MSc Sexual & Reproductive Health Policy and Programming (pre-course info)

General welcome

Welcome to the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and congratulations on your offer for the online MSc Sexual & Reproductive Health Policy and Programming! We are delighted to welcome you to the programme, delivered with the University of Ghana.

The year ahead will be very busy but it will also be very exciting. LSHTM is a stimulating place to study, with a diverse student population, staff undertaking topical research and with a wide variety of online seminars always available.

We are working hard to make sure you are offered not only well supported learning but the opportunities to meet and converse with staff and fellow students. You will find that you learn a lot from the other students and informal meetings with members of staff as well as from the formal teaching. So please make sure you take advantage of the activities you are offered, and we are always open to requests and suggestions, so do not hesitate to let us know any queries or ideas you have.

You will receive further information on the MSc in due course. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to us. We are very much looking forward to welcoming you to the programme in September.

Dr Chido Dziva Chikwari (LSHTM), Dr Deda Ogum Alangea (University of Ghana) and Dr Rachel Scott (LSHTM)

Welcome Week

Welcome Week timetable


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.”

Overview of the programme

Please make sure you attend the Welcome Week sessions as we will be introducing you to the programme, teaching staff and other students on your programme. You will be given information about life at LSHTM and your programme as well as the opportunity to meet staff and other students online. So please take part and do not miss out on finding out about how teaching will operate this academic year.

Teaching starts in earnest the week following the Welcome Week. The programme will be delivered wholly online, with no in person attendance. Each week there will be asynchronous activities that you will study independently (such as recorded lectures, tasks and activities set by lecturers, participating in online discussion forums with peers and tutors, and independent reading), as well as synchronous (live) sessions. There are also private study periods - and you will need those! There will be much reading to be undertaken if you are to gain full advantage of this programme. Because of the amount of study time required it is not recommended that full-time students do more than 6 hours of paid work in any term-time week.

It is very important that you engage in all aspects of the programme, not just the live sessions, and plan you time to be able to do so. The programme can be taken over 12 months full-time or 24 months part-time. If you are studying full time you should expect to study around 40 hours per week, including 6-12 hours per week of synchronous sessions. If you are studying part-time you should expect to study around 20 hours per week, including 3-6 hours per week of synchronous sessions. Previous part-time students have made arrangements with their employer to support them to  dedicate the necessary amount of time to the programme. More information on part-time study is shown later in this webpage.

Every student is allocated a personal tutor, although this may be largely for pastoral care it is also for academic advice and support. A tutor is someone who takes an interest in your progress and with whom you can discuss problems, academic or personal. Allocation of tutors will be made during the Welcome Week and we need information from you about your background and interests – so please so please fill in this profile form by Monday 25th September.

In addition, this programme also runs a mentoring scheme. Mentors will be allocated to help you develop personal career goals in SRH; develop your skills in SRH leadership and decision-making; enhance your confidence and personal mastery; and build networks with other SRH professionals and leaders.  

The year is a very full one, but an exciting one. You will find that you learn a lot from each other too. Most students get stressed at some time or other with the sheer pace of the programme, but at the end of the year you will be amazed how much you have learnt, and most students enjoy their year tremendously. Working at this level can be a challenge so be aware there are professional welfare and counselling services on offer to support students.

If you have any questions or queries about the programme, or would like to talk about your study options as a part-time student, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Programme Directors on

Structure of the programme

Term 1 consists of ten weeks of teaching plus one week in the middle of the term when there is no formal teaching (reading week). Term 1 modules take place over a ten week period. Reading week is a time for private study and will also include a number of workshops and study skills sessions that you can sign up for. There will also be the module fair which will help you decide which modules to take in Terms 2.

Term 2 consists of a further ten weeks of teaching plus a reading week in the middle of the term. Term 2 modules run on a “five half-week” basis, so one module will run all of Monday/Tuesday plus Wednesday morning for five weeks, with the other in the latter half of the week.

