Title: International Health Core Course
Country: United Kingdom
Institution: UK - Institute for Global Health and Development, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh
Course coordinator: Karina Kielmann
Dr Carola Eyber
Date start: 2018-09-17
Date end: 2018-11-29
About duration and dates: 14 weeks on campus, plus 4 weeks for completion of assignments
Classification: core course
Mode of delivery: Face to face
Course location: Queen Margaret University Campus, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH21 6UU Scotland
ECTS credit points: 20 ECTS credits
SIT: 600 student investment hours
153 direct contact hours
447 hours student self-study
Language: English
By the end of the core course, students should be able to:
• Identify and analyse interrelated determinants of health and major health problems of populations in a cross-disciplinary perspective in low- and middle income societies.
• Critically collect, analyse and appraise qualitative and quantitative data relevant for the improvement of health and health care in low and middle income societies.
• Plan sustainable improvements of health systems considering the diverse intercultural settings as well as social and ethical responsibilities.
• Clearly communicate and work professionally in a multi-disciplinary team.

On completion of the course participants should be able to:

Identify and analyse interrelated determinants of health and major health problems of populations in a cross-disciplinary perspective in low- and middle income societies.
• Demonstrate a clear understanding of the key factors and forces shaping the health and well-being of disadvantaged populations in low, middle income and transitional countries;
• Demonstrate competence in specialist areas of international health. Take account of both global and local perspectives relevant to the social and organisational context of health service provision
Critically collect, analyse and appraise qualitative and quantitative data relevant for the improvement of health and health care in low and middle income societies
• Identify, analyse and critically appraise research approaches, design and method
• Critically analyse the development, use and application of a range of qualitative and quantitative techniques
• Critically interpret, analyse and utilise statistical and numerical information on health outcomes .
• Demonstrate competence in defining key epidemiological concepts and approaches, including their strengths and weaknesses

Plan sustainable improvements of health systems considering the diverse intercultural settings as well as social and ethical responsibilities.
• Acknowledge and deploy diverse perspectives on health, illness and well-being
• Confidently engage in utilising relevant and appropriate tools and frameworks for planning, developing and managing health systems
• Critically analyse and respond effectively and appropriately to policy and practice issues in international health and social development in diverse settings
• Demonstrate effective planning and management responses to challenges faced by health systems within resource-poor settings
• Contribute effectively to policy making at various levels recognising the variety of processes and inherent power dynamics involved
Clearly communicate and work professionally in a multi-disciplinary team
• Communicate effectively to diverse audiences in health and development utilising a range of media.
• Collaborate professionally in multi-disciplinary teams in health and development fora at local, national and global levels
Focus or specific features: The IIHD core course has a strong emphasis on the analysis of social and structural determinants of health and health systems development.
Assessment Procedures:
Assessments types differ across the different modules in order to evaluate different content and transferable skills. There are two formative assessments (non-graded), which include in-class exercises and take-home short assignments – these help to monitor students’ understanding and engagement with the teaching material and content.
Summative (graded) assessments are based on presentations in-class, written essays and exams. A selection of assignments (one-third) are second marked to ensure consistent marking; all failures (one opportunity to resubmit for a pass grade only) and resubmissions are also second marked. Assessments for different modules are listed below:

STUDY SKILLS /Learning Methodologies
Assessed through two formative assignments. The main formative assignment consists of an essay of 1500 words on a contemporary global health issue that relates to the candidates’ area of interest. The assignment is marked within three weeks with the aim of informing students of any areas of their writing which needs to improve before submitting the first module assignment. Students get written and oral feedback from their personal academic tutor. Those who fail the formative assignment or achieve a low grade are referred to the Effective Learning Service at QMU who provide additional support.
In addition, students do an online ‘Research Readiness’ test which assesses their ability to use and critically assess online sources, amongst other topics. Students repeat the test at the end of the module; they tend to appreciate seeing that their score has improved.


