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Occupational Health (Policy and Practice) (MSc)

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 e-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 on-line 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 MSc course is delivered online and so can more easily fit into your own schedule and study style.
  • Subject to sufficient student interest, a short introductory course is also held in Cardiff.
  • The MSc contains an emphasis on practical solutions.

Key facts

Next intakeSeptember 2019
Duration3 years
ModePart-time - distance learning

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.

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements

All students register initially for the MSc.

The MSc 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 at least to the value of 60 credits at Level 7, to achieve a total of at least 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 at least 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 (PgCert), 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 (PgDip), 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, which will normally be no longer than 20,000 words and supported by such other material as may be considered appropriate to the subject, will embody the results of your period of project work. The subject of each student’s dissertation will be approved by the Chair of the Board of Studies concerned or his/her nominee.

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 2019/20 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2019.

Year one

Year two

Module titleModule codeCredits
Occupational Health Processes and ManagementMET43420 credits

Year three

Module titleModule codeCredits
Dissertation: Occupational Health (Policy and Practice)MET15160 credits
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.

How will I be taught?

Students undertake six modules of 20 credit points each to complete the taught stages. 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. Students also receive regular constructive feedback to stimulate their enthusiasm and provide support. 

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. Support will be provided wherever possible for students with additional learning needs. 

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.  It is therefore strongly recommended that all students register to attend this so that the course team know there are sufficient numbers to enable them to run it. 

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 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. 

All students are 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. 


Students 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.

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 the student to critically appraise the context and scientific literature, demonstrate a detailed understanding of the topic and reflect on how their new knowledge will affect their practice.

The MSc dissertation stage will be wholly assessed based on the final dissertation. Expectations for the format, submission and marking of the dissertation will follow the current Senate Assessment Regulations, supplemented where appropriate with additional requirements of the Programme/School/College and any specific requirements arising from the nature of the project undertaken.

During the Master’s 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.


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. 

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 the area.

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.


Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2019/20)

Tuition feeDepositNotes

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

EU students entering in 2019/20 will pay the same tuition fee as UK students for the duration of their course. Please be aware that fees may increase annually in line with inflation. No decisions regarding fees and loans for EU students starting in 2020/21 have been made yet. These will be determined as part of the UK's discussions on its membership of the EU and we will provide further details as soon as we can.

Students from outside the EU (2019/20)

Tuition feeDepositNotes

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

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.