Postgraduate study

Data Science for Health and Social Care (Online Learning) PgProfDev

Awards: PgProfDev

Study modes: Part-time Intermittent Study

Online learning

Funding opportunities

Data is revolutionising the way health and social care is delivered.

The demand for health and social care professionals with data science skills is unprecedented.

This flexible online programme is aimed at:

  • people working in health or social care or computational roles who are interested in starting a career in data science
  • graduates who are seeking to develop data science skills that can be applied in health, social and care services

What you will learn

By studying the degree you will:

  • gain knowledge of the fundamentals of data science
  • develop expertise in accessing, interpreting and integrating data-intensive research into practice
  • build the knowledge and skills to engage effectively with data-driven approaches to health and social care
  • learn a range of skills, tools and understanding to use the transformational power of data to improve health and wellbeing and the management of care systems locally and globally

Why Edinburgh

By choosing to study with us you will:

  • be joining one of the top 20 universities in the world (QS World University Rankings 2021)
  • benefit from our strong track-record of Data-Driven Innovation (DDI)
  • become a student of the prestigious Usher Institute (part of the University), which is a world leader in DDI and one of five DDI hubs in Edinburgh and South East Scotland
  • be able to customise your learning experience by selecting optional courses delivered by our world-renowned experts and leaders across the University
  • have access to modern, intuitive fully accessible and responsive technology tools and systems
  • benefit from access to real-world data through DataLoch, a cutting-edge repository of health and social care data
  • join our vibrant, evidence-led cross-disciplinary community of academics and researchers
  • be part of a cohort of international students focused on shaping the future of health and social care

About the Usher Institute and the DDI programme

At The Usher Institute public, private and third sectors collaborate to enable data-driven advances in health and social care.

Our DDI programme develops innovative and financially sustainable models of health and social care that improve lives, through the application of data science.

The Institute draws on:

  • Scotland’s world-leading health data assets
  • well-established governance and data-sharing protocols developed in partnership with the National Health Service and the Scottish Government

The Usher Institute has also become well-recognised for its contribution to the COVID-19 response, which includes:

  • conducting research
  • advising the Scottish and UK governments
  • providing global public health advice and data

You can read more details on the Usher Institute and DDI programme websites.

Using real world data

DataLoch provides the programme with access to:

  • real life and synthetic datasets
  • best practice protocols
  • database management pipelines
  • application programme interface codes

These cover healthcare and social services.

We use the data and resources for:

  • teaching (including case studies, problem-based learning activities and assignments)
  • when you’re undertaking your research project in the final year of the degree

Online learning is a way for you to study an internationally recognised qualification without needing to attend classes on campus.

This is an ideal option if you wish to study for a postgraduate qualification alongside work or other commitments.

Online programmes are of equal value to on-campus programmes. The only difference is that the programme is delivered online, rather than on campus.

As an online student you have access to the University's excellent resources. We use the latest in educational technology tools and systems.

Our online learning platform enables you to communicate with our highly qualified teaching staff from the comfort of your own home or workplace, making this an ideal option for our many international students.

The platform has a modern, intuitive, fully accessible and responsive interface. It delivers a powerful teaching and learning experience on any device with an internet connection, anytime, anywhere.

Studying online at Edinburgh

The programme is delivered fully online with a study commitment of 10-12 hours per week.

It has been designed to embrace the role that technology can play to enhance teaching, learning and assessment. We offer a flexible approach that caters to different ways of learning.

Each student will be supported as an active member of a vibrant global online community where the learning is facilitated by tutors, tasks and materials that foster active, relevant and collaborative learning.

Find out more about studying an online degree by visiting our Online Learning webpage.

The MSc in Data Science for Health and Social Care is a part-time, online programme taught over 3 years.

You can exit the programme after:

  • Year 1 with a Certificate award
  • Year 2 with a Diploma, or
  • Year 3 with a MSc degree

Alternatively, you can also study stand-alone courses as postgraduate professional development (PPD).

All teaching is delivered online and you will be expected to use self-directed learning, peer-discussion boards, tutorials, peer presentations and other similar online learning activities to help engage with and get the most from the course materials.

Year 1

This year you’ll study 60 credits worth of classes.

You will take one compulsory course: Introduction to Data Science in health and social care. This is worth 20 credits.

You will also take four elective courses worth 10 credits each, from the following list:

  • Data ethics and ownership
  • Introduction to statistics in health and social care
  • Data standards and core technologies in health and social care
  • Digital health and social care
  • Data Analysis with R
  • Managing and leading data-driven innovation
  • An introduction to software development in health and social care
  • Health, social and care services delivery and organisation
  • Data visualisation: Knowledge transfer and exchange
  • Service user-driven design
  • Data security and protection in health and social care
  • Introduction to databases and information systems
  • Entrepreneurship and data-driven innovation
  • Introduction to data types and data structures in health and social care

Year 2

You will study for 60 credits by taking six elective courses worth 10 credits each.

