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Programme syllabus:

Master's Programme in Public Health with a Specialization in Health Economics, 120 Credits

Swedish name: Masterprogram i folkhälsovetenskap med inriktning mot hälsoekonomi

This programme syllabus is valid: HT16 and until further notice

Programme code: VAHEM

Credit points: 120

Responsible faculty: Faculty of Medicine

Established by: Board of the Faculty of Medicine, 2015-12-15

Revised by: Programme council for the International Master Programme in Public Health (PRPH), 2017-02-02

Entry Requirements

A Bachelor's degree (equivalent to a Swedish Kandidatexamen, 180 ECTS) from an internationally recognised university including 60 credits in Public Health, Health Care, Economics, Business Administration (controlling, entrepreneurship, financing, management, accounting), Health Pedagogy or another relevant field in social or behavioral science. Proficiency in English equivalent to Swedish upper secondary course English B/6


Degree of Master of Science (120 Credits)
Main field of Study: Public Health
Specialisation: Health Economics

Description of the education for current education cycle

About the programme
Around the world, in both high-income and low-income countries, there is a major need for expertise in health economics. Health economists analyse how resources are used and how this affects health, but also how resources should be used to achieve the best possible health benefits. To-date, most health economists have worked with medical care services, but there is a growing need for health economics expertise in public health work and public health policy.

Health economics expertise is also valuable in organisational and system changes or in analyses of financing systems in healthcare.

Working with these issues requires knowledge of theories and methods both in health economics and public health – how one studies the health of the population and its development. The first year of study comprises courses in public health, epidemiology, biostatistics, qualitative methods, health system analysis, health economy evaluation and social explanatory models for public health development. After this year, a degree of Master of Science, 60 credits, Main Field of Study: Public Health can be obtained. (Swedish degree title: medicine magisterexamen, 60 högskolepoäng, i folkhälsovetenskap).

In the second year, students take three courses in health economics and a number of elective courses in public health or at the Umeå School of Business and Economics. Thereafter, a degree of Master of Science, 120 credits, Main Field of Study: Public Health, Specialization: Health Economics is achieved. (Swedish degree title: medicine masterexamen inom huvudområdet folkhälsovetenskap med inriktning mot hälsoekonomi).

The Master’s Programme in Public Health with a Specialization in Health Economics welcomes applicants who have a first-cycle (undergraduate) education in healthcare, economics or another social/behavioural science.

Of those who study health economics, many have attended a health sciences programme; they are, for example, doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, dieticians and dentists. Many also have an undergraduate degree in social sciences or behavioural sciences, such as social workers, economists, political scientists and psychologists.

The Master’s programme in health economics has been developed in cooperation between the Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine and the Umeå School of Business and Economics.

National goals for current degree

Knowledge and understanding
For the master’s degree, the student shall:

  •  Demonstrate knowledge and understanding in the main field of study for the programme, including both broad knowledge in the field and substantially specialised knowledge in certain areas of the field, as well as in-depth understanding of current research and development efforts, and
  •  Demonstrate specialised methodology knowledge in the main field of study for the programme.
Skills and abilities
For the master’s degree, the student shall:
  • Demonstrate an ability to critically and systematically integrate knowledge and to analyse, assess and handle complex phenomena, issues and situations even with limited information.
  • Demonstrate an ability to critically, independently and creatively identify and formulate questions, to plan and carry out – with adequate methods – advanced tasks within given time frames and thereby contribute to the development of knowledge, and to evaluate this work.
  • Demonstrate an ability in both national and international contexts to orally and in writing clearly present an account of and discuss their conclusions and the knowledge and arguments that form the basis of them in dialogue with various groups, and
  • Demonstrate the skills required to participate in research and development work or to independently work in another qualified capacity.
Judgement and approach
For the master’s degree, the student shall:
  • Demonstrate an ability to make assessments in the main field of study of the programme, considering relevant scientific, social and ethical aspects and demonstrate awareness of ethical aspects of research and development work.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the opportunities and limitations of science, its role in society and mankind’s responsibility for how it is used, and
  • Demonstrate an ability to identify their need for further knowledge and to take responsibility for the development of their knowledge.

Examination format

Examinations entail an assessment of the student’s achievements and constitute a basis for grading. The assessment takes place through written exams, oral exams in a seminar format and written reports and assignments. Exams shall be structured so that an individual assessment of the student’s achievements is possible. The examination formats are presented by each course syllabus.

A student who has failed at an ordinary examination session has the right to another exam (a retest), no earlier than ten working days after the results from the ordinary exam were announced and no later than three months after the ordinary exam and a further retest within one year, known as a catch-up test.

