The MPhil in Public Health is a taught masters. This means that the emphasis is on formal teaching.
The MPhil is a full-time, intensive and demanding course with an average of four full teaching days each week, plus a substantial amount of self-directed study. Uniquely, all students receive regular one-to-one support from a dedicated course supervisor. Most course supervisors are only allocated one student per year. Depending on the nature of the research thesis they choose, students may also be allocated an additional thesis supervisor to provide one-to-one support for the thesis project.
All of the teaching in term one is considered compulsory for all students. This term focuses on epidemiological and biostatistical principles and procedures. Teaching sessions during this term are shared with students from the MPhil in Epidemiology. The teaching in this term also includes training in basic data handling and analysis using the statistical package Stata. A major task for this term is the Michaelmas Essay on descriptive epidemiology. With support and guidance from your supervisor, you’ll review the descriptive epidemiology of a particular disease or exposure. During this term you will begin to research an appropriate topic for your MPhil thesis.
Introduction to Epidemiology Module (click for topic list)
- Scope of epidemiology
- Measures of disease frequency
- Measures of association
- Measures of population impact
- Measures of dynamics of infectiousness
- Ecological/geographical studies
- Case control studies
- Cohort studies
- Intervention studies and RCTs
- Routine data sources: registries and record linkage, mortality, sociodemographic information
- Disease trends and standardization
- Random error/chance: type I and II errors, regression dilution, confidence
- Interaction and effect modification
- Association and Causation
- Validity and reliability
- Research synthesis.
Introduction to Biostatistics Module (click for topic list)
- Introduction to biostatistics and computing using Stata
- Descriptive statistics
- Normal distribution and confidence intervals
- Comparison of continuous variables between two groups
- Hypothesis tests and p-values
- Comparison of categorical variables between two groups
- Comparison of variables between two groups using distribution free methods
- Correlation and simple linear regression
- Multiple linear regression with several continuous exposures
- Multiple linear regression with binary and categorical exposures
- Multiple linear regression in practice
- Logistic regression
- Survival analysis.
Data handling and appraisal (click for topic list)
- Principles of data management
- Computing with Stata
- Database skills for study administration, data entry and manipulation of data sets.
All of the teaching in terms two and three is considered compulsory for all students. All students attend all of the modules listed below. In these terms the teaching is based on a modular programme of teaching, which focuses on advanced aspects of public health and key epidemiological research areas. The Public Health teaching sessions are not shared with MPhil in Epidemiology students, but the Advanced Epidemiology modules are. A major task for the second term is the Lent Essay and during this term, you will begin initial work on your thesis.
The modular programme of teaching continues during the third term, alongside revision for the written examinations in June and your thesis work.
Public Health Modules (click for topic list)
- Social sciences
- Health protection
- Health promotion
- Public health assessment (the detailed content of this module is accessible here)
- Ethics and law
- Health economics
- Health policy
- Public health genetics
- Global public health.
Advanced Epidemiology Modules (click for topic list)
- Chronic disease epidemiology, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes
- Infectious disease epidemiology
- Genetic and molecular epidemiology
- Nutritional and physical activity epidemiology
- Clinical trials
- Environmental epidemiology
- Psychiatric epidemiology.
Seminars and talks throughout the course
The Bradford Hill Seminar Series, given several times per term by visiting speakers, provide a wide perspective on public health research and practice. Students are encouraged to attend these and other relevant seminars, talks and events across the University where these fit around compulsory teaching.
Assessment and exams
- an essay of up to 3,000 words in length, in each of terms 1 and 2;
- two written exam papers, each of which may cover any area of the syllabus;
- a research thesis of up to 20,000 words.
In term 1, the essay takes the form of a descriptive epidemiology on a topic that students choose themselves. In term 2, the essay focuses on a public health question that students choose. Students develop and demonstrate a public health perspective on the question that they choose. Students receive one-to-one support from their dedicated course supervisor to choose and plan their essays.
The exams both take place in early June.
The time from after exams in early June to the end of July is entirely dedicated to the research thesis. This involves students conducting and writing up a significant, independent research project with support from a dedicated thesis supervisor. Students select a topic from their thesis based on their interests, alongside the interests and availability of staff. A thesis fair is held in term 1 where potential projects are described, but students may also approach staff they are interested in working with directly.