Usher Institute

BLOG: An MPH student's thoughts on the Year 3 SLICC option

I am a final year postgraduate student on the University of Edinburgh Masters of Public Health (MPH) part-time, online course. I would like to share my experience of the innovative SLICC (Student-Led Individually Created Course) with you.

By Tina Chung | MPH Student

I chose to take up the 20-credit SLICC in the first place, in all honesty, because I really wanted the opportunity to take four other 10-credit elective courses which MPH offers in the third year. The other route for third year students was to do a 60-credit dissertation throughout the 9 months. I was also very intrigued by the idea of being able to set my own learning outcomes for a public health topic that interests me.

My SLICC topic was to explore the challenges of conducting clinical trials during the COVID-19 pandemic. As I work as a research pharmacist at a clinical trials centre in Hong Kong, I wanted to explore this public health issue at the local level through the lens of research practitioners at my workplace, and the global level through a literature review. At the beginning of the academic year, the MPH team would match you with a mentor who also had an interest in your SLICC topic.

My mentor, Dr Sarah Gregory, works for the sister programme MSc in Clinical Trials. She provided me with great support and guidance since the first time we met online to provide feedback on my proposed learning outcomes and practical activities for the course.

As the SLICC spans the entire academic year, some of the practical activities need to be carried out whilst you undertake the four elective courses. This could seem overwhelming as we only took one course at a time in previous years of the MPH programme. My very obvious advice is to plan ahead, and make good use of the high flexibility of the course to plan deadlines and arrange studies around work and personal commitments, including overseas vacation plans, now that borders are reopened!

I am so grateful that my mentor offered to have online meetings to catch up every month and provide feedback on my reflexive blogs. The monthly catch up acted as a little reminder that I needed to constantly record my learning process and reflections using blogs. This way I could spread the workload throughout the year and be more well-prepared when it’s time to produce a final report.

One thing that I would do differently if I were to start the SLICC again is to involve a work supervisor at the beginning as the SLICC topic is related to the workplace. I would tell them about my project early on and seek advice on what practical activities I can and cannot do at the workplace. I would suggest learning about your organisation’s social media policy if you would like to post on the organisation’s platform as one of the public dissemination options for your SLICC, as approvals could be complex and lengthy.

I am so glad I chose to take the SLICC as I was able to build my learning around a public health issue that interests me, enhance transferable skills, and integrate learning gained in the elective courses e.g. Public Health Approaches to Declining Health, Dying and Bereavement, and apply it in my local context in the real world.

I would highly recommend undertaking a SLICC to all potential MPH students! It really does help you develop a reflexive mindset which is beneficial in your professional, and personal life.