The Global Health BSc is a one-year course aims to equip students with the skills and concepts to navigate a range of quantitative and social sciences disciplines that contribute to global health scholarship. The course has an orientation towards the interpretation of quantitative and epidemiological evidence in global health, reflecting the strengths of Imperial College. However, it also explores the cultural, economic, geographical and social processes and contexts which determine health outcomes across the world. Crucially, the course aims to develop students’ critical thinking skills, and the skills and values required to reflective leadership and collaboration.

The course comprises three modules spread from September to May.

Module 1 (‘Global health in dynamic world’) is the core taught module that takes place in the first term (September to mid-December).

Module 2 includes two components (Community Group Placements and Critical Summary of the Task or Literature Review ) which are based on experiential learning and active small-group learning respectively.

During Module 3, students spend 13 weeks within a research team, developing and completing a scientific research project investigating a current issue in global health issue. This module also has an experiential learning basis and students often find this a highlight of the course, having developed a rich skillset for research. Many of our students go on to publish their work. Projects span epidemiology and public health including quantitative and qualitative, or policy aspects of the field.

Course modules

Module one | Global health in a dynamic world

This is the core taught module which mixes didactic lectures and innovative teaching methods. We invite experts in their field from Imperial College, other academic institutions and relevant civil society organisations such as Médecins Sans Frontières. Alumni tell us that this is a real highlight of the course which allows them to engage with a real range of contemporary Global Health issues and concepts.

As part of the recent curriculum review, we have included innovative assessments, with a focus on authenticity. Students will have the opportunity to develop and practice their skills for scientific writing, conference presentations and analyse and interpret real Global Health “field” data and appreciate the importance of learning about the rich context of global health data.

Module 1 includes 3 themes:

Causes of disease, morbidity and mortality (Mondays): communicable and non-communicable causes and contributors to global ill health and evidence and interventions for these

Skills and Methods for Global Health (Tuesdays): Data, methods and critical appraisal of evidence generated for global health

Global Health Governance (Fridays): Global health frameworks and institutions, systems, policies and financing

Module two | Self-directed learning in small groups (Critical Summary of the Task/Literature Review) and individual CGP report

Module 2 a: Critical Summary of the Task or Literature Review task in small groups

This module will provide students with an in-depth understanding of evidence synthesis and its role in guiding interventions and policy. In small groups, the students will gain hands-on experience in conducting their own critical summary of the literature and going through a peer review process.

Module 2b: Community Group Placements (CGP)

Our Community Group Placement scheme will contextualise much of the students’ learning and thinking on the Global Health pathway overall. It provides a platform for students to build and finesse the skills and behaviours that students will need to work effectively in a public health or global health environment.

Our CGP partner organisations are all community-based organisations (CBO) working with our local communities across London. London faces huge challenges in terms of poverty and inequality, reflecting both the opportunities and challenges facing global health. You can read more about this in the summary of our Impact Afternoon event held in 2019 and 2020.

Module three | BSc Research project

This is a self-directed research project exploring a global health question.  This involves carrying out research in a field related to Global Health to enable students  to  learn  about  scientific  inquiry,  and  the  skills  of planning, carrying out a research project, and analysis interpretation and dissemination of evidence. Projects are a highlight of the course because they provide experiential learning in research, embedded within existing research teams, and most GH BSc courses in the country do not provide this level of research experience. Learn more about previous research projects.

Choosing a project

Students are offered a list of projects in November and are required to apply for their top 6 choices, submitting short application statements. Please visit the Students research projects page for details on choosing a project.

Community Groups Placements (CGP) experiences

In the year 2019/20, we had, students placed in groups of 2-3 placed at 10 Community based organisations (Addison Community Champions (Urban Partnership Group – UPG, Baraka Youth Association, Disability Advice Service Lambeth (dasl), Foundation for women’s health, research and development (FORWARD), Hammersmith Community Gardens Association, Myatt’s Fields Park Project, One Westminster, The Abbey Centre - Abbey Community Association Limited, Young Brent Foundation and Young Hammersmith & Fulham Foundation.

Primary care services are facing increasing pressures and cannot address the complex health needs of populations in Hammersmith. 

By Amelia Kataria Golestaneh, a medical student from University of Liverpool, an intercalating BSc Global Health student at Imperial (2019/20).

Amelia Kataria GolestanehI was placed at the Hammersmith Community Gardens Association (HCGA) for the Community Group Placement module. As part of the evaluation, I focused on certain cohorts within the local population (school children participating in the educational initiatives of HCGA and socially disadvantaged adults with long-term unemployment or mental health) within the Wormholt and White City ward, an area of North West London facing widespread deprivation.

Amelia’s Evaluation & Recommendations

The CBO engages with the aforementioned populations through projects which are assets to the local community and encourages personal growth, social cohesion and environmental responsibility. At the end of the placement, I proposed, 1) increasing health promotion initiatives for schoolchildren and their parents through specific newsletters and sessions with parental involvement, and 2) progress reviews for participants through a combination of the existing questionnaire and an evaluation tool, conducted with HCGA staff members, which could benefit these adults in the long-term. While there are numerous challenges regarding funding in the voluntary sector, I strongly believe that Social Prescribing is an important area in health that requires the rebranding and reshaping of how health professionals assess need and target more deprived populations in a sustainable and equitable way. 

