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Programme syllabus:

Master's Programme in Public Health, 120 Credits

Swedish name: Masterprogram i folkhälsovetenskap

This programme syllabus is valid: HT16 and until further notice

Programme code: VAFHM

Credit points: 120

Responsible faculty: Faculty of Medicine

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 with a major in Public Health, Health Care or a relevant field in social or behavioral science. Proficiency in English equivalent to Swedish upper secondary course English B/6. Where the language of instruction is Swedish, applicants must prove proficiency in Swedish to the level required for basic eligibility for higher studies.


Master of Science (120 credits). Main Field of Study: Public Health.

Description of the education for current education cycle

(Higher Education Act, Chapter 1 Section 9) A second-cycle (graduate) programme shall build on the knowledge the students acquire in first-cycle (undergraduate) programmes or equivalent knowledge.

A graduate programme shall entail a deepening of knowledge, skills and abilities in relation to undergraduate studies and, in addition to what applies for undergraduate studies, shall:
- further develop the students’ ability to independently integrate and use knowledge,
- develop the students’ ability to handle complex phenomena, issues and situations, and
- develop the students’ qualifications for professional practice, which places considerable demands on independence, or for research and development work. Act (2006:173).

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.

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 the University’s rules at

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. The course syllabuses present the entry requirements applicable for each course.

All teaching 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, six core courses (including the degree project) are held and four 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.

Elective courses
Students attending the programme have guaranteed admission to an elective course on condition that they meet the entry requirements. In the second year of study, the students can choose to take two of the following courses: Advanced topics for health economy evaluation methods or Social epidemiology - theory and methods, and Health, environment and sustainability or Planning and management in healthcare.

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
Evidence based public health, 4 credits
Equity and health, 3.5 credits
Qualitative data analysis, 7.5 credits
Advanced biostatistics and epidemiology, 7.5 credits
Advanced topics in health economic evaluation methods (elective), 7.5 credits or
Social epidemiology - theory and methods (elective), 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, 7.5 credits
Master thesis, second year, 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.

Course roll-call
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.

Approved leave from studies

A leave from studies can be granted if special grounds exist. A negative decision regarding a resumption of studies after a leave from studies can be appealed with the Swedish Higher Education Appeals Board.


A student who leaves the programme shall notify the programme study advisor of non-completion.


Plagiarism policy
For information on the University’s plagiarism policy for the Faculty of Medicine, refer to the University’s website.

Rules for the programme
Rules for the programme are in the Higher Education Act (1992:1434) and the Higher Education Ordinance (1993:100), as well as the Rules and Regulation for First-cycle Education at Umeå University.