Term 3 commences after the Easter break and comprises of five weeks of teaching (which takes place during the second half of the week) and the summer project.

During term time there will be other sessions you will need to attend such as Pentacells, meetings with your personal tutor, skills sessions and mentorship sessions. There will also be regular check-in meetings with Programme Directors to keep you posted on important updates and for you to ask questions and give us your feedback on the programme.

Term 1 timetable

All synchronous (live) sessions will be held in the afternoons, between 1.45pm and 5.30pm UTC. Live sessions in Term 1 are usually one to two hours long, but occasionally are longer. Students can do the asynchronous activities in their own time, but most live sessions will require some preparatory work so students will need to plan their time carefully to do this in advance of the live sessions.

Live sessions will be held on the following days:

  • Understanding and Applying Research Evidence (UARE) - Monday and Thursday afternoons
  • Health Policy & Systems for Sexual and Reproductive Health (HPS) - Tuesday afternoons
  • Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy & Programming (SRHR) - Wednesday afternoons
  • There are no compulsory live sessions for Distance Learning modules

Note that although no live sessions are scheduled for modules on Friday afternoons, other live sessions (e.g. mentoring master classes, training sessions) may take place.

Full time students are expected to study approximately 40 hours per week, and part-time students about 20 hours per week. In Term 1 full-time students complete four modules worth 60 credits in total, so students should spend approximately the following amount of time on each module:

  • UARE (20 credits) = ~13 hours per week
  • SRHR (15 credits) = ~10 hours per week
  • HPS (15 credits) = ~10 hours per week
  • DL module (10 credits) = ~7 hours per week

Note that not all this learning time is directed (students doing or participating in tasks set by lecturers, either synchronous or asynchronous); some of this time will be used by students for independent study, which might include things like wider reading, working on the assessment etc.

Project report

There will be a briefing session before the end of Term 1. You can discuss any thoughts you have about projects with your tutor but we do not expect you to have any ideas at this stage and we urge you to keep an open mind – after all you don’t know yet what will excite your interest during the programme!

Digital Skills

For those of you who need to improve your computing skills, any practice you can get between now and start of term will certainly help you. All assessments are submitted in Word and basic spreadsheet skills are also very useful. Therefore any practice with Word and Excel will help! Simple skills like being able to copy files from one place to another, using Windows Explorer or another browser, will save you time struggling in a class. You will get some extra practice during an extended digital skills session in Welcome Week, which will also help you with things like navigating Moodle, the virtual learning environment that you will use to access all your course content.

Information for part-time students

We sometimes refer to part-time study as ‘half-time’ study because you really do need to allow half of each term-time week for study. The programme requires a lot of personal reading and study; it is easy to fall behind if this is not budgeted for. A certain flexibility with employment arrangements is essential and most part-time students make arrangements with their employer in advance to ensure that they can successfully manage their work and study commitments.

Term 1

The first term for full-time students is an intensive one where they are introduced to reproductive health, health policy and systems, and research methods. For half-time students the pace is more manageable, but the problem arises about which of these courses to take first. The recommended option is to take ‘Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights’ as this module is a pre-requisite for many Term 2 modules. You can then select another module to study in Term 1, out of ‘Health Policy and Systems for Sexual and Reproductive Health’, ‘Understanding and Applying Research Evidence’, and the three options for Distance Learning modules.

The disadvantage that arises from half-time study in the first term is that modules in Terms 2 and 3 do assume that you know all the first term material and therefore some extra work is sometimes necessary to fill in gaps in knowledge, however this has not proved to be a serious problem for previous students.

Terms 2 and 3

In Term 2 full-time students take four modules, and most part-time students take two. All modules are designed on a “five half-week” basis, so one module will run all of Monday/Tuesday plus Wednesday morning for five weeks, with the other in the latter half of the week. Often the Wednesday half-day will be timetabled for private study but this cannot be guaranteed and some modules do timetable taught sessions on the Wednesday. For half-time students, attendance on more than two days of the week may not be necessary - we timetable to avoid this - but it is sometimes required.

