Public health is the art and science of improving health through the organised efforts of society.

  • Learn how to carry out your own rapid health needs assessment and impact public health for the better.
  • Gain a population-based perspective on health, illness and disease.
  • Learn from some of the UK’s leading public health scientists and researchers, based in our award-winning Institute of Applied Health Sciences.

Access their skills and teaching wherever you are in the world, with this flexible online course that fits around full-time work.

Build credits towards a Masters degree

This online course is part of:

You can use the credits you earn on this short course towards any of these postgraduate qualifications.

What you’ll study

You’ll cover the three major areas of public health:

  • Healthcare evaluation
  • Health protection
  • Health promotion

Within these, you’ll cover the core concepts of public health, including identifying populations at risk, monitoring public health, the burden of ill-health, effective intervention and health inequalities.

You’ll learn about the practical application of numerical ways of thinking about the health of populations. You’ll study health needs assessments and how they can be used to improve the health of a population in the context of its political, economic and social circumstances.

You’ll select a health needs assessment topic and carry out your own rapid health needs assessment, with step-by-step guidance from some of the best experts in this field.

By the end of this course, you’ll be able to…

  • Explain the relevance and contributions of health protection, health promotion and healthcare provision towards improving population health.
  • Locate, utilise, interpret and present data obtained from the major sources of information available to assess population health.
  • Integrate numerical data within the context of a health needs assessment, as a rational approach to improving public health.
  • Carry out a rapid health needs assessment and make recommendations to improve public health based on the best evidence available.
  • Communicate public health-related information effectively to a range of audiences in support of improving the health of a population.

Why study public health online with the University of Aberdeen?

How you’ll study

Online learning

Our distance-learning Public Health in Action course is delivered flexibly, 100% online. You can access our expertise wherever you are in the world and manage your study hours to suit you.

Your teaching

This course is taught at Masters level.

Your teaching is delivered through MyAberdeen, our online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It holds all the materials, tools and support you’ll need in your studies. Take a look around MyAberdeen.

You can access your learning materials on computer, smartphone and laptop, 24 hours a day. You’ll find a range of resources at your fingertips, including:

  • recorded sessions
  • videos
  • discussion boards with classmates and tutors
  • the online resources of our award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library.

Your tutors

You’ll learn from an experienced team of clinical academics and public health practitioners from our Institute of Applied Health Sciences and NHS Grampian.

Your course coordinator

Where this will take you

Towards a Masters

You’ll earn 15 credits at Masters level (SCQF Level 11) with this course. You can use these credits towards our:

Build your learning

We have a range of online healthcare and medicine short courses you can use to build your skills.

Many carry credits you can build up into postgraduate qualifications, including Masters degrees:


Your employer or professional institute may recognise this course for Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Talk to your employer or institute to find out more.

Free career support

Access our free careers service while you study.

  • 1:1 appointments
  • CV checks
  • Interview prep
  • Job opportunities

See how our careers service can help you.

Entry requirements

This course includes many of the same learning outcomes as our on-campus Health Needs Assessment short course. We do not recommend studying both. If progressing to a related Masters, credits will only count from one of these courses, not both.

Entry guidance

This course has no formal entry requirements. You decide if it’s suitable for you.

The course is delivered at Masters level. At this level, you’d usually have at least:

  • a 2:2 (second-class) degree
  • or relevant experience that supports this level of study.

Apply for this course

Start date
18 September 2023
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