International Primary Health Care

MSc ( 1 year Full-time / 2 years Part-time )


Overview: Is this for you?

The re-launch of this exciting programme is designed to build a diverse and vibrant interdisciplinary learning community of multi-professional practitioners from all parts of the world, who believe in the richness and value of excellent primary health care. This programme is especially valuable for professionals who wish to combine primary health care delivery with population health or make the transition from a clinical patient-facing role to one that includes public health, management, education or policymaking.

We aim to equip our students with a deep and critical understanding of primary care, public health and associated health policy, and will introduce essential skills in research, teaching, service development and quality improvement from an international perspective:  We have designed this programme to attract doctors, nurses, allied health professions, together with managers and policy makers, who hope to make a difference!

Why a degree in International Primary Health Care?

This unique programme combines modules in public health with specific modules in primary care with a global health focus. Faculty have experience working in primary care internationally. The primary healthcare system in the UK is used as a case study with comparisons to other countries and consideration of the importance of local context when delivering primary healthcare.

High quality primary health care and public health policies form the cornerstones of an efficient, effective and equitable health system. They are supported by a coherent system of health financing and organisation. They also depend on knowledgeable multi -professional teams who can empower patients and communities and devise preventive strategies and promote self-care and home-based support, in the face of increasing complex burdens of disease.

This vision of primary care is widely held and is prominent in the policies of the World Health Organisation, but achieving this is not without challenges! Building effective primary health care depends critically on expanding the number and capacity of leaders, educators, researchers, policy-makers and change agents in the system.
Through the knowledge and analytic skills gained on this course you will:

  • Understand the principles and practice of effective primary health care in different settings and within different healthcare systems.
  • Be equipped to address the challenges facing primary care across a range of global contexts, to support the development of effective and sustainable locally-delivered healthcare.
  • Be able to plan and develop primary health care services and systems, and advocate for them.
  • Explore the social determinants of health and the challenges of inequalities for health systems policy, and how these relate to primary health care delivery.

Our approach to learning

  • Peer learning groups to explore the essence of primary health care within a global context.
  • Case studies (including the UK) as a basis for developing analytical, planning and presentation skills.
  • Critical reflection of student experience as a basis for co-creating solutions to shared healthcare challenges.
  • Focus on collaboration and team work as essential for addressing the complexity of problems encountered in primary health care.

We have collaborations with other universities and organisations from around the world to aid research, teaching, policy development, and community engagement.

Bridging Primary Health Care with Public Health and Health Systems Policy

This MSc programme is uniquely located within a wider programme of study in global public health that allows for primary health care to be studied alongside core public health and health systems theory and policy modules. The interdisciplinary programme will be led jointly by the Centre for Primary Care & Public Health and the Academic Unit for Community-based Medical Education.

Why study at Queen Mary University London?

Academic excellence, prestige and reputation

  • Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry is ranked among the top five medical schools in the UK.
  • In the 2014 REF, Queen Mary University London is positioned within the top 10 multi-faculty colleges
  • 90% of outputs in clinical medicine and 80% in health services judged world-leading/internationally excellent.
  • Faculty with significant international experience

Local links – London and the NHS

  • We have strong links to the NHS, local authorities, third-sector organisations, policymakers in the UK and elsewhere, and leading international figures in global health. 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

Interdisciplinary approach

  • The MSc programmes explore global health from a diverse multidisciplinary perspective, with teaching led by primary care practitioners, public health consultants, lawyers, sociologists, geographers, and economists.
  • This multidisciplinary approach promotes critical insight and applied skills necessary for management, persuasion, and advocacy.
  • We integrate different types of teaching delivery including small group seminars, role play, student presentations and using multi-media resources.
  • Integrated support will be provided by invited faculty experts with international experience
  • We have collaborations with other universities and organisations from around the world to aid research, teaching, policy development, and community engagement


  • 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.



This MSc programme is available for study as one year full-time, or two years part-time.

In the first semester, modules explore and develop key concepts, research methods and analysis skills. These present you with relevant methodological issues and challenges, whilst providing interdisciplinary foundations. In the second semester, you gain a more detailed understanding of areas relevant to your interests through specialist and elective modules. These specialist modules run concurrently in the full-time programme and consecutively in the part-time programme.

Core modules (Semester 1)

  • Epidemiology and Statistics
  • Evidence, Policy and Global Health
  • Health Inequalities and Social Determinants of Health
  • Health Systems, Policy and Practice

Specialist (compulsory) modules (Semester 2)

  • Primary Care and Global Public Health, Principles, Policy and Practice
  • Primary Care Capacity Building: Leadership and Learning
  • Dissertation (Semester 3)

Optional modules (Semester 2) - choice of two

  • Governance of Migration, Displacement and Healthcare
  • Gender, Sexuality and Health
  • Health Systems Theory, Policy and Political Economy
  • Anthropology and Global Health
  • Global Health Governance and Law
  • Ecological Global Health
  • Human Rights and Public Health
  • Globalisation and Contemporary Medical Ethics
  • Understanding and Managing Human Resources for Global Health
  • Researching Global Health and Biomedicine- Geneva Field Class

Details of specialist modules

Primary Care and Global Public Health, Principles, Policy and Practice
The main focus of this module will be to discuss and critically appraise the principles and functional components of primary healthcare models, and how these relate to wider health system reforms and the economic and human resource challenges of ensuring universal health coverage. You will cover the following through a combination of self-study, group seminars, and lectures:

  • Different models of primary healthcare financing and organisation across the world.
  • The evidence underpinning the move worldwide to expand primary healthcare.
  • The commonalities of good primary healthcare provision across different structures and systems.
  • The main reforms and policy trends affecting primary healthcare systems in high, low and middle-income countries.
  • The issues of healthcare worker training, education, retention and migration. 
  • The increasing role of technology and innovation in primary care and its impact on the doctor-patient relationship.

