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Occupational Health (Policy and Practice) (MSc)

  • Duration: 3 years
  • Mode: Part time distance learning

Start date

Open day

Find out more about studying here as a postgraduate at our next Open Day.

Why study this course

This programme is suitable for physicians, nurses, environmental health officers, human resource professionals, trade union representatives, health and safety inspectors, managers, civil servants, scientists and others who have responsibility for the health and safety of employees.

The MSc in Occupational Health is a part-time distance learning programme that offers knowledge and expertise in the science underpinning occupational health and safety.

It offers a convenient means for nurses, doctors, health and safety advisors or managers with busy work schedules and other responsibilities, to gain a postgraduate degree in Occupational Health.

The emphasis is on common occupational health and safety issues encountered in the workplace.

The aims of the course are:

  • To develop an understanding of the broad processes underpinning health protection in the workplace.
  • To develop and enhance research in occupational health directly applicable and beneficial to practice.
  • To encourage attitudes pertinent to the team approach.

The course encourages self-directed learning, critical thinking and comparative analysis of occupational health systems and practice. This is done within a structured and dynamic online learning environment that provides interactive multidisciplinary learning and the opportunity for mutual support and collaboration. 

The course aims to enable you to explore, understand, analyse and/or apply:

  • The concepts of occupational health practice in relation to current needs and initiatives.
  • The role of occupational health practitioners and the analysis of their effectiveness in practice.
  • The management of occupational health issues including psychological, sociological and philosophical perspectives, which may affect management strategies and impinge on the role of specialist practitioners.
  • Assessments of the work environment, its effects on health, relevant legislation and the effective control of workplace hazards.
  • Health surveillance, its application within the workplace and the design of appropriate occupational health programmes.
  • Specialist roles within occupational health practice through the critical appraisal of literature and research.
  • Epidemiological principles in occupational health practice and the significance of data collection in the development of evidence based practice.

Throughout the course there will be opportunities for the development of critical appraisal skills in the analysis of literature and the development of research-based activities in occupational health practice. 

The MSc dissertation then provides the opportunity to carry out research involving a detailed literature review, the formulation of research questions, hypotheses, aims and objectives, and conducting data collection, analysis and the presentation of results. 

Distinctive features

  • The bulk of the course is delivered online. This gives you the opportunity to work at your own speed, and time of your choosing, and allows you to combine study with a busy professional career
  • Subject to sufficient student interest, a short introductory course is also held in Cardiff, giving you an opportunity to meet your course tutors and fellow students
  •  The course is delivered by working occupational health practitioners and experts in their fields. The emphasis is on evidence-based practice and practical solutions

Where you'll study

School of Medicine

We are of the largest medical schools in UK, committed to the pursuit of improved human health through education and research.

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  • Telephone+44 (0)29 2068 7214
  • MarkerUniversity Hospital of Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff, CF14 4XN

Admissions criteria

Applicants will typically possess an initial degree awarded by a recognised institution or appropriate professional qualification. 

Applications will be considered from graduates in a relevant subject, e.g. medicine, nursing or other healthcare professions, with an interest in and experience of occupational health services. Applicants without a degree, but with appropriate vocational qualifications, will also be considered.

The course will be delivered in a multi-professional environment. For this reason, applicants working in fields with more limited direct involvement with employee health issues will also be considered, e.g. trade union officers, human resource managers, scientists etc., subject to the same prior educational standards.


Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Student visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements.

Criminal convictions

You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course.

If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • access to computers or devices that can store images
  • use of internet and communication tools/devices
  • curfews
  • freedom of movement
  • contact with people related to Cardiff University.

Course structure

All students register initially for the MSc.

The programme consists of three stages:

Stage T1 (first taught stage)
This stage lasts for one academic year, and consists of three 20-credit modules, totalling 60 credits, at Level 7.

Stage T2 (second taught stage)
This stage lasts for one further academic year, to a total of 2 academic years for stages T1 and T2, and consists of a further three 20-credit modules to the value of 60 credits at Level 7, to achieve a total of 120 credits at Level 7.

Stage R: MSc research dissertation stage
This stage lasts for one further academic year, to a total of three academic years for the full MSc programme (stages T1, T2 and R), and includes a dissertation of 60 credits at Level 7, to achieve a total of 180 credits at Level 7 to complete the MSc programme.

The total normal duration to complete the full MSc programme (stages T1, T2 and R) is three academic years on a part-time basis, from the date of initial registration on the MSc programme.

You may exit after stage T1 with a Postgraduate Certificate, if you have gained at least 60 credits, only where this includes the award of credit for three particular modules.

You may exit after stage T2 with a Postgraduate Diploma, or progress to the MSc dissertation, if you have gained at least 120 credits, only where this includes the award of credit for four particular modules.

Your dissertation, normally be no longer than 20,000 words, will embody the results of your period of project work. 

The dissertation is worth 60 credits and, in combination with the PgCert/PgDip taught stages, will be weighted 50% for the purpose of calculating the final mark:

  • Taught modules (Stages T1 and T2 combined) 50%.
  • Dissertation (Stage R) 50%.

There are a range of optional and programme specific modules available. Your programme team will guide you in identifying and selecting the appropriate and available modules.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2022/23 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2022.

Year one

Year two

Year three

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

This course will be delivered by distance learning and therefore can be accessed by eligible students from anywhere within the international health care community. This also allows for flexibility of study to suit individual student needs. 

Teaching is through engagement with a variety of online activities including individual study of course material, group discussions, individual and group coursework, working through specially designed coursework and interactive materials. 

In addition, a three-day introductory course is available in Cardiff to provide a valuable opportunity to get to know the tutors and fellow students. 

The taught stages comprise six compulsory modules delivered over two years, three modules per year. In year three students undertake the research element of the course required for the award of an MSc.

The modules are delivered entirely via Learning Central, the University’s virtual learning environment. On Learning Central you will undertake self-directed learning based on the material provided for each module, participate in group activities such as an eConference, and collaborate with other students.

Studies at MSc dissertation level will largely consist of guided independent study and research, making use of the extensive learning and research facilities available. A project supervisor will be allocated to support and advise you on researching and writing up your specific dissertation topic.

How will I be assessed?

During the taught stages, formative assessment will include online discussions examining specific occupational health issues. Summative assessment will consist of written assignments examining aspects of occupational health theory and practice, enabling you to critically appraise the context and scientific literature, demonstrate a detailed understanding of the topic and reflect on how your new knowledge will affect your practice.

The MSc dissertation stage will be wholly assessed based on the final dissertation. 

During the dissertation stage you will be expected to keep in regular contact with your supervisor. You will also complete a progress report every two months in conjunction with your supervisor.

How will I be supported?

The MSc is delivered as a distance-learning programme via Cardiff University’s online learning environment, where you will find course materials, links to related materials and assessments. 

You will be allocated a personal tutor, for help and support with academic and pastoral needs, who you can contact to discuss progress and for advice and guidance as needed. Support will be provided wherever possible for students with additional learning needs. 


You will receive feedback throughout the course from their tutors. Formative feedback will be communicated through electronic and written means in a timely manner. Summative feedback on assessment will be delivered within the timeframes set by the University. 

What skills will I practise and develop?

By fully engaging in this course, you will have the opportunity to develop a wealth of skills and abilities you can apply to any professional setting. In addition to greater conceptual understanding of current knowledge, issues and methods, you will have the opportunity to practise and develop abilities in critical analysis, in the application of evidence based medicine and in dealing with complex issues systematically and creatively. Your studies should also help you develop your problem solving and decision making abilities by enabling you to utilise evidence effectively and communicate important concepts to colleagues and others. Through any research focused elements you will have the opportunity to develop and enhance skills in aspects such as literature review, critical evaluation, research design, research methodologies, data collection, data analysis and research principles.

After fully engaging in the taught stages of the course, you should be able to:

  • Articulate the general principles of clinical occupational health practice
  • Assess and control risks to health in different occupational settings
  • Explain the principles of law and ethics as applied to occupational health
  • Demonstrate essential skills in epidemiology, statistics and evidence based-practice
  • Manage occupational health services, including questions of fitness for work, sickness absence, rehabilitation and retirement
  • Acquire and apply knowledge and skills from selected specialist occupational health modules relating to topics including health promotion, mental health, environmental hazards and/or clinical practice
  • Demonstrate critical thinking and critical analysis of a level commensurate with Master’s level (QAA level 7) study
  • Demonstrate the ability to evaluate and apply new ideas and concepts to your own professional setting
  • Systematically review literature and other evidence sources demonstrating critical analysis, synthesis and reflection to evaluate the strength and provenance of evidence
  • Deal with complex issues systematically and creatively
  • Demonstrate problem solving and/or decision making abilities in utilising evidence effectively and communicating important concepts

On successful completion of the MSc you should also be able to:

  • Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of specialised and/or complex area(s) of study, and an ability to relate these to the subject chosen and your own professional context
  • Identify and explore a relevant topic and write a comprehensive project report that demonstrates good practice in research/audit and contributes to the development of the body of knowledge, clinical or professional practice in the field
  • Describe clearly the work carried out supported by cogent, evidence-based arguments to corroborate the conclusions drawn
  • Explain clearly the methods used in the project and justify the choice of methods based on available evidence and logical argument

Tuition fees for 2022 entry

Students from the UK

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £5,100 £1,000

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss national, unless you qualify for UK fee status, tuition fees will be in line with the fees charged for international students. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.

Students from the rest of the world (international)

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £8,200 £1,000

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Financial support

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Additional costs

Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?

You will need a reliable computer with high speed Internet access (and up-to-date virus and malware protection) and appropriate software.

Living costs

We’re based in one of the UK’s most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.

Career prospects

The programme focuses on evidence-based practice and practical solutions in the workplace and so provides the opportunity to gain a sound basis of knowledge for occupational health practice, whatever your background, and demonstrates a commitment to your own further professional development in this and allied  areas.

For qualified doctors wanting to enter specialist training in occupational medicine, the Postgraduate Diploma stage of the course will provide knowledge of the bulk of the topics needed for part 1 of the Membership Exam of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (MFOM). Further information on specialist training can be found on the Faculty of Occupational Medicine Website.

Please note that the programme does not contribute to specialist accreditation for nurses.

"”Key to me attending was that the MSc was open to non-clinicians and, as the course was delivered by distance-learning, my employer was keen to support my development in the field of occupational health. The course provided me with exposure to occupational health nurses and doctors in a non-regulatory setting and the online e-conference interactions with fellow students provides an insight into some of the more practical aspects of occupational health.

My employer has benefited as my dissertation enabled me to conduct research in an area that has helped improve our understanding of a very niche area of occupational health. For me personally it has been hard work but it has also been an enjoyable learning experience and I would recommend people attend the MSc.”

Andrew, regulatory scientist


UK Government master’s funding

If you are starting your master’s degree in September 2021 or later, you may be able to apply for UK Government postgraduate funding to support your study at Cardiff University.

Next steps


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HESA data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2020. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18, published by HESA in June 2020.