Postgraduate study

Global Health Policy (Online Learning) Under review

Awards: Under review

Online learning

Funding opportunities

This programme provides students with the skills they need to play a leading role in the formulation of health policies at the national and transnational levels

The programme situates health, health inequalities and health policy in a global context, examining the extent to which health and its determinants are shaped by social, economic and political processes and the impacts on health policy of multiple factors.

With its multidisciplinary approach and online distance learning delivery, this programme will provide you with a flexible and focused examination of health, health inequalities and health policy in a global context.

Whether you’re from a health or social science background, you’ll develop a critical awareness of the role of the state, the commercial sector, civil society and international organisations in health policy and global governance, and an understanding of the challenges confronting policymakers in addressing health and reducing health inequalities.

Courses are delivered through:

  • short lecture videos
  • core texts
  • podcasts
  • instructor-moderated discussion forums

There are weekly readings and students engage with the material through online asynchronous discussion boards as well online activities that include writing blogs, producing policy briefs, creating mind maps and academic posters, and writing a group wiki.

Additional question-and-answer sessions also take place through live seminars, which are recorded for students not able to participate at the time.

Studying online at Edinburgh

Find out more about the benefits and practicalities of studying for an online degree:

The programme is available on a part-time basis over three years.

The programme’s flexible structure allows you to balance your studies with your other commitments. For example, you can either condense courses into two semesters, or spread a lighter workload across three semesters.

Qualification breakdown

For the MSc, you take one compulsory course, choose from a predefined list of core-elective courses and select freely from a pool of elective courses. All students are required to undertake the final year dissertation course.

You can exit the programme at any stage with the qualification that you have earned, which is determined by the number of credits successfully achieved at the required level.

If you complete 60 credits (including among them the compulsory Public Health and Health Policy course), you will be eligible for a Postgraduate Certificate in Global Health Policy.

If you complete 120 credits (including among them the compulsory Public Health and Health Policy course and at least one of the core electives), you will be eligible for a Postgraduate Diploma in Global Health Policy.

An MSc will be awarded to you if you fulfil the requirements for the Postgraduate Diploma and complete the compulsory dissertation course. Graduates receive identical degree certificates to that of on-campus students. Degree certificates do not state that the programme is delivered online.


All courses are assessed using coursework assignments, which can be submitted via the online portal, without paper copies.

Types of assessment vary between courses but many involve an essay component, where you choose from a list of possible questions pertaining to the topics covered on the course.

Other assessments include:

  • policy briefs
  • commentaries
  • portfolios
  • research plans
  • critical evaluations

In each case, a range of support is offered, including dedicated sessions focused on essay writing, referencing, building an argument and other academic skills, as well as annotated example assessments and one-on-one sessions with course tutors.

Deadlines and requirements are communicated well in advance and you receive detailed feedback on your work.

Compulsory courses

  • Public Health and Health Policy (Year 1)
  • MSc Dissertation (Year 3)

Core elective courses (indicative)

  • Global Health Governance
  • Health Inequalities and Social Determinants of Health
  • Health Systems Analysis
  • Researching Health Policy: Qualitative Approaches
  • Researching Health Policy: Quantitative Approaches

Elective courses (indicative)

  • Analysing Development
  • Epidemiology for Public Health
  • Epidemiology of Chronic Disease
  • Fundamentals of Health Economics
  • Global Development Challenges
  • Global Health Challenges
  • Globalisation and Non-Communicable Diseases
  • Introduction to Health Promotion
  • Leadership, Management and Promoting Public Health Change
  • Maternal Health
  • NCDs in a Global Context
  • Politics and Theories of International Development
  • Systematic Reviews

Please note that available elective courses change year-on-year and may be different, in your year of study, to those shown above.

On completion of this programme you will be able to understand, critically appraise and apply key concepts and theories within public health and policy studies with specific reference to social and economic determinants of population health status.

You will also develop the skills to:

  • apply social science perspectives to public health questions
  • assess the changing context of public health policy formulation
  • analyse diverse source materials and apply to public health questions
  • articulate your own conception of core challenges confronting public health
  • engage in public health advocacy
  • work across disciplinary boundaries

Our students come from a diverse range of professional, personal, disciplinary and geographical backgrounds.

Many use our MSc as an investment to develop their careers or to move into a more policy-focused role, though the programme also has an academic orientation and is therefore good preparation for further research at the PhD level.

The programme aims to equip students for senior roles in:

  • national, regional or global health organisations
  • research institutions
  • non-governmental organisations
  • private sector consultancies

On graduating, you will have the skills you need to help these organisations respond to a range of key global issues, from the emergence of new pandemics and antibiotic resistance, to the role of private actors in strengthening healthcare systems, to the challenge of regulating multinational corporations as part of efforts to combat non-communicable diseases.

These entry requirements are for the 2023/24 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2024/25 academic year will be published on 2 October 2023.

A UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent.

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

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.0 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 59 in each component.

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, Trinity ISE or PTE, 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 (non-MESC).

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:

Tuition fees

Featured funding

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

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit one reference with your application.

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