Some modules are better timetabled for half-time students than others and you can’t be sure of the actual arrangements until you get a timetable for your chosen module. However no module timetables sessions outside their respective half of the week and therefore if you plan to be in student mode for the whole of that half-week then there will be no problem.

In Term 2 it will also be possible to take modules from the LSHTM master's programmes by Distance Learning offered via the University of London, which allows more flexibility in the timing of studying the material as it is self-directed. This may be of particular interest to half-time students. The choice of modules is limited and must be taken in Term 2. Details will be available at the start of the term.

The advantages of half-time study

  1. Students must take four modules in Term 2. For half-time students, the only requirement is to complete these over the two years. Therefore there is much greater flexibility over which modules to take, and when. Half-time students can, if they wish, take a module from one timetable slot in one year, and another from the same slot the following year; a flexibility that full-time students do not have. You can also choose to take two modules in one five-week block rather than one module in each five-week block (effectively studying ‘full-time’ but just for a five-week period).
  2. Half-time students do not usually undertake their project until June of Year 2. That means in Year 1 there is a large gap between the end of modules in May and the start of the next academic year. Some half-time students are able to arrange with their employers to go back to work for this period and “bank” their half-time entitlement to allow some full-time study over the project period in Year 2.
  3. Full-time students are required to work on their research project from shortly after the end of Term 2 assessments until the deadline in early September. Half-time students can of course plan and work on their project over the whole two-year period and therefore have more flexibility. However very few actually do this! For all the good intentions the norm is actually for half-time students to do little towards their project in Year 1 but arrange more time off from employment in Year 2 and cope with the project almost as a full-time student would. This is up to you, but it is a good idea as trying to do the project half-time in Year 2 can be stressful if pressure from your job increases. Remember however that at the end of Year 1 you still have not been taught some basic material of Term 1 and this does make it more difficult to make progress on the project in Year 1. Organising to have extra time for the project in Year 2 is a good idea!

A note on split-study

A way of studying part-time that is less common but can work very well for some students is called ‘split-study’. Split-study is where you study in blocks of time, but spread over two year. During the blocks of time that you are studying, you have the same schedule as a full-time student. For example, you would study all Term 1 modules in Year 1, and all Term 2 modules and your project in Year 2. (Or, you could study all Term 1 modules and half of Term 2 modules in Year 1, and the remaining Term 2 modules and your project in Term 2 – as long as you complete all the modules and your project in two years, the way you approach it can be very flexible.)

If you are a part-time student starting in September, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Programme Directors ( about approaches to part-time study and what would work best for you. We understand it can be complicated and are very happy to explain more and talk through your options.

Information for returning half-time students

Welcome back to the second year of your programme!

This year you will have a better sense of the workload involved and how online study works for you, and we hope this will be a fulfilling year for you. If you are studying part-time over 24 months, you will need to take all your remaining compulsory modules this year, plus your remaining electives. Do make sure that you liaise with your employer to make sure that you have sufficient time to dedicate to the programme and do the asynchronous work as well as attending all the module sessions.

The summer project is an important time for you this year – basically because you have to cope with them in the same way as full-time students but you have other calls on your time. For projects, we recommend that half-time students try and book as much time off as possible during the summer so that you can devote it to the project. Projects can develop slower than you think. If you manage it in less time than budgeted then you’re in credit, but this is much better than being in panic, with work demands to cope with as well. Please don’t hesitate to discuss potential problems with us.

Don’t forget that you also have full access to things like the one-off special courses that are laid on, often during reading weeks, as well as the Careers Service. Please make use of your tutors and Programme Directors ( if you have any questions – we are here to help you succeed on the programme.

Programme handbook

MSc Sexual & Reproductive Health Policy and Programming Handbook 2023-24 (pdf) (coming soon)

Page last updated September 2023