What Amelia learnt from this opportunity

The placement has vastly aided my understanding of Social Prescribing and the importance of creating a cultural change for activism that is values based. The role of Social Prescribing, in my opinion, is crucial to how we can better manage complex patient situations that are often inadequately managed in primary care due to short appointments, stretched resources and sometimes a lack of coordination with other services. This is an area of medicine which requires thoughtful teaching permeating into medical school curriculums, reimagining of how we perceive ‘hard to reach’ populations, and a concerted effort as a multidisciplinary health team is more important than ever.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

How does this course compare to others around the country?

The last decade has seen several new Global Health courses similar to this, emerge around the UK. This was the result of successful advocacy by students, student organisations such as Students for Global Health and supportive academics around the UK who were willing to develop the global health undergraduate curriculum.

Global Health courses vary in their focus and disciplinary approaches and this is partly dependent on the departments involved in teaching. Some have a stronger focus on International Development whilst others focus more on Humanitarian / Health System themes. This also highlights the varied understandings of Global Health as a field of study.

The BSc at Imperial College London is based within the School of Public Health. Its strengths include research skills and experiential learning in Global Health. Students are taught by a wide range of world-leading researchers in international public health and epidemiology, as well as being introduced to critical debates in the field. Students become familiar with core research methods from the start of the course and these are developed and assessed through authentic real-life scenarios, throughout the course. Since 2018, the Community Group Placement allows students to develop practical skills whilst working in collaboration with a volunteering sector organisation across London. In these, students develop key evaluation, collaboration and leadership skills through experiential or service-based learning.

Finally, Global Health BSc research projects are an important and unique feature of the course, providing students with an opportunity to work within a research team, receiving close supervision, for a full-time 15 week block.

The course also explores the anthropological, sociological, economic, and geographical perspectives in Global Health.

How big is the class?

We have between 25 and 40 students a year.

Where is teaching based?

Usually, most sessions are based at the Medical School Building on St Mary's campus (Paddington), though sometimes, sessions will be held at other Imperial College campuses if required.

Please note that the Autumn term of 2020 will be mostly delivered remotely.
Learn more about adaptations to the Global Health BSc following COVID-19.

How many external places are available?

For 2020-21, there are 15 external places. We usually have an applicants : places ratio of around 1.5. Applicants are selected based on five areas which are equally weighted: academic performance, interest in global health, research experience, academic reference and transferrable skills.

How is teaching delivered?

Please go to our Learning and teaching on the GH BSc page to read more about our approach to learning and teaching global health through a blend of active and innovative learning methods, traditional didactic to lectures by experts in the field, and experiential learning. You can also read about how we involve alumni in our course design.

How is the course assessed?

As of the academic year 2019-20, the course is assessed solely through coursework. There are no traditional written examinations. Coursework includes writing a commentary to a published article, making and presenting e-poster, Summarising data analysis results, drafting a press release, making a policy brief, a Global Health case report (Community Group Placement), group work on drafting and peer reviewing literature review piece, a BSc Project report (of 5000-7000 words), and individual reflective oral presentation (based on the selected BSc Project). 

There are:

  • 3 assessments in module 1 (A1 and A2 constitute 10 15% each and A3 constitute to 70% of module 1 marks) which constitute to 30% of overall BSc marks,
  • 2 assessments in module 2 (A4 and A5 constitute to 60% and 40% marks of module 2 marks) which constitute to 25% of overall BSc marks, and
  • 2 assessments in module 3 (A6 and A7 constitute to 78% and 22% of Module 3 marks) which constitutes to 45% of overall BSc marks.

Who teaches on the course?

The Global Health BSc director and Module leads will teach some of the course content. The course also includes a wide range of other teachers such as colleagues from the Departments of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Institute of Global Health Innovation, Centre for Health Policy, academics from other institutions and partners from civil society organisations (e.g. Médecins Sans Frontières). We also involve alumni in our teaching.

Is there a lot of reading to do on the course?

The course requires students to engage with written materials as well as other sources of information. The reading is intended to feed into seminars, interactive sessions and assignments. Therefore, we encourage students to engage with the material and search for information independently.

Overall, students usually find that they do more reading than is generally required in their previous undergraduate years. However, we encourage focused reading approaches and discourage students from “rote learning”. Rather we encourage students to seek and read information strategically and critically interpret their reading.

As part of this, students will be encouraged to read some texts from a range of disciplines, including the social sciences and humanities, which may be less familiar to them.  Some students take some time to adjust to the volumes of reading. However most find it very rewarding to learn to read in a different way. Support is available through Module leads and Small Group Tutorials as thinking critically and engaging with literature is one of the components of the transformative learning nature of the course.

Studying Global Health in London

Students who intercalate in Global Health in London have a large variety of opportunities to attend free lectures at a range of other London-based institutions (LSHTM, KCL, UCL, LSE, SOAS). There are also many relevant organisations based in London, for example, previous students have volunteered at Clinic London with Doctors of the World.

London also provides the opportunity to work with local third sector oragnisations such as through the Community Group Placement scheme.

Students in the academic year 2020/21 will have the option of being based away from London for the autumn term (the remainder of the year will be confirmed soon). Please visit our Adaptations due to Covid19 page for an update on adjustments to teaching in relation to COVID-19.

We also have a college wide page with all the required information for all students of Imperial College run at the college level for latest college guidance based on the government regulations in response to COVID situation.

How to apply

Find out more about what the course involves and how you can apply on the main BSc Intercalated page.

How do I keep in touch?

Follow us on twitter at @GH_BSc.

If you are an alumnus, please join our Facebook group for Global Health BSc Alumni to keep in touch with news including forthcoming reunions. Imperial College has a platform for college wide alumni from all courses which has lots of opportunities for alumni at college level. For details please visit Imperial Plexus page.

If you have any further questions contact our course coordinator or course lead see details on the Main page.