty of time to prepare your presentation.

Terms 2 and 3

During Term 1, you will make your choices for Term 2 and 3 modules. You will study two elective modules during the first half of Term 2 and two during the second half. The Programme Directors and your personal tutor will guide and help you make the right decision. After Easter, the recommended module is Applying Public Health Principles.

Please see the programme webpages for the suite of modules you can choose from.

Summer project

Each student submits a project report of between 7,000 and 10,000 words on a subject related to public health in low- or middle-income countries. By February 2022 you should have developed your ideas for your summer project. The work starts in earnest after the June 2022 examinations and the submission deadline is around the first week of September. The project report addresses a research question relevant to public health in low- or middle-income countries and involves one of the following: data collection (qualitative or quantitative) and analysis; secondary analysis of a relevant dataset; a literature review; a policy report; a research protocol.

The project is based on independent work in an area of your choice and is intended to give you an opportunity to specialise in one field. Most students on this course provide their own topic, sometimes based on data or other information drawn from their professional background. You may wish to start thinking about this now. Occasionally members of staff have data sets to analyse and write up or ideas which they would like pursued and which can form the basis of a project.

Dissertations from recent years include:

- A randomised controlled trial to determine the efficacy of Directly Observed Therapy to improve long-term adherence to Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy in symptomatic HIV-1 infected patients in Hlabisa District, South Africa
- Factors affecting male uptake of community-based HIV counselling and testing in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review
- Polio vaccination access in high risk areas of Afghanistan: policy options
- Community midwifery programmes in fragile and conflict-affected countries: a review of approaches from recruitment to retention
- Anthropological reflections on `safe and dignified burials' in Sierra Leone during the West Africa Ebola epidemic
- The effect of rapid diagnostic tests on antibiotic prescribing practices: a secondary analysis of data from a randomised effectiveness trial in Afghanistan
- Health needs of elderly affected by humanitarian crises in low and middle income countries -- a systematic review.

Many students develop an area of interest during the course, but some arrive with an idea in mind. If you would like to pursue a subject based on your own materials, you should bring relevant information such as reports, data, or other material that you think might be useful.

Preparing for the programme

It is best to get used to academic activities before you arrive, especially if you have been out of education for some time. The programme is very intensive and if you can, you should brush up on your academic skills. The Open University has have developed good study skills materials which are available.

The compulsory Term 1 modules in Statistics and Epidemiology assume that you have a grasp of arithmetic and algebraic operations. If you have any doubts about your skills and would like to refresh them, sign up to the Khan Academy (make sure you click on Adult Learner when you register) or to Mathtutor and spend time brushing up on these skills.

Tutors on your Term 1 modules assume that you can read, write, understand and express yourself in English comfortably and that you have an ease with mathematical operations. Maths refresher sessions (shared with other MSc programmes) will be offered during the first term. During welcome week, you can take a self-assessment exercise which will indicate whether you might benefit from attending any of the sessions. You will also have access to Academic English support sessions.

Recommended reading

There is no required pre-MSc reading. For each course you study during the MSc, you will be given notes prepared by LSHTM's lecturers. This material covers the course content, or indicates when additional reading is required.

However, if you have some time prior to the start of the MSc it can be worth getting used to reading a few academic texts to familiarise yourself with this type of writing. These may be academic journals or books. A short list of potential useful texts is attached. Please remember, you don’t need to read these beforehand, and please don’t worry if you can’t get hold of them or do not have much time for reading in advance.

Examples of Background Reading (optional)

The following books are useful for your Term 1 modules: Health Policy, Epidemiology, Statistics, Health Economics and Social Sciences. Remember, it is not essential that you read these in advance. Please don’t worry if you can’t get hold of them before the start of the MSc as we have copies in the library.

a) Health Policy: Kent Buse, Nicholas Mays, Gill Walt (2012) Making Health Policy. McGraw-Hill Education

b) Epidemiology: Leon Gordis. Epidemiology. 5th Edition WB Saunders Company, 2014

c) Statistics: Kirkwood B. Sterne J. Essential Medical Statistics. 2nd Edition Blackwell Scientific 2003.

d) Health Economics: Guinness, L. & Wiseman, V. Introduction to health economics. 2nd ed. 2011, McGraw Hill

e) Social Science Methods: Durand, M. and Chantler. Principles of Social Research. McGraw-Hill Education, 2014

If you have time to do some background reading, we recommend that you look at academic journals which are available online:

Bulletin of the WHO
- BMJ Global Health
The Lancet (particularly The Lancet Global Health)
Social Science and Medicine
Health Policy and Planning
Tropical Medicine and International Health
PLOS Medicine

Programme handbook

MSc Public Health for Development Handbook 2021-22 (pdf)

Page last updated September 2021