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; Simon Cohn
Programme Administrator: Nora Mingle

Welcome Week

Welcome Week timetable

There is a one-week orientation period at the start of the academic year (25th – 29th September 2023). During this time you will learn about the structure of the year ahead, including academic teaching units, the MSc dissertation (summer project) and course assessment. You will also meet fellow students, the Programme Directors and other members of staff involved in MSc Public Health for Development. The week will include a compulsory residential two-day retreat (28th – 29th September 2023) where students undertake a series of activities to get to know each other, learn about one another's public health experience and plan for the year ahead. We encourage part-time students to attend as much of the orientation week as possible to learn about the structure of your two years of study and get to know other students.

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 19th September 2023.


When you arrive at LSHTM, your Programme Director will invite you to participate in a Pentacell, an activity that strengthens the School community, increases our wellbeing and forwards our goal of improving global health. The idea is deceptively simple – five students meet weekly for five weeks and listen to each other’s ideas and perspectives. It’s not compulsory but is strongly recommended by our School's Director, Liam Smeeth, Programme Directors, Student Support Services and former students.

Feedback from previous students:

“It was nice to be able to connect with people on my programme that I wouldn't necessarily have spoken to otherwise and it was a good way to make friends at the beginning.”

“Our Pentacell group chose not always to follow the exact guidelines for each session, and instead focused more on getting to know members of our programme better. I enjoyed the Pentacell experience we had, as it helped develop interpersonal relationships with those on my programme.”

“It gave me an opportunity to meet people on my programme. It also helped me develop interpersonal skills.” 

“Very pleasant experience especially for me as an international student who moved to the UK for the 1st time.”

Term 1

Term 1 teaching begins on Monday 2nd October and runs to Friday 15th December. There is a one-week reading week with no teaching sessions scheduled from 6th – 10th  November. During this term you will study five compulsory modules where you will study alongside students from other MSc programmes, and one MSc Public Health for Development specific seminar series.

For 2023-24 the majority of this programme will be delivered on campus. Across the component modules of this MSc there will be a combination of live and interactive activities (synchronous learning) as well as pre-recorded or self-directed study (asynchronous learning), plus face-to-face practical classes.

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
AM Public Health for Development seminar series Extended Epidemiology Extended Epidemiology Private study or Skills sessions 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 the Programme Directors directly so we can support you in planning your two-year programme.

MSc Public Health for Development seminar series

The Public Health for Development seminar series which runs in Terms 1 and 3 consists of two-components: 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 2 you will study a total of four elective modules  (two before reading week and two after). Please see the programme webpages for the suite of modules you can choose from. Choices for these elective modules are made during Term 1, and guidance will be available from the Programme Directors and your personal tutor.

Term 3 comprises of the final  taught compulsory module ‘Applying Public Health Principles’, alongside preparation for your Summer Project (see below)

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 you should have developed your ideas for your summer project. The work starts in earnest during Term 3 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 developed good study skills materials. You may find the section on critical reading techniques especially helpful your preparation for studying.

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. In addition, 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.

Tutors will assume that you can read, write, understand and express yourself in English comfortably prior to your arrival in Term 1. However, for students with less experience of professional writing in English (even if English is your first language) . Academic English support sessions will be available from Term 1.

LSHTM uses an online virtual learning environment called ‘Moodle’. An introduction to this platform and digital skills required in preparation for your MSc can be accessed as part of our LSHTM Learning Skills 2023-2024 short course, a series of resources that will help prepare you to get off to a positive start once your modules start in September.

This course is entirely optional and you can drop in and out and work through the materials you want to at your own pace.

The course will familiarise you with our Virtual Learning Environment, Moodle; introduce some of the skills that will support your learning; and provide an opportunity for you to practise some essential writing techniques and maths skills through self-assessment quizzes.

To access the course, complete the following steps:

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, for example reading a few recent articles from an academic journal e.g. from BMJ Global Health or The Lancet (particularly The Lancet Global Health). Please remember, you don’t need to do any reading beforehand, and please don’t worry if you do not have much time for reading in advance.

Page last updated September 2023