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Programme syllabus:

Second year of Master's Programme in Public Health with a Specialization in Health Economics, 60 Credits

Swedish name: Masterprogram i folkhälsovetenskap med inriktning mot hälsoekonomi, år 2

This programme syllabus is valid: HT17 and valid until HT22 (newer version of the programme syllabus exists)

Programme code: VAFEM

Credit points: 60

Registration number: FS -1907-17

Responsible faculty: Faculty of Medicine

Established by: Vice-Chancellor, 2017-11-28

Entry Requirements

A minimum of 240 ECTS including a Bachelor’s degree of equivalent first cycle qualification comprising of at least 180 ECTS or a corresponding qualification from an Internationally recognized University. Specific entry requirements are 60 ECTS in the field of Public Health of which a minimum of 10 ECTS includes foundation-level expertise in health economics. 30 ECTS of the studies in Public Health must be at advanced level. In addition, Proficiency in English equivalent to Swedish upper Secondary course English B/6.


After the completion of the educational programme, upon application the student may obtain a Degree of Master of Science (120 ECTS credits), Main Field of Study: Public Health, Specialization: Health Economics, in accordance with the locally established Degree Requirements as approved by the Vice Chancellor, (refer to The name for the degree in Swedish is Medicine masterexamen.

Description of the education for current education cycle

All over the world, in both high-income countries as well as low-income countries, there is a tremendous need for expertise in health economics. Health economists study and analyze not only how resources are used and how this affects health, but also how resources should be used so as to ensure maximum health benefits. So far, most health economists have worked with healthcare systems, but the need for expertise in health economics is increasing in public health work and public health policies.

Expertise in health economics is also valuable with organizational and system changes, or with analyses of health and medical care systems.

In order to be able to work with these issues, knowledge of theories and methods both within health economics and within public health is needed – how one studies the health of the population and its developments. Those fulfilling the entry requirements to apply are those with basic public health from Umeå University or from another university/higher education institution.

This programme corresponds to the second year of the Master's programme in Public Health with a specialization in health economics. The programme syllabus contains two courses in health economics and a number of elective courses at Epidemiology and Global Health and at Umeå School of Business and Economics. 

Thereafter, a Degree of Master of Science (120 ECTS credits), Main Field of Study: Public Health, Specialization: Health Economics, is obtained. (Name for the degree in Swedish: Medicine masterexamen, Huvudområde folkhälsovetenskap, Inriktning: Hälsoekonomi).

Of those who study health economics, many have a background in healthcare, such as doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, dieticians or dentists. Many also have a social or behavioral science undergraduate education, such as social workers, economists, political scientists or psychologists.

The Master’s Programme with a specialization in Health Economics has been developed in collaboration between the Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine and  Umeå School of Business and Economics. 

National goals for current degree

Knowledge and Understanding
For the Master’s degree, the student is required to

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding in the main field of study for the programme, including both broad knowledge in the field and substantially specialized knowledge in certain areas of the field, as well as in-depth understanding of current research and development efforts, and
  • Demonstrate specialized methodology knowledge in the main field of study for the programme.

Skills and Abilities
For the Master’s degree, the student is required to
  • Demonstrate an ability to critically and systematically integrate knowledge and to analyze, 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 is required to
  • 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 two 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

Students may apply for transfer of credits, for the whole or part of a course, based on completion of a prior educational programme or life/professional experience. If the application for a transfer of credits is declined, in whole or in part, the reasons for this will be provided in writing. There is a possibility to appeal the refusal of the application for a transfer of credits, by submitting an appeal to the Higher Education Appeals Board. For more information, contact Student Services/Examinations.


The educational programme for the Master’s programme in Public Health (120 higher education credits) ordinarily consists of four terms (2 years), which corresponds to courses of a total of 120 higher education credits. This educational programme presumes that one-half has been completed at an earlier date, which means that the programme consists of 60 higher education credits.

The studies are to be characterized by a high degree of independence, active seeking of knowledge, problem solving, critical analysis, and evaluation based on a scientific approach. The forms for the work for the programme vary between independent individual work, work in study groups, participating in seminars and attending lectures. Students who are accepted into the educational programme are guaranteed a place in the foundation courses that are offered within the framework of the selected profile. The course syllabuses state the prerequisite requirements for each course.
All teaching in the programme is conducted in English.

Core and elective courses
During the autumn term 4 core courses (C) and 3 electives (E) will be offered. During the spring term, 2 core courses and 2 elective courses are offered (see the programme overview below).

Programme Overview

Courses during the autumn term Credits Level Term
Evidence Based Public Health (C), 4 ECTS credits
Equity and Health (C), 3.5 ECTS credits

7.5 A 1
Health Economic Theory (C), 7.5 ECTS credits 7.5 A 1
Social and Environmental Entrepreneurship C (E), 7.5 ECTS credits
Project Management D (E), 7.5 ECTS credits
Advanced Biostatistics and Epidemiology (E), 7.5 ECTS credits
7.5 A 1
Advanced Topics in Health Economic Evaluation Methods (C), 7.5 ECTS credits 7.5 A 1

A student who has not previously completed a Master’s thesis comprising 15 credits in the academic discipline public health science, studies a Master’s thesis course comprising 30 credits during the spring term. Other students take courses as follows.

Courses in the spring term Credits Level Term
Health, Environment and Sustainability (E), 7.5 ECTS credits
Planning and Management in Health Care (E), 7.5 ECTS credits
7.5 A 2
Evaluation in Public Health (C), 7.5 ECTS credits 7.5 A 2
Master Thesis, second year (C), 15 ECTS credits 15 A 2

Degree Project/Thesis/Independent Work
For a Master’s Degree in Public Health, within the framework of the course requirements the student must have completed an independent work project (degree project/thesis) amounting to a minimum of 30 higher education credits at an advanced level within the primary academic discipline for the educational programme, of which a minimum of 15 credits must be within the specialization health economics.


Deferment of studies

A deferment of the start of studies may be granted if special reasons exist. The application for this is done in writing at the Student Services/Admissions after receiving a positive admission notice.
It is possible to appeal a negative decision regarding a request for deferment of the start of studies to the Higher Education Appeals Board.

Approved leave from studies

The rules for temporary interruptions in studies and discontinuation of studies are described in the Swedish Higher Education Ordinance (1993:100), Admission Requirements and Regulations at Umeå University, and the Legal Framework at Umeå University for Administration of Studies. A leave of absence granted means that the student, upon return after the leave of absence, is guaranteed a place (“place guarantee”) in the educational programme for the specific period of time as established. The grounds ensuring a guaranteed student place after a leave of absence may be social, medical or other special circumstances. Further information about any rules specific to the educational programme can be provided by the responsible department.

The University’s decision regarding a granted leave of absence shall relate to a specific period of time. If at the time when the studies are resumed after a leave of absence the relevant educational programme or curriculum can be regarded as having been changed, the student may be offered a place in a corresponding educational programme. This will then be stated in the decision on a leave of absence. Students who pay tuition fees, have a residence permit for studies, or who have been awarded scholarships/grant, these may be affected by a leave of absence from studies.

A student who has not been granted a leave of absence from studies according to their application is entitled to appeal the decision to the Higher Education Appeals Board.


A discontinuation of studies can be applied for/notified by the student themselves, or that such a situation exists may be determined by the University. A discontinuation of studies entails that the student is not guaranteed a place upon application for resumption of studies. The discontinuation of studies may be chosen by the student themselves, or may occur because the student does not fulfill the prerequisite requirements for subsequent courses.


Policy concerning Plagiarism 
For information on the University’s plagiarism policy for the Faculty of Medicine, please visit the University’s website.