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News / October 23, 2008

New course aims to improve NI

by Guy Hiscott

Queen’s University in Belfast is offering a valuable opportunity to learn from different public health perspectives through a new course.

The University is now running an MSc in Public Health following the recent launch of the £5m UKCRC Centre of Excellence for Public Health (Northern Ireland), which is hosted by Queen’s.

The new degree is one of the ways in which the Centre is working towards an increased public health capacity within Northern Ireland to help address complex population-level health issues.

The development and delivery of the course is based upon partnerships between several Schools at Queen’s, the Institute of Public Health in Ireland, public health practitioners and senior health and social care managers in Northern Ireland.

The course aims to provide learners with a public health knowledge and skills base, as a foundation for further specialist training and career opportunities in public health practice or academic research. 

It is also designed to help students challenge existing ideas and develop a critical thinking and problem-solving approach.

The first 10 students took part in an introductory ‘public health walk’ around Belfast. The walking tour started at the Health Promotion Agency NI, at the site of the former Ormeau Road Baths.
Professor Frank Kee, director of the Centre of Excellence for Public Health (Northern Ireland), said: ‘Specialist public health practice focuses on the interrelated and interdependent individual, social, and environmental factors that influence health at a population-level.

‘This new course will help support evidence-based public health practice, which requires robust information on which “modifiable” determinants of health can be positively influenced, and the most effective methods.’

Modules include:
• Public health sciences
• Determinants of health and disease
• Population and health assessment
• Health improvement
• Health protection
• Health and social care systems.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the course should contact course director Dr Dermot O’Reilly ( or course co-ordinator Dr William Moore (