Online MSc Global Health Policy

About the Programme

Our online MSc in Global Health Policy provides students with the skills they need to analyse and respond to key population health challenges at the national and international levels. The Programme is taken on a part-time basis over three years, and delivered using videos, podcasts, live lectures, and instructor-moderated seminars. The MSc gives students access to an academically challenging but welcoming environment, and to a diverse range of postgraduate courses offered in one of the world’s leading centres for social science and public health research.


NEW: You can now see what studying with us is like first-hand, by visiting our 'taster module'. This is a publicly accessible version of one of the modules on our core compulsory course - Public Health and Health Policy - containing the lectures, readings, resources, exercises, assessment details and example live seminars, exactly as they happen on the Programme. Access the taster module by clicking here.


Programme Structure

The online MSc Global Health Policy programme is taken part-time. It has two components, a taught component involving a range of courses offered within GHPU and several other parts of the University, and a dissertation component, which involves carrying out a piece of independent research with the aim of developing your research skills and your expertise in a specific policy area. The dissertation is a unique and exciting opportunity to undertake an extended piece of scholarship in an area of specific interest to you.

Award Length Requirements
MSc 36 months part-time Successful completion of the four compulsory courses below AND two further optional courses PLUS an MSc dissertation

Degree Programme Timetable

Postgraduate Diploma (PG Dip) Exit only*. 24 months part-time Successful completion of the four compulsory courses below AND two further optional courses
Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert) Exit only*. 12 months part-time Successful completion of any three of the four compulsory courses below

*Please note that these are 'exit only' awards, made to those who exit the MSc programme having completed the relevant required credits. Students cannot apply to or register on the PGCert or PGDip programmes.

Compulsory Courses

  • Public health and health policy: Examines the key concepts and debates relating to public health and health policy in a global context, aiming to understand the policy-making process, analyse the roles of key health policy actors, and consider the relationship between evidence and policy in relation to health.
  • MSc dissertation (60 credits).

Core Elective Courses

Choose 10-20 credits from the following in year 1

  • Researching Health Policy: Quantitative Approaches. Introduces students to the use of quantitative methods in health policy research.
  • Researching Health Policy: Qualitative Approaches. Introduces students to the use of qualitative methods in health policy research.

Choose 20-60 credits from the following in year 2

  • Global Health Governance: examines how health policy is increasingly being shaped beyond the level of the nation state, focusing on the changing roles of international organisations, the commercial sector and civil society.
  • Health Inequities and Social Determinants of Health: Looks at the extent of inequalities in health, explores the underlying determinants of health, and considers policy responses to these.
  • Health Systems Analysis: Examines healthcare systems, policies and reforms with a focus on understanding economic principles and how these are applied by health policy-makers.
  • Researching Health Policy: Quantitative Approaches. Introduces students to the use of quantitative methods in health policy research.
  • Researching Health Policy: Qualitative Approaches. Introduces students to the use of qualitative methods in health policy research.

Optional Courses (up to 70 credits)

These change year-on-year. Please see the Degree Programme Table for 2020/21 for the full list.


Future Careers

The programme equips students for senior roles in national, regional, and global health organisations, research institutions, non-governmental organisations and consultancy firms. In addition, it provides a valuable opportunity for professionals wishing to re-train or to improve their knowledge and analytical skills.

On graduating, you will have the expertise you need to respond effectively to a range of key global health issues, from the emergence of new pandemics, to the stewardship of private sector actors in health systems, to combatting inequalities and non-communicable diseases.

For example, the programme will enable you to develop a critical understanding of:

  • the principles of sound health systems analysis
  • the social determinants of health and how these can best be addressed through policy intervention
  • the role of evidence and advocacy in shaping health policy at the national and global levels of governance
  • the nature of the challenges confronting policymakers in reducing health inequalities.

Many students have a passion for global health but work and/or family commitments preclude on-campus learning. This programme has been developed to offer those individuals the chance to develop their skills in global health. Our students come from a wide variety of countries at all levels of economic development and from a range of disciplinary backgrounds, with many using the MSc as a means of developing their careers or to move into a more policy-focused role.


Studying with the University of Edinburgh and GHPU

The University of Edinburgh is ranked one of the world's top 20 universities and this programme draws upon our leading expertise in research and teaching. We are committed to high quality and innovative teaching to help you reach your full potential via distance learning. Key international employers rate Edinburgh as one of the world's best universities for producing high quality, employable graduates.

The online MSc Global Health Policy programme is situated within the Global Health Policy Unit, which is located in University’s School of Social and Political Science. This reflects the programme’s reach across traditional boundaries, linking policy analysis, public health, social policy, economics, sociology, medicine and epidemiology. Unlike many traditional global health programmes, this programme offers the benefit of a more interdisciplinary orientation and a greater emphasis on policy than would, for example, a master’s of public health (MPH) programme.

All our students benefit from the strong research environment that informs our academic programmes. As a student with us you will work with some of the most influential academics in your chosen field and learn about the very latest developments in your subject.


Contact Us

If you would like to apply to the online MSc in Global Health Policy, or you are interested in finding out more, we invite you to get in touch with us.

For queries relating to entry requirements, programme fees and funding, or the application process, please contact the SPS Postgraduate Admissions Office:

For queries relating to the aims and objectives of the programme, specific courses available, and other programme content-related questions, please contact the Programme Director:


How to Apply – 13 August 2020

We recommend that you look over the Information and FAQs on applying for postgraduate study on the main University website before submitting your application.

Apply to this Programme.


Fees and Scholarships

  • Full fees information, including part time fees, is available here.
  • Information on funding and scholarships is here.

There are up to 15 Mastercard Scholars Foundation scholarships available for postgraduate study for selected programmes at the University (including the online MSc Global Health Policy). These online scholarships are only available to students who have been a previous Mastercard Foundation Scholar in a Mastercard Foundation partner institution. For more information about the scholarship, including eligibility, please visit,

Bologna Compatibility

Like all University of Edinburgh Master’s programmes, this degree is fully Bologna compatible, and is recognised across Europe and beyond under the principles of the Bologna framework. The programme comprises 180 Edinburgh credits, which are equivalent to 90 ECTS credits.