Postgraduate study

Health Policy MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Covid-19 update*

As part of the University-wide response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have reviewed our programmes and have decided to merge the MSc Health Policy degree with the MSc Global Health Policy degree for the 2021-22 academic year.

Students on the merged programme - MSc Global Health Policy - will be able to access the broad range of courses that are offered in the University's Global Health Policy Unit.

Please see the MSc Global Health Policy webpage for further details on how to apply.

MSc Global Health Policy

*(Revised 17 December 2020 to add information on programme suspension for 2021.)

Programme aims

The MSc Health Policy will develop your understanding of, and critical engagement with, key challenges in health policy.

Both state and non-state actors grapple with how best to promote the health of communities and populations, including the most effective strategies for:

  • preventing disease
  • ensuring efficient and high quality health care
  • reducing health inequalities

These challenges extend beyond the traditional domain of the health sector, requiring engagement with economic and social policy and a range of non-state actors including third sector organisations, commercial interests and international agencies.

Who this programme is for

The MSc in Health Policy is designed for individuals interested in a wide range of health-related roles including:

  • government and international agencies
  • health advocacy
  • health administration and health care delivery
  • consultancies
  • advisory roles
  • the commercial sector
  • health-related research

Our students come from countries at all levels of economic development and from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds, with many using the MSc as an investment to develop their careers or move into a more policy-focused role.

While the programme has a strong policy focus, it also includes an academic orientation so is good preparation for further research at PhD level.

Programme streams

Within the programme there is scope for you to specialise in either health systems or health inequalities, or to follow a broad policy stream.

Health Systems stream

The Health Systems stream is ideal for those seeking to work in health care policy, planning or management, in either the public or private sectors.

It will expose you to different models of health care financing, purchasing and delivery, equipping you to engage with key contemporary challenges and debates including:

  • how to achieve sustainable health care financing
  • the role of the state in health care
  • how best to achieve the goals of equity, efficiency and quality in health care delivery

Health Inequalities stream

The Health Inequalities stream is ideal for those seeking to engage with health disparities both between and within countries, particularly those relating to inequities in social structures and power.

In this stream you will explore evidence and policy responses to health inequalities across a range of axes, including:

  • class/socioeconomic position
  • ethnicity/race
  • gender

You will consider how health and its determinants are shaped by a range of influences including:

  • social and economic policy
  • commercial power
  • political conflict

This stream is particularly suited to those interested in working in policy, advocacy and research settings with a focus on health equity.

Broad policy stream

You may also elect to follow a broad policy stream within the MSc Health Policy, rather than specialising in health systems or health inequalities.

This stream equips you with an understanding of how health policy fits within broader approaches to social and economic policy, and is particularly suitable for individuals wanting to work in public policy, advocacy or research.

Health Policy at Edinburgh

The MSc programme is situated within the Global Health Policy Unit, which is located in the University’s School of Social and Political Science rather than a medical school.

This reflects our programme’s reach across traditional boundaries, linking:

  • policy analysis
  • public health
  • social policy
  • economics
  • sociology
  • medicine
  • epidemiology

The MSc Health Policy programme offers innovative research-led teaching that draws on academic expertise from all of these disciplines.

There are two key components to this degree:

  • a taught component
  • a dissertation component

For the taught component, you will complete one compulsory course and a number of option courses.

Following the taught courses, you will work towards an independently researched dissertation.

This programme is designed to equip you with the knowledge and critical skills you need to play a senior role in health policy, advocacy and research.

The specific aims of the programme are for you to:

  • have a critical understanding of core concepts and frameworks relevant to health policy and population health
  • be aware of key contemporary challenges to health and the role of the state and other actors in seeking to address these
  • have a critical awareness of the links between health policy and broader social and economic policies, including the extent to which health objectives may complement or be in tension with other social goals
  • understand different models of health care financing, purchasing and delivery, and be able to draw on these in critically appraising the roles of different actors in the development and implementation of health policy and in a diverse range of health systems reforms (Health Systems stream)
  • understand the social determinants of health and health inequalities, and apply this understanding in critically evaluating different approaches to improving health and reducing health inequalities (Health Inequalities stream)

This programme is intended to equip you with the skills and knowledge necessary to pursue employment in policy, advocacy and research roles relevant to health policy.

Most students use the MSc as an investment to develop their careers or move into a more policy-focused area, including jobs with:

  • health agencies or consultancies
  • government departments
  • international organisations
  • third sector organisations

By combining an advanced degree from a world-leading university with expertise in an innovative field relevant to multiple policy agendas, our graduates are well-placed to secure interesting positions within an often very competitive area.

Our graduates in recent years have moved on to a range of exciting employment and research positions.

These include positions:

  • with health departments and other government ministries in both high-income and low- and middle-income countries
  • with agencies and donor organisations working in health care and health promotion
  • with international organisations and consultancy
  • in research examining health systems for the European Union and other levels of regional governance
  • in commercial sector organisations including pharmaceutical and other health-related companies

You will have access to the University of Edinburgh Careers Service during the programme and for two years after graduation.

  • A UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent.
  • Evidence of an interest in global health policy consistent with the aims of this programme.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

For 2021 entry we will accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 100 (at least 20 in each module). We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Read our general information on tuition fees and studying costs:

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Graduate School of Social & Political Science
  • Chrystal Macmillan Building
  • 15A George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Graduate School of Social & Political Science
  • Chrystal Macmillan Building
  • 15A George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD