BSc/BSc (Hons) Public Health

Public health is about helping to prevent disease, improve health and prolong life. This, the first and only undergraduate degree in public health on offer in Scotland, will provide you with the knowledge and skills you need for a career in this diverse field.  It opens up opportunities in health promotion and in health policy, in government, in community health organisations, and in health-focused charities.

International Union for Health Promotion Education accreditation badge

Why QMU?

  • This new course is developed and delivered by public health academics with extensive academic and practical experience, who are able to link theory to practice and who have excellent professional links.
  • Along with theory, there  is a strong focus on work-based learning, preparing you for future employment.
  • The course is accredited by the International Union for Health Promotion Education.  It is mapped against professional competency frameworks, namely the UK Public Health Skills and Knowledge Framework, the UK Public Health Register’s (UKPHR) amended practitioner registration standards, and the IUHPE Health Promotion Competency Framework. This mapping provides quality assurance that the course is informed by current public health knowledge and practice and prepares students for professional registration.

On this course you will:

  • Gain skills and knowledge to develop the competent practice you need to protect and promote the health of people at individual and population level, opening up a wide range of career options. 
  • Learn about the political and social influences on health, inequalities of health, and the role of public health in reducing inequities and improving health outcomes.
  • Participate in work-based learning in each year of the course, enabling you to gain practical hand-on experience that boosts your employability.

Would you like to work raising awareness of the issues that affect health and wellbeing across the lifespan and to protect future generations? Or would you like to help people make better health and lifestyle choices? Or would you like to influence society to address the underlying factors that cause ill-health and disease? If so, this course could be your route to a satisfying career positively impacting people's lives in our communities and contributing to the overall health and wellbeing of society. What could be more rewarding than that?

Public Health Scotland defines public health as follows: "Public health is about improving and protecting the health and wellbeing of entire populations. These populations can be as small as a local neighbourhood, or as big as an entire country or region of the world. To do this, public health seeks to engage everyone to play their part. It is through the organised efforts of our society that we can give everyone the best chance to live long, healthy and fulfilling lives. Whereas traditional healthcare systems focus on treating individuals, public health plays a key role in preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health and wellbeing." See the video on this page for more information about public health.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vital role of public health practice locally, national and globally and the need for effective public health practitioners.  

You can opt to study this course full-time for an honours degree over four years or an ordinary degree over three years. You can also opt to study part-time for an honours degree over eight years and an ordinary degree over six years.

On this page you can read about the modules included in each of the four years of the course, along with information on public health careers etc. The module pattern outlined on this page is that for the full-time route. For more information on the module pattern for the part-time route, please contact Karen Hicks, Programme Leader at: khicks@qmu.ac.uk.

View a video about this course

What is Public Health? (video from Public Health Wessex Training Group)

Year One

You will:

  • Be introduced to public health theory and practice, providing you with the foundational knowledge you require for the course.
  • Be supported to develop your academic skills and start to integrate public health theory and practice.
  • Explore health improvement within the context of different settings and you will gain an understanding of how diversity, communication and inequality relate to health.
  • Carry out a internal work-based learning experience that enables you to explore and reflect upon public health practice within the context of the university.


  • Finding your Academic Voice
  • Introduction to the Principles and Practice of Public Health
  • Applying Public Health Principles to Practice
  • Settings and Place Based Health Improvement
  • The Sociological Imagination (part 2) Diversity and Inequality
  • Health Communication

Year Two

You will:

  • Focus on the community, undertaking your work –based learning in a community based organisation.
  • Alongside gaining experience of working with communities, explore public health theory and evidence based practice to work effectively with communities.
  • Gain an understanding of how to read and use data within public health and to understand how policies can support or hinder health.


  • Developing a Spirit of Enquiry
  • Introduction to Epidemiology in Public Health
  • Public Health Policy
  • Public Health Management
  • Community Health
  • Year Two Work-based Learning

Year Three

You will:

  • Be provided with further work-based learning and advanced knowledge, understanding and skills that support effective public health practice.
  • Continue to develop your academic and research skills while also developing analytical, service improvement and entrepreneurial skills that support the development of effective public health initiatives and services.
  • Undertake your work-based learning at Public Health Scotland and related organisations.


  • Understanding and Appraising the Evidence for Practice
  • Public Health Service Improvement
  • Data Analysis for Public Health
  • Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Persuasive Communication
  • Year Three Work-based learning

Year Four

You will:

  • Analyse the complexity of public health practice within a global context and will critically reflect upon emerging public health challenges, the implications for practice and the future of public health.
  • Undertake an extensive work-place learning opportunity at an organisation that you identify.
  • Undertake an Honours Project that enables you to use critical enquiry and to demonstrate you skills to planning, implementing and evaluating a small-scale project.


  • Public Health Futures
  • Contemporary Issues in Global Health and Social Policy
  • Applying Skills of Critical Enquiry (project)
  • Year Four Work-based learning

Teaching, learning and assessment

You will be taught via face to face and online lectures, seminars and workshops. Outside of these timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning through self- directed study. You will be assessed by a variety of assessments including essays, written reports, presentations and group work.

Work-based learning

  • You will undertake work-based learning within each year of the course.
  • In Year One you will undertake an internal work-based learning experience at QMU, using a Healthy University lens to support the health and wellbeing of the University
  • In Years Two, Three and Four you will undertake external work-based learning opportunities within a range of statutory and community based organisations.
  • You will be supported to find your own work-based learning opportunity from a pool of potential host organisations.
  • Work-based learning facilitates the integration of theory and practice and provides you with evidence of practice that supports your employability.


Developing competence within the diverse discipline of public health prepares you for a range of roles including, but not limited to health promoter, community health worker, public health analyst, trainer, public health practitioner or population health advisor.

Here we provide links with more information about working in public health:

NHS and public health careers

Working in NHS Public Health

NHS Public Health Careers

Careers in public health Scotland

Public Health Scotland Careers 

My world of work- Meet the Expert, Public Health Scotland

Public Health Scotland's Virtual Meet the Expert Information

Public Health Scotland's Virtual Meet the Expert Video

Plan It Plus

Learning resources Public Health Scotland

The Public Health Scotland Virtual Learning Environment 

Volunteering NHS

NHS Lothian Youth Volunteering

NHS Lothian Volunteering

Entry requirements

Scottish Higher: Standard - BBCC, Minimum - BCCC

A Level: CCD

Irish Leaving Certificate: H3 H3 H3 H3

International Baccalaureate: 26 points

International: IELTS of 6.0 with no element lower than 5.5

Required subjects: A science subject and a social science subject are preferred at Higher/A Level or equivalent. English required and Maths preferred at Nat 5/GCSE

Direct entry: This is a new course for 2023 and direct entry beyond Year One is not available.

Mature/Access: Visit our College Leavers and Mature Students Advice page for more information. 

We welcome applications from mature students with relevant qualifications and /or experience.

Am I a Widening Access student?: We apply the minimum entry criteria to applicants who meet one or more contextual factor. To see if this would apply to you, please refer to the access and application page.

Professional registration/accreditation

This course has been mapped against the UK’s Public Health Skills and Knowledge Framework the IUHPE Health Promotion Competency Framework and the Public Health Register’s (UKPHR) amended practitioner registration standards.

The course is accredited by the International Union for Health Promotion Education  (IUHPE) On successful completion of the course students can apply for registration with IUHPE providing professional accreditation and access to a wide range of resources.



Teaching staff, class sizes and timetables

For more information, please visit ‘How we teach and how you’ll learn’.

Awarding body

QMU. More information is in the ‘External Review’ section of our ‘How we teach and how you’ll learn’ page.

Open Day presentation

Please note:

• The modules listed here are correct at time of posting (Feb 2022) but may differ slightly to those offered in 2023. Please check back here for any updates.

• The delivery of this course is subject to the terms and conditions set out in our 2023/24 Entry Terms and Conditions (Undergraduate)

• Teaching staff may be subject to change.


Course Overview

On campus
3 or 4 years full-time
Start Date
September 2023
Study Abroad
School of Health Sciences
Subject Area
Fees & Funding
SCQF Level

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