1) Practical research assignment (20%):
Word limit: 1,500 words

Each student conducts a semi-structured interview with another student in class, transcribes the interview and writes up a critical reflection on the interview process and the advantages and disadvantages of the method. This involves:
• Identification of research problem
• Developing an interview protocol
• Recordng the 30-40 minute interview; transcribing the interview
• Reflecting on appropriateness of questions posed, process of interviewing, positionality and strengths/weaknesses of interviews

2) A case study analysis of the methodological, ethical and practical challenges of conducting research (80%)
word limit 2500 words

The assignment is designed to give course participants the opportunity to critically analyse the logistical and ethical challenges of conducting research on a specific health or development issue in a low-resource setting. The students also need to propose an appropriate and feasible research methodology for the particular research problem that has been identifed in the case study. This involves:
• Demonstrating knowledge of appropriate and feasible research designs
• Proposing relevant methods for answering specific research questions
• Analysing the particular ethical issues that arise for the research
• Identifying and proposing mitigating strategies for logistical challenges that may arise in the case study setting

Group powerpoints and accompanying notes (estimated duration of 20 minutes), comparing the health systems of two countries. Peer or tutor assessed, (20%)

Written essay (3000 words) using a building blocks framework to analyse a health service delivery challenge (to be chosen from list of suggested topics or decided on by student in agreement with tutor) (80%)

Written essay (3000 words) from selected list of questions provided to demonstrate their ability to analyse and synthesise at least three elements covered within the module (100%)

Short answer in-class, open-book exam; students select 5 out of 8 listed questions that involve problem-solving or testing application of key concepts. Short answers range between ½ to 1 page maximum of typed text (80%)

Problem analysis and response exercise based on managing an endemic disease problem or localised epidemic (20%).

Failure of assessments

Students who fail an assessment are permitted to re-submit the assessment one time only. If successful with the resubmission a maximum of 50% (pass) is given. If unsuccessful, they are required to repeat the module. Students are allowed a total of 4 failures in total before being required to leave the programme.
Content: The four main categories of the MIH core course as defined by tropEd are:
1. Introduction and orientation
2. Concepts and research methods (4½ - 7½ ECTS)
3. Health problems and responses (4½ - 7½ ECTS)
4. Health systems, management and communication (4½ - 7½ ECTS)

For Details please click here
Methods include a variety of teaching/learning approaches: interactive presentations led by lecturer/students; groups working on problem-solving; case studies, film discussions, simulations and role plays; tutorials among others.
The core course consists of four modules run intensively over a period of 5 weeks each. The basic design for each module is two 3 hour teaching sessions a week. Each module differs in how the 3 hour session is designed but most will include teaching inputs (lectures) of between 1-1.5 hours, followed by group exercises and activities based around readings, case studies, group work, problem solving etc. Research seminars and visits to practice-based environments are also offered which vary each year.
Students are expected to carry out directed reading for every session to prepare for the student led work which they do in their self directed study time. In some cases, students are required to carry out group work to prepare presentations for class, or other similar exercises.

The Hub, the Blackboard virtual learning platform used by the university, is used extensively to provide teaching and learning materials to students (readings, lectures, and supplementary materials such as short videos), to communicate with students, and to enable discussions on literature and other topics. All assessed work is submitted through the Hub which also has plagiarism software that encourages students to check their work for plagiarism before submission. The QMU campus is well equipped with computer terminals available for students use, linked to a centralised platform which is available remotely through internet access (i.e. from home or outside the UK).

Tutorials are also held alongside the classes to assist preparation of assessed work.

Each student is assigned a personal tutor for the duration of the course, who advises and guides the student in academic and pastoral matters. Students have study skills support and if required assistance with academic English skills from the Effective Learning Service; they can also assist with assignment planning. A special needs coordinator liaises with the disabilities support unit at the university to support students with any disabilities or learning support needs such as dyslexia.
The course is open to health and social science professionals and students with a relevant undergraduate degree, preferably with at least 2 years professional experience. Proven proficiency in spoken and written English to level IELTS 6.0 or equivalent with a grade of 5.5. in every area or TOEFL score of 550 or 213 computer-based or internet-TOEFL score of 79 with additional limits in each skill area.
Up to 30 students; there is no nominal limit to the number of tropEd students.

Application deadlines: General guidelines for applying - early May for non-EU applicants and early August for EU/UK applicants
Selection carried out by IIHD admissions committee in line with QMU postgraduate admissions requirements. If all requirements are fulfilled selection is made on a first come first served basis.

