Master of Public Health (NQF Level 9)

The Master of Public Health (MPH) aims to equip graduates to: identify, quantify and prioritise health needs at the population level; design, implement and evaluate Public Health interventions or programmes and policies; demonstrate leadership in transforming aspects of the health services and system; and to conduct related research.

For the coursework & a mini-thesis, the MPH Programme is made up of eight coursework modules, six compulsory components (which includes two research methodology modules), two electives and a mini-thesis. See programme handbook for the description of the modules.

The Master Of Public Health consists of:

  • six 15 credit Core (compulsory modules),
  • two 15 credit Electives
  • and a 60 credit Mini-thesis.


Population Health and Development: A Primary Health Care Approach II (SPH855)

This module focuses on the determinants of health in Africa and the burden and pattern of disease across the continent. Issues related to causation, health inequity and the relationship between health and development are discussed in terms of population health and planning Public Health interventions.

The module introduces the Comprehensive Primary Health Care approach which has been designed to address the implications of the underlying determinants of health. In addition, the module explores key issues to be considered in relation to health policy, finances and human resources when establishing a Comprehensive PHC (CPHC) approach to health and health care at district level.

MODE OF DELIVERY: Blended learning plus Short Course at Summer School.

ASSESSMENT: Two assignments.

Measuring Health & Disease II (SPH856)

This module aims to enhance the measurement skills essential for effective Public Health practice. It examines several key concepts, methods and the role of Epidemiology in Public Health. It provides a variety of tools for the assessment and interpretation of health problems. It is intended to enable professionals working in the health sector to bring a critical and analytical insight into Public Health decision-making.

The module consists of six units divided into 4-7 study sessions, one for each topic. The course explores the nature of epidemiological health information, the natural history of disease, Epi Info, causation, study design, infectious diseases, outbreaks, screening and surveillance, the interpretation of data, representation of health information and reporting on an epidemiological event.

MODE OF DELIVERY: Blended learning, online learning and a Summer School Short Course in Semester 1. This is a complex module if you do not have prior experience in biostatistics or the use of an analytical computer package such as Epi Info.

ASSESSMENT: Two assignments including an epidemiological report based on a raw data set provided by your lecturers. You will be required to use the computer Programme, Epi Info, to analyse and interpret this data set.

Management Strategies for the Public Health Services II (SPH857)

This module was developed in recognition of the fact that health professionals often hold significant management responsibilities, often without even being called a manager. The module locates management as a key role in relation to health systems strengthening and places emphasis on reflecting on your own management practices and how to improve these.

Important themes in this module are managing by leading, and organisational change as the ongoing context in which managers are  required to lead. The teaching focus aims to help you understand your own role as a leader and manager in the context of the public health system, to strengthen your capacity to analyse everyday management and service delivery problems, and to offer guided opportunities to plan improvements which address such problems. Aspects of managing relationships with people are included as well as an appreciation of systems requirements for managing information, finances and other resources to achieve better  health.

PRESCRIBED TEXT: Mintzberg, H. (2011). Managing. San Francisco: BK Publishers. Cost: approx R220 via Amazon Books (to be purchased online). MODE OF DELIVERY: Blended learning, online learning and the Short Winter School Course in Semester 2.

ASSESSMENT: Two assignments.

Health Promotion for Public Health II (SPH859)

This module aims to provide the learner with a theoretical understanding of Health Promotion as well as some practical skills in planning and implementing effective and appropriate Health Promotion Programmes and activities.

The sessions focus on interrogating the main theories of Health Promotion and their application in an underdeveloped country context, outlining the approaches commonly taken in successful Health Promotion Programmes from international examples, and providing the learner with some tools for planning, managing and evaluating district or regional multi-sectoral Programmes. A district-based Programme development case study is used as a teaching tool within the module.

MODE OF DELIVERY: Blended learning and the Summer School short course in Semester 1. The course is offered through a Module Guide, Readings and Additional Resources.

ASSESSMENT: Two assignments.

Qualitative Research Methods (SPH860)

This module aims to develop an understanding of the philosophical and methodological foundations of qualitative approaches to research; more importantly, it aims to develop the capacity to practise and apply its methods to a selected research problem. By the end of the module, students should have sufficient competency and understanding of the approach to develop a qualitative research protocol and after approval, to implement a study addressing a Public Health problem of their choice.