On condition that the student complies with the University’s rules for written examinations and does not exceed any limits in the number of examination sessions, a student may not be refused the opportunity to participate in an exam. This also applies when there are compulsory programme components that shall have been completed before passing the component/course. However, to pass, the student must complete the compulsory component afterwards or be granted an exemption from it.

A student who has undergone two exams for a course or a part of a course without passing results has the right to request a change of examiner.


Grades are set on completed courses. A three-point grading scale is used: pass with distinction, pass or fail. "Plusing" (i.e. the practice of retesting to raise an already passing grade) is not permitted.

Transfer of Credits

The student has the right to have a review done of whether earlier studies or activities can be accepted for credit transfer. For more information, refer to the Higher Education Ordinance and:

A negative decision regarding credit transfer can be appealed with the Swedish Higher Education Appeals Board. A negative decision shall also be justified in writing.


The studies in the Master’s Programme in Public Health (120 credits) comprise a total of four semesters (two years), which corresponds to courses of a total of 120 higher education credits. The degree project comprises 30 of these credits and can either be done in the form of one project that is examined in the fourth semester or in the form of two separate projects that are examined in the second semester and the fourth semester.

The studies are characterised by a high degree of independence, actively seeking knowledge, problem solving, critical analysis and evaluation based on a scientific approach. The work formats vary between individual work, work in study groups, seminars and lectures. A student who attends the programme is guaranteed admission to the core courses that are held in the scope of the chosen specialization. The course syllabuses present the entry requirements applicable for each course.
All teaching in the programme takes place in English.

Some courses are presupposed to be taken in a certain order, as presented by the course syllabus.

Core and elective courses
In the first year of study, all courses are core courses, meaning that there is no room for elective or optional courses. The students in the programme are guaranteed a place in these core courses. In the second year of study, four core courses (including the degree project) are held and nine electives (see programme overview below). For the courses held in the second year of study, some courses are continuation courses and are presupposed to be studied in a certain order as presented by the course syllabus. This can affect the possibility of studying a certain course as an elective. Students attending the programme are guaranteed to be able to take courses in the programme comprising 30 credits per semester on condition that the entry requirements for the course in question are met.

Programme overview
Academic year 1, autumn semester
Global public health, 10 credits
Biostatistics, 5 credits
Epidemiology, 10 credits
Qualitative methodology in public health, 5 credits

Academic year 1, spring semester
Health systems: Organisation and financing, 5 credits
Health economic evaluation methods, 5 credits
Social pathways in global health and health promotion, 5 credits
Master thesis, first year, 15 credits
Academic year 2, autumn semester
Methods and tools for economists (elective), 7.5 credits or
Evidence based public health (elective), 4 credits and
Equity and health (elective), 3.5 credits

Health economic theory (core), 7.5 credits

Social and environmental entrepreneurship (elective), 7.5 credits or
Project management (elective), 7.5 credits or
Environment and natural resource economics (elective), 7.5 credits or
Advanced biostatistics and epidemiology (elective), 7.5 credits

Advanced topics in health economic evaluation methods (core), 7.5 credits

Academic year 2, spring semester
Health, environment and sustainability (elective), 7.5 credits or
Planning and management in health care (elective), 7.5 credits

Evaluation in public health (core), 7.5 credits
Master thesis, second year (core), 15 credits

Degree project/independent studies
For the Master of Science in Public Health, the student must have completed, within the scope of the course requirements, independent studies (degree project) comprising at least 30 higher education credits in the main field of study of the second-cycle (graduate) programme.

The students at the programme can choose between doing an independent project comprising 30 credits and examined in the fourth semester or doing two separate independent projects comprising 15 credits each, of which the first is examined in the second semester and the second is examined in the fourth semester. Anyone choosing the first option must turn in a report in the second semester on the work done in that semester.

Deferment of studies

Deferment of the start of studies can be granted if special grounds exist. Examples of special grounds are illness, military service, pregnancy, care of a child or another care responsibility, etc.

A negative decision regarding a deferment of the start of studies can be appealed with the Swedish Higher Education Appeals Board.

Approved leave from studies

A temporary leave from studies may be granted if there are special circumstances. A negative decision concerning a restart of studies following a leave may be appealed to the Higher Education Appeals Board.


A student who decides to leave the studies shall report this to the programme study counselor. 


Participation in the programme’s introduction week is mandatory. Exemption from roll-call can only be granted when special grounds exist. Absence without a valid excuse can lead to a loss of the place in the programme. A decision to this regard is made by the programme coordinator.