Elective course options include:

  • Research methods for health and social care (this is compulsory for students with a non-research background undertaking a dissertation research project in year three)
  • Advanced epidemiology
  • Big data computing in health and social care
  • Python programming in health and social care
  • Implementation science in health and social care
  • Advanced statistics
  • Genomics in health and social care
  • Health and social care data resources and their uses
  • Working with unstructured data in health and social care
  • Introduction to health and social care economics
  • Decision support systems
  • Stratified health and social care
  • Machine learning and artificial intelligence
  • Health and social care policy in data science
  • Systems thinking for data in health and social care

Year 3

If you’re looking to complete your MSc in Data Science for Health and Social Care you will need to undertake a dissertation in Year 3. This is worth 60 credits.

You will be offered a list of projects and supervisors towards the end of Year 2. These include opportunities for online student placements with the public sector or industry.

Postgraduate Professional Development (PPD) option

PPD is aimed at working professionals who want to advance their knowledge through a postgraduate-level course(s), without the time or financial commitment of a full Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate.

You may take a maximum of 50 credits worth of courses over two years through our PPD scheme. These lead to a University of Edinburgh postgraduate award of academic credit.

Alternatively, after one year of taking courses you can choose to transfer your credits and continue on to studying towards a higher award on a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme.

Although PPD courses have various start dates throughout the year, you may only start a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme in the month of September.

Any time spent studying PPD will be deducted from the amount of time you will have left to complete a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme.

Contact us for more information about available courses and start dates.

Semester dates for the academic year 2021-2022

These are key dates in the academic year, which vary slightly year to year. For your programme these are:

  • Welcome Week: 13 – 17 September 2021
  • Term 1: 20 September - 3 December 2021
  • Term 2: 10 January – 25 March 2022
  • Term 3: 11 April - 24 June 2022

*(Revised 26 May 2021 to update semester dates for academic year 2021-2022.)

After completing the MSc Data Science for Health and Social Care programme you will be able to:

  • demonstrate a critical understanding of the principles and methods, governance and implications of data science in health and social care
  • create, identify and evaluate data-driven solutions to solve complex problems in healthcare and social services contexts
  • demonstrate the skills and capacity to analyse facts and situations and apply creative and inventive thinking to develop appropriate solutions
  • articulate and effectively explain information and to adapt communication styles for different people, situations and audiences
  • work collaboratively in a multi-disciplinary environment to deliver data-driven solutions

You will also develop:

  • observational, analytical, evaluation and synthesis skills that will provide you with a critical understanding of the principles and methods, and governance and implications of data science in health and social care
  • research and inquiry skills that will allow you to create, identify and evaluate data driven solutions in order to solve complex problems in health and social care contexts
  • personal skills and intellectual autonomy that will give you the capacity to analyse facts and situations and apply creative and inventive thinking to develop appropriate solutions
  • communication skills that will allow you to articulate and effectively explain information and to adapt their communication style for different people, situations and audiences
  • leadership and time management skills, and emotional intelligence that will allow you to work collaboratively in a multi-disciplinary environment to deliver data driven solutions
  • technical skills that will allow you to proactively extract knowledge and insights from data in new ways to drive innovation in health and social care

Our suite of data-driven courses will:

  • equip you with the data skills, capabilities, and competencies that will allow you to realise the value of data in your current role
  • open opportunities new career paths and promotion opportunities as they arise across the health and social care sector

Graduates from health and social care backgrounds

If your background is in health and social care you will be highly competitive for post-graduate training schemes in health service research and practitioner training positions. You will also be highly competitive for leadership positions in your area of health or social care.

Graduates from computational backgrounds

If your background is computational work or study you will be highly competitive for post-graduate training schemes in data science, data scientist roles and advanced practitioner training positions within the health and social care sector.

Enterpreneurial opportunities

Entrepreneurial graduates will have the commercial awareness and venture creation skills needed to take up opportunities to work for or grow the next generation of data-driven health and social care companies.

Examples of job roles

Some examples of job roles include:

  • health and social care data scientists and knowledge engineers
  • health and social care data management
  • management information system developer
  • software developer
  • information security manager
  • data analysts
  • senior clinical positions
  • civil service, government
  • social care, health policy and leadership
  • health and social care positions
  • data science in health and social care entrepreneurs
  • health economists

With our suite of Data Science for Health and Social Care courses we aim to create a vibrant learning environment that enables you to realise the value of data to benefit the health and wellbeing of citizens.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a health-related degree or in a relevant subject appropriate to the programme of study such as life sciences, social sciences, mathematics, statistics, engineering, computer science or other related discipline.

We may also consider your application if you have a minimum of 3 years' relevant work experience; please contact the programme team to check before you apply. You may be admitted to certificate level only in the first instance.

Students from China

This degree is Band D.

(Revised 23/03/2021 to remove conflicting English language requirements.)

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 Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each section. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each paper.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions 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:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PgProfDevUp to 2 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyTuition fees

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.

UK government and other external funding

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Usher Institute of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences
  • Old Medical School
  • Teviot Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AG

You must submit one reference with your application.

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

Further information

  • Usher Institute of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences
  • Old Medical School
  • Teviot Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AG