• honours degree in a related subject area or professional qualification in a related areas (recognised for professional body membership and equivalent in academic terms to an honours degree) or a qualification in a related area from a professional institution and not less than 3 years professional experience at a level approved by the Admissions Committee.
• IELTS 6.0 in written and spoken English.
• statement that clearly explains motivation to study global health and development, ideally based in previous or current experience
• clearly stated intention or commitment to work in international health .

Relevant work experience is highly desirable, preferably within a low, middle income or transitional country setting.
Fees: UK/EU – GBP: 2800
NonEU - GBP: 5600
Major changes since initial accreditation:
Major changes to the core course since the last accreditation include
• Changes to the study skills module. In order to streamline resources and to enhance student experience international health students attend a study skills module offered by the School of Health Sciences, but open to all postgraduate programmes at Queen Margaret University. The students attend 12 sessions, facilitated by staff from IIHD as well as other departments within the School. At the end of the module students submit a written formative assignment: an essay of 1500 words. They then receive written and oral feedback from their Personal Academic Tutor before submitting their first module summative assignment.
• Some changes to the order of modules to take account of timetabling, The order of the modules in semester 1has been rearranged to improve the sequence of learning.
• Alterations to the UKBA visa system have affected our admissions criteria and progression policies. Within the UK as with many other countries there are increasingly demanding requirements for visas including higher first level (degree) qualification prior to MSc. In the past we were able to admit students with slightly lower qualifications but excellent work experience and demonstrated skills in writing. We had some leeway with English qualifications and financial arrangements. The new criteria mean that we admit fewer students from non traditional backgrounds to the MSc and this affects the traditional mix of students in the class room.
• A series of Grand Challenges lectures: In order to complement our core course, and to strengthen our epidemiological and disease specific work, we introduced a series of lectures highlighting major issues each year. These are intended to cover key areas such as Universal Coverage, meeting maternal health and Mental health needs, Health Systems and Human resources among others. The lectures are live streamed on the web and have proved popular and successful.
• Organising a ‘mini-conference’ in Term 1 where students present their previous work/project experiences in 10 minute presentations, organised in chaired thematic sessions. These provide students with a realistic ‘conference style’ forum to get to know and appreciate each others’ backgrounds and strengths, practice presentation skills, and gain confidence in discussing topical issues critically early on in the course.
Student evaluation:
Generally, feedback from current students and alumni on the programme was very positive. Most alumni (15 out of 20) considered the learning objectives achieved, although some indicated that they did not know yet whether they would be able to function at senior level. The vast majority of graduates considered the programme relevant (8) or very relevant (9) for their future career, while the majority of those taking part in the survey found the programme interesting (7) or very interesting (12). Several students appreciated the interdisciplinary, social science focus and found it very complementary for someone with a biomedical background: “This degree program truly helps the learner to understand the other side of health through understanding more about the health system and various theories used.” Graduates also appreciated the academic and personal support, and especially mentioned study skills, availability of staff and support from institute administration.

Regarding the changes to study skills (Learning Methodologies module), the most recent student evaluations (which are carried out at mid term,) stated that they found the module either very useful or useful to their work, and similarly very important or important to their work. The evaluations were highly positive on the new format of study skills (intensive three week module, 12 sessions of 2 hours each ) and in comments focused on how much they felt they had learnt regarding essay writing, referencing and plagiarism and literature searching .
Lessons learned:
These include:
Dealing effectively with tensions arising in group work situations: we achieved this through raising issues up front (explaining purpose and relevance of group work) and during the module - through a PRA exercise asking students to express anonymously what the main challenges were in group work and what could be done to overcome this. Students comments in the evaluation form indicate that this was very effective in resolving some of the tensions in the class and in the groups.

The study skills/learning methodologies module and the formative assignment (short essay) which closely resembles many summative assignments are highly appreciated by both international and home students who were educated at British higher education institutions.
tropEd accreditation:
Accredited in 1998 in Berlin, re-accredited May 2006, re-accredited in January 2010 and April 2015. This accreditation is valid until April 2020.
Email Address: ceyber@qmu.ac.uk
Date Of Record Creation: 2012-01-19 22:12:12 (W3C-DTF)
Date Of Record Release: 2012-01-20 04:30:16 (W3C-DTF)
Date Record Checked: 2018-06-21 (W3C-DTF)
Date Last Modified: 2018-06-21 15:36:55 (W3C-DTF)

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