This one-year course has an orientation towards the interpretation of quantitative, epidemiological data, reflecting the strengths of Imperial College, but nevertheless also explores the cultural, economic, geographical and social processes and contexts which influence health outcomes and the practice of medicine across the world.  

The course comprises a two-week introductory foundation course followed by three 5-week taught modules, and subsequently either a research project or a specialist course (two 5-week modules) depending on each student’s preference.

Students' also have the opportunity to be nominated for two prizes at the end of the academic year; the Julia Buckingham Prize will be awarded to the best performing student on the course and The School of Public Health Project Prize is awarded to the student with the highest scoring project. Find out more about what the course involves and how you can apply, in the information provided below:

Course modules

Module one | Infectious Diseases

Module title:

Infectious Diseases: New and old - Major Threats, Transmission, Molecular Epidemiology, Control

Module leaders:

Dr Graham Cooke and Professor Helen Ward


This module will provide a broad overview of the challenge posed by infectious diseases to global health. Formal teaching will cover the major diseases faced by the global health community, disease burden and approaches to the control of disease. The course will be structured around different modes of disease transmission to link more clearly with areas of environmental health and health policy later in the course.

Indicative content:

Global burden and surveillance of infectious disease, including methods for describing and comparing; emerging infectious disease, introduction to modelling, vaccination, antibiotic resistance; control of schistosomiasis and other neglected tropical diseases: experience of the SCI; current topics in HIV, TB and malaria; anthropology; STI, migration and health; refugees and migrants.

In-course assessments:

There will be two in course assessments within module 1 as outlined below:

  • Essay on global health topic:

    Students will be provided with an essay title before the end of the first week of the module. The title will be chosen to reflect a major issue on the control of infectious diseases and give the students the opportunity to draw in information from a range of sources, not just taught material in the course. One of the key learning objectives of setting an essay is to give students practice at essay writing, with essays forming a key part of the final examination.

  • Critical appraisal of papers:

    There will be a taught session within the module on how to approach critical appraisal of a new paper in a structured way. The second in course assessment will be a critical appraisal project. Candidates will be presented with the first half of a paper including introduction, methods and results. They will be asked to interpret the data and write a brief discussion on the findings. This will provide some preparation for the final exam which has a data handling question.

Module two | Non-Infectious Diseases

Module title:

Non-Infections Diseases: The Challenges of New Epidemics - Obesity, Diabetes, Tobacco and Environmental Hazards; from Discovery of Causes to Governance

Module leader:

Paolo Vineis


Most topics will be treated according to the following scheme: introductory lecture, reading of one paper and discussion in a seminar, methodological practical session on study design and statistical approach. Key articles from journals and books will be discussed in seminars, which involve some group work. The practicals will also allow you to explore issues in more depth; find and assess evidence; and practice data handling.

Indicative content:

Global burden of non-infectious diseases, including methods for describing and comparing; descriptive epidemiology by geographic area; ethnicity; rates in migrants; trends; the epidemics of obesity and diabetes nutritional epidemiology and the metabolic syndrome; malnutrition; tobacco-related diseases and tobacco control; environmental exposures in developed and developing countries; climate change and its effects on health; adaptation to climate change; the interplay between genes and the environment; preventive strategies and policies.

In-course assessments:

There will be two in course assessments within module 2 as outlined below.

  • Short essay on country health profile:

    Students should individually submit online an independent written essay on the country profile of their choice. Country profiles refer to the main health indicators for a country, or a more specific topic such as recent changes in disease rates, or peculiarities in disease occurrence (e.g. obesity in Tonga). Essays should be no more than 2500 words; penalties will be applied for longer texts.
  • Data interpretation exercise:

    Each student will receive a simple set of data and they will be required to describe and interpret them in a written form.

Module three | Global Health in Context

Module title

Global Health in Context: Poverty, Development and Governance

Module leader:

Dr Mariam Sbaiti


Contemporary issues and controversies in global health, including governance and the role of different actors, will be covered. This will include the roles of health policy analysis, power and values in global health governance, as well as tools used to assess health needs.

Indicative content:

The Primary Health care approach; the components, aims and functions of a health system; using evidence for health and health system policy including in resource-poor settings (demographic, developmental, economic, cultural, political and organisational); access to health care and the implications for policy, with reference to different financing mechanisms; the eco-social approach to determinants of health; technologies for advances in Global Health; inter-sectoral collaboration for Global health advances; aid effectiveness; providing healthcare to vulnerable populations; critically appraising systematic reviews relevant to Global Health

In-course assessments:

There are two in course assessments within module 3 as outlined below:

  • Essay:

    Involves students producing a commentary on a global health policy issue.
  • Data interpretation exercise:

    In-class test during which students will be given an unseen Systematic Review. The CASP Review Checklist will be given as a structure to answer questions relating to the critical appraisal of this paper.
Two recent graduates from Imperial College London's BSc in Global Health discuss their experiences on the course.

Why should you choose this course?

Many graduates from the programme take the course simply out of an interest in global health issues, but nevertheless, pursue mainstream medical careers such as general practice or typical biomedical science careers such as laboratory haematology. There are a number of graduates from the course who go on to pursue careers in global health such as academic research.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

How does this course compare to others around the country?

The last decade has seen a dramatic increase in Global Health BSc courses similar to this one. This was the result of successful advocacy by students, student organisations such as Students for Global Health and supportive academics around the country who were willing to include global health in the undergraduate curriculum.

Global Health BSc 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 is based in the School of Public Health. Its strengths include orientation towards research skills and experiential learning in Global Health. Students are taught by world-leading researchers in international public health and epidemiology and are introduced to basic research methods from the start of the course. Research Methods are developed and assessed throughout the course. Additionally, through immersion in community group projects, student develop key reflective and public health evaluation 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 12 week block.

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

How big is the class?

We have between 30 and 40 students a year.

Where is teaching based?

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.

How many external places are available?

For 2019-20, there are 12 external places. We usually have 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?

The course has always had a focus on active earning. However, we are currently undergoing a curriculum review which aims to transform the course so that most learning objectives will be delivered through active, student-centered learning methods. This means that for the academic year 2019-20, we will be in an interim phase where parts of our contents will be traditional lectures by leading academics, and others will involve innovative teaching methods such as flipped classrooms, seminars, team-based learning and experiential learning blended learning... A novel component is the community group placements in Module 2. These take an experiential learning approach and aim to equip students with Public Health-related and transferrable skills.

We encourage students to approach the course as active learners and expect that students engage with the teaching activities, preparation tasks and with teamwork activities. One aim of the course is to learn to ask critical questions, take part in discussions and construct arguments in debates.

The Global Health BSc also includes a Small Group Tutorial scheme. Meetings run fortnightly and aim to provide a supportive space for students to discuss any reflections or ideas that may come up throughout the course of the year. The role of tutorials is mostly to support students in their learning experience, ensure they know where to access pastoral support, debrief and share reflections from the work undertaken during community group projects.

How is the course assessed?

As of the academic year 2019-20, the course will be assessed solely through coursework only and examinations will not be used. Coursework includes press release writing, vlog submissions, group presentations (Community Group Placement), BSc Project report, group work on peer review process of a literature review task, and individual oral presentation (BSc Project).

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 also 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. A minority of 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.

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 institutions (LSHTM, KCL, UCL, LSE, SOAS etc.). There are also many relevant organisations based in London, for example, previous students have volunteered at Clinic London with Doctors of the World.

How do I keep in touch?

Follow @GH_BSc on twitter.

If you are an alumnus, please join our Facebook group for Global Health BSc Alumni to keep in touch with news including forthcoming reunions.

If you have any further questions contact course lead Dr Mariam Sbaiti.