PREREQUISITE: Students are required to take this module after completing the

Public Health Research module.

By the end of this module students should be able to:

  • Present a rationale for choosing a qualitative research for a research problem in terms of the theoretical (philosophical) underpinnings of qualitative
  • Demonstrate awareness of the kinds of problems or questions bestaddressed by qualitative
  • Engage in flexible (qualitative) research design showing an understanding of the stages of design, characteristics, purpose and application of qualitative research This will include the following outcomes:
    • Describe a research problem and its Public Health context;
    • Develop a study aim and objectives;
    • Identify the information and the data sources which will be required to address this
    • Develop tools for collecting data from these
    • Select and provide a rationale for data collection techniques
    • Practice three data collection
  • Propose a data collection sample and provide a rationale for
  • Propose the intended process of analysis, provide a rationale for these choices and practice the
  • Describe the purpose and process of different approaches to qualitative
  • Present a logically argued plan for ensuring rigour of the
  • Describe and use ethical procedures in qualitative
  • Analyse and discuss examples of selected qualitative approaches and critique their design and
  • Present a logically argued plan for ensuring rigour in your

PRESCRIBED TEXT: Colin Robson. Real World Research, (2016). John Wiley and Co.

MODE OF DELIVERY: Blended learning and short course at Summer school in Semester 1.

ASSESSMENT: Two assignments.

Public Health Research (SPH862)

This module expands your knowledge on the types and design of quantitative research studies including data collection and data management using basic statistics, and measures of association, statistical testing, and sample size and power. The student will get an understanding of the ethical concepts in research with human subjects. The student will be given the opportunity to apply the concepts of validity, reliability and precision for quantitative study design. The student will also be given the opportunity to apply their knowledge in writing a research proposal or report.

At the end of this module students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate understanding of the ethical principles for conducting research with human
  • Distinguish between the designs of the most common types of quantitative research
  • Define and identify association, causation, bias and confounding within the context of quantitative
  • Apply concepts of validity, reliability and precision within the context of quantitative
  • Apply basic data collection, data management, data handling and project management for quantitative
  • Analyse and interpret health data using basic biostatistics and statistical computing
  • Define and apply the basic elements of a research proposal and research

PRESCRIBED TEXT: Designing and Conducting Health Systems Research Projects Volume I: Proposal Development and Fieldwork – Corlien M. Varkevisser, Indra Pathmanathan & Ann Brownlee (available online).

MODE OF DELIVERY: Summer School short course in Semester 1 as well as Blended learning.

ASSESSMENT: Two assignments.

  1. An Honours degree, Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health or equivalent at NQF Level 8 in any relevant discipline.
  2. (Coursework & Mini Thesis), a minimum of three years working in the health, social development or related sectors, with relevant experience in implementing policy or planning and managing health, development and/or related sector services.
  3. For those students who do not have credit for a tertiary level course in disease pathogenesis, disease measurement or disease control, they are required to take School’s module, Introducing Public Health: its Basis and Scope from the PG Diploma in Public Health programme, and complete a task before or during their first semester in Year 1 of their studies.
Considering the School of Public Health, UWC as a place of learning

Before embarking on an application we suggest that you find out a bit more about the School and consider whether there is a congruency between the Schools’ vision and orientation towards public health and your own capacity building needs in the public health field.  We suggest you take a look at our latest biennial report and the FAQs related to our MPH programme to provide you with this orientation

The Application Process
  • The first step you need to take is to apply online through the UWC website: Applications will open in May and they will close at the end of September. Please take note of your application number that you will receive from UWC once you have made this initial application to the University.

  • Once you have made this online application through the UWC website, you will receive an acknowledgement from the School of Public Health. We will then provide you with a link to the SOPH online application form. which we require all applicants to complete.

  • Applicants should start the UWC (general) and SOPH (specific) online application process as early as possible in order to have enough time to be able to complete the necessary application forms, the motivation document and to gather all the necessary and certified documentation together (including leaving time to apply for SAQA clearance certification for all non-South African qualifications).
  • Your application to the University of the Western Cape (general application) and your application to the School of Public Health (specific application & motivation), must be completed on or before the 30 September deadline. This includes the uploading of all relevant documentation onto both the UWC and SOPH online application sites. Applications received after the closing date will not be considered.
  • Please do not email any of the required documentation to the SOPH – all applications have to be completed and uploaded through the UWC and the SOPH online application platforms.