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Responding to Public Health Challenges

This module is a Masters (SCQF Level 11) module and is part of our MSc Health Studies programme.


Globally, Public health focuses on epidemics of newly emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases and the increase in chronic illnesses.  At both National and local level, Public health seeks to improve the health of populations by keeping people healthy, improving their health and by preventing disease.  The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-2021 is a reminder of the need to be better prepared to deal with new and emerging public health challenges (WHO, 2024).  Unacceptable inequalities in health still exist across societal groups (EU Commission, 2014; Kiloran et al, 2006; Scottish Government, 2018a), with some developed countries experiencing notable differences in life expectancy between poor and affluent areas of as much as 17 years (OECD, 2018; Sim, 2011). 

This module will explore the policy context and its intended impact (Scottish Government, 2018a; WHO, 2010), at a global, national and local level across sectors to address, improve health and tackle health inequalities (Walker and John, 2012; WHO, 2012).  It will allow an insight into some of the measures used in determining trends and patterns in population health, including epidemiology and health statistics, as well as a number of contemporary approaches in addressing health concerns (Douglas, 2010). 

Students will be introduced to public health theory and practice, and work towards adopting a systematic approach to developing health improvement interventions using the processes underpinned by public health and health promotion specialists.  Students will also explore the methods by which these interventions can be planned, managed and evaluated, in order to develop the maximum impact and benefit for organisations and stakeholders. 


Key topics

  • Determinants of health
  • Health inequalities and equity
  • Policy context; public and social policy
  • Epidemiology
  • Health needs assessment
  • Health improvement; policy, methodologies, models (e.g Beattie's, Downie, Fyffe & Tannahill etc.) and initiatives.
  • Cultural competence 


Course delivery and assessment 

This module will be delivered online through a combination of week to week study and synchronous Online MS Teams sessions with University of the West of Scotland (UWS) teaching staff.  Course materials will be accessible via our virtual learning environment and the course content will also be accessible online for a short time after the module has been delivered, allowing delegates to revisit aspects of teaching.  A detailed timetable for the module will be available prior to course commencement. 


Synchronous Online MS Teams sessions and weekly tutorials to be confirmed.

Delegates are required to complete assessments at the end of the module to demonstrate their knowledge.  Further information about the assessment methods and deadlines will be given to students soon after teaching begins.  

This is a Masters Level (SCQF Level 11) module and upon successful completion of the module, students will be awarded 20 credits. 



Our course is aimed at health and social care professionals or those with substantial professional experience at a senior level.  We welcome applications from wide range of backgrounds including (but not limited to) nursing, midwifery, health and social care, public health and health improvement, ambulance service, social work, allied health professionals and third sector professionals.

Delegates will ideally have an Ordinary bachelor's degree or demonstrate relevant senior management experience in a health-related area.  In addition, delegates must have the English language and literary skills as per university guidelines or Nursing and Midwifery guidelines* (IELTS score of 7.0 or above) for work-based modules.



This course may be available on a fully funded basis to some delegates.  Further details, including eligibility criteria, are available under Funding Support

If you have any questions, please contact us at


NOTE: This is a university module and upon approval of your application, you will be invited to register and then supported to complete enrolment. To enrol on the university system, the first step involves security set-up using the Microsoft Authenticator app; you will need to ensure that you have a compatible smartphone.

Further information is available at the Student Information Portal.

To access this module via the CPD route, individuals should be ordinarily resident in Scotland.  If you do not meet this criteria, please enquire here.

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