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Global health, law and governance (MSc)

  • Attendance Based
  • Part Time
  • Full Time

Global public health has become a subject of study across several disciplines, including biomedicine, political economy, sociology and anthropology, epidemiology and statistics, health services research, and policy studies. Law has also been amongst these, but has rarely been the focus of dedicated study in the context of global public health. Yet legal frameworks and instruments continue to evolve and to shape and influence both the content and delivery of standards and policy goals.

This programme analyses the key international organisations and legal instruments that influence national public health policies. It critically examines the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) and key international conventions and protocols. This programme will appeal to all those with an involvement in health policy and health systems, including medical practitioners, civil servants, lawyers, social and political scientists, and NGO workers, amongst others. It will interest policy makers who want to understand the bigger picture about global health and will feature prominent key speakers from the likes of WHO, WTO, and the medical profession.

On completion of this course, students will have developed the skills and knowledge to work in health and public policy at local, national, and international level, and in governmental and international bodies and NGOs, or undertake further postgraduate research.

This programme will:

  • Introduce students to key international frameworks and instruments in global health
  • Analyse international legal processes and regimes which are leading to global standard-setting and influence over national public health policies.
  • Focus on international legal instruments across human rights, trade, and environmental sectors that are particularly relevant for public health.
  • Critically examine the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, and key international conventions and protocols.
  • Incorporate global governance and global health governance, helping set the frame for how governance interfaces with the making of laws (and also regulatory regimes and treaties) and their enforcement or implementation.

Why study your MSc in Global Health, Law and Governance at Queen Mary?

This programme is a collaboration between the Schools of Medicine and Dentistry and Law. Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry is comprised of two world renowned teaching hospitals, St Bartholomew’s and The Royal London, which have made, and continue to make, an outstanding contribution to modern medicine. We were one of the top five in the UK for medicine, in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise.

The School of Law at Queen Mary University of London has been ranked 3rd in the UK and 1st in London in the Guardian University Guide 2015 subject league tables.

Within the School of Law at Queen Mary, there are two partners, the Department of Law and the Centre for Commercial Law Studies (CCLS). The Department of Law was established in 1965 and covers the full spectrum of legal studies. The Centre for Commercial Law Studies focuses strongly on the global development of international commercial law.

The Global Public Health Unit combines the local and the global in a stimulating and challenging research and teaching environment – we have strong links to the NHS, local authorities, numerous third-sector organisations in east London, senior policymakers in the UK, and leading international figures in global health.

  • The MSc programmes study global health from a diverse multidisciplinary perspective, with teaching led by public health consultants, lawyers, sociologists, geographers, and economists.
  • You will learn on a truly multidisciplinary programme, which exposes you to a range of disciplines, giving you a genuinely broad education and a wide perspective.
  • With this multidisciplinary approach, you will gain critical insight and applied skills necessary for management, persuasion, and advocacy.
  • We integrate different types of teaching delivery with a focus on small group seminars, so you will develop debating and discussion skills, and have plenty of contact with academics.
  • We work from the local to the global– the Global Public Health Unit is based in Whitechapel in London's East End, and has close links to NHS organisations, local authorities, and the voluntary sector in one of London's most diverse and complex areas.
  • We have collaborations with other universities and organisations from around the world to aid research, teaching, policy development, and community engagement.
  • We encourage students to get involved in both our local and international work.


The Learning Resource centre has 200 networked PCs and is open to students round the clock, there are dedicated workstations for postgraduate students.

You will also have access to Queen Mary’s comprehensive libraries, including the Postgraduate Reading Room, and The British Library can also be accessed as a research resource.

You will have access to a range of specialist facilities including: medical libraries located at the Royal London and St Bart's hospitals and at the main College campus at Mile End.

Is this the right programme for me?

This programme will appeal to all those - medical practitioners, civil servants, lawyers, social and political scientists, and NGO workers – with an involvement in health policy and health systems. We would like to see doctors and lawyers study together on the same programme.

What will I go on to do after this programme?

Students will have the skills and knowledge to work in health and public policy at local, national, and international level, and in governmental and international bodies and NGOs. On completion of this MSc you may decide to

  • continue your research skills through academic study via a PhD
  • work in central and local government, public health and other health care, an international organisation, or in NGOs

Entry requirements

You will normally need at least a 2.1 honours degree or GPA 3.2/4.0 or GPA 3.4/5.0 or equivalent in a relevant subject, such as medicine, the health sciences, nursing or the social sciences. We also welcome applications from those who have studied a less directly related subject at undergraduate level, but who can demonstrate interest and motivation in this area.

You should have IELTS 7.0 or PTE academic 68, with IELTS 6.5 or PTE 62 in writing.

International applicants

Students from outside of the UK help form a global community here at Queen Mary. For detailed country specific entry requirements please visit the International section of our website. If your first language is not English, you must provide evidence of your English language proficiency.

Find out more about our English language entry requirements.

If you do not meet language or scholarly requirements it might be possible for you to undertake foundation or pre-sessional programmes that will prepare you for the masters programme. For more information, please contact the Admissions Office.

Learning and teaching

As a student at Queen Mary, you will play an active part in your acquisition of skills and knowledge. Teaching is by a mixture of formal lectures and small group seminars. The seminars are designed to generate informed discussion around set topics, and may involve student presentations, group exercise and role-play as well as open discussion. We take pride in the close and friendly working relationship we have with our students. You are assigned an Academic Adviser who will guide you in both academic and pastoral matters throughout your time at Queen Mary.

Independent Study

For every hour spent in classes you will be expected to complete further hours of independent study. Your individual study time could be spent preparing for, or following up on formal study sessions; reading; producing written work; completing projects; and revising for examinations.

The direction of your individual study will be guided by the formal study sessions you attend, along with your reading lists and assignments. However, we expect you to demonstrate an active role in your own learning by reading widely and expanding your own knowledge, understanding and critical ability.

Independent study will foster in you the ability to identify your own learning needs and determine which areas you need to focus on to become proficient in your subject area. This is an important transferable skill and will help to prepare you for the transition to working life.


Assessment takes a number of different forms including coursework essays, assignments and presentations, and examinations. Students must achieve an overall pass in the taught element in order to progress to their dissertation, which must also be passed for a degree to be awarded.


You will also be assessed on a supervised 15,000-word dissertation.

Programme Structure

MSc Health systems and global policy is available for study for one year full-time, or two years part-time.

In the first semester, modules develop the key concepts and research methods and analysis. These present you with relevant methodological issues and challenges while providing interdisciplinary foundations. In the second semester, you gain a more detailed understanding of areas relevant to your interests through specialist and elective modules.

Core modules

  • Epidemiology and Statistics
  • Evidence Policy and Global Health
  • Health Inequalities and Social Determinants of Health
  • Health Systems policy and practice
  • Dissertation

Specialist module

  • Global Health Governance and Law
  • Human Rights and Public Health

Optional modules

  • Migration, Culture, and Health
  • Gender, Sexuality and Health
  • Anthropologies of Global Health
  • Advanced Social Determinants of Health
  • Health Systems theory, economics and policy
  • Globalisation and Contemporary Medical Ethics
  • Global Governance and International Organisations
  • Economics of Development
  • Human Resource Management in the Public Services
  • Ecological Global Health

Types of Study


Undertaking an MSc programme is a serious commitment, with weekly contact hours being in addition to numerous hours of independent learning and research needed to progress at the required level. When coursework or examination deadlines are approaching independent learning hours may need to increase significantly. Each module you study is worth 15 credits. University guidelines suggest that for every 15 credits, a student will need to study for 150 hours. You will usually have one 1-hour lecture and one 2-hour seminar per module per week.


Our part-time study options mean you can complete the MSc over two years. Our MSc programmes consist of four core modules, four elective modules and a dissertation worth a total of 180 credits.

A part time student is required to take two of the core module worth 15 credits in semester one of the first year. In the second semester of the first year a part time student will take two elective modules of 15 credits.

In the second year a part time student will take the other two core modules worth 15 credits in semester one, and in the second semester they would take a further two elective modules worth 15 credits. In the second year a part time student would research and write their 15,000 word dissertation worth 60 credits. This is usually submitted in August.

University guidelines suggest that for every 15 credits, a student will need to study for 150 hours. This is worth considering when thinking about studying part time. You will usually have one 1-hour lecture and one 2-hour seminar per module per week.

Distance Learning

This programme is not currently available as distance learning, although we hope to make this available in the future. Contact us for further information. However, please see here for information about a new DBL programme launching in September 2018.



For enquiries regarding the course please contact:
Ms Emily McLean-Inglis
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 2541
Centre for Primary Care and Public Health
Queen Mary, University of London
58 Turner Street
E1 2AB
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