Primary Care Capacity Building: Leadership and Learning
The main focus of this module is to develop the skills needed for primary healthcare leadership. Students will go on to be able to manage primary healthcare systems and deliver change. Innovative teaching methods will be employed including case-based discussion, role-play of meeting simulations, designing training programmes and materials to cover the following:

  • Understand the principles of quality improvement and be able to use QI methodology to bring about systems change.
  • Understand the factors affecting workforce planning including the delivery of education and training.
  • Ways of evaluating services.
  • Theories of teamwork and leadership
  • Factors affecting PHC delivery in different settings including in secure environments and regions of conflict.
  • How to address population health in the delivery of primary healthcare. 
  • How to meet the current global challenges for primary healthcare provision including addressing the changing global burden of disease, ageing populations, sustainability, and workforce shortages.

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 international equivalent in a relevant subject, such as medicine, the health sciences, nursing or the social sciences. Applicants with a 2.2 honours degree with relevant experience within the field are welcomed to apply. 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.

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 10-12,000-word dissertation.


Prof David McCoy graduated from Southampton University medical school and initially worked in the UK for two and a half years. He then spent ten years in South Africa, first working in a rural government hospital and subsequently in the field of public health and health systems development. He was policy research fellow at the Child Health Unit of the University of Cape Town, and then worked for Health Systems Trust, a non-government organisation established to support the post-apartheid transformation of South Africa’s health care system. On returning to the UK, he completed his formal training in public health medicine. He has a M.Phil in Maternal and Child Health from the University of Cape Town and a doctorate from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Prof Anita Berlin is an inner London GP and Professor of Primary Care Education at Queen Mary College, (having previously worked at University College and Imperial College London.)  She combines clinical practice and academic interests in medical education in community settings, with expertise in curriculum design, teaching quality and institutional governance in the UK and internationally. She has a Masters and Doctorate in Education from London’s Institute of Education (UCL). Recent teaching developments focus on improving professional practice regarding the social determinants of health, health equity and access to healthcare for migrants. She has worked with third sector organisations supporting and advocating for unpaid carers, and supporting survivors of trafficking and torture. She contributed long-term external support for primary care training and capacity building in Palestine and Spain as well as shorter links with Poland, Brazil, Uzbekistan, Israel and Mexico.

Dr Elias Kondilis is a senior lecturer in health systems. He has been involved in research on healthcare privatization policies, quality evaluation and regulation of private for-profit healthcare providers. His research now focuses on the impact of economic crisis on population health and healthcare reform in Europe. Previously he held research and teaching positions at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece.

Dr Claire Rees Clinical Teaching Fellow and GP in inner city London. Has done primary care research work in The Gambia and Tanzania. Involved in Quality Improvement work. 

Invited faculty (TBC) GPs and external experts with relevant international experience in education and system improvement

Dr Werner Leber is a practising GP in Tower Hamlets as well as being an NIHR Clinical Lecturer in Primary Care. He is working on the CLHARC project investigating Improving the identification and management of people with HIV.

Dr Ann O’Brien is a practising GP in a complex care practice covering Redbridge, Havering and Barking and Dagenham residents, supporting the frail elderly with multiple co-morbidities. She has been a clinical senior lecturer at Queen Mary London, with interests in peer review of teaching and curriculum development for leadership and quality improvement in healthcare. She has supported the Faculty of Family Medicine, University of Jaffna develop primary care based learning curricula. She has a MSc in Primary Care and a MSc in Clinical Education.


Tuition fees for Home and EU students

2020/21 Academic Year

Full time £9,950
Part time £5,000

Tuition fees for International students

2020/21 Academic Year

Full time £19,850
Part time £9,950

Part time fees are charged per annum over two years for a two year programme and per annum over three years for a three year programme. A percentage increase may be applied to the fees in years two and three.

This increase is defined each year and published on the intranet and in the Tuition Fee Regulations. A 3% increase was applied to the unregulated university fees in 2019/20. Further information can be viewed on our University Fees webpage, including details about annual increases.


There are a number of sources of funding available for Masters students.

These include a significant package of competitive Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) bursaries and scholarships in a range of subject areas, as well as external sources of funding.

Queen Mary bursaries and scholarships

We offer a range of bursaries and scholarships for Masters students including competitive scholarships, bursaries and awards, some of which are for applicants studying specific subjects.

Find out more about QMUL bursaries and scholarships.

Alternative sources of funding

Home/EU students can apply for a range of other funding, such as Professional and Career Development Loans, and Employer Sponsorship, depending on their circumstances and the specific programme of study.

Overseas students may be eligible to apply for a range of external scholarships and we also provide information about relevant funding providers in your home country on our country web pages.

Download our Postgraduate Funding Guide for detailed information about postgraduate funding options for Home/EU students.

Read more about alternative sources of funding for Home/EU students and for Overseas students.

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 5079

Other financial help on offer at Queen Mary

We offer one to one specialist support on all financial and welfare issues through our Advice and Counselling Service, which you can access as soon as you have applied for a place at Queen Mary.

Our Advice and Counselling Service also has lots of Student Advice Guides on all aspects of finance including:

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 8717


Michael Casey

MSc International Primary Healthcare graduate

GP Partner

“After completing my training to become a GP, I was selected to become a Research Fellow by Newham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).  I would be funded to study a Master’s degree of my choice with the intention of helping clinicians become more involved in research and academia.

MSc in International Primary Healthcare seemed the right course for me.  I am very interested in Public Health and Health Policy, particularly with an international perspective.  Also from a practical level I was able to do the degree part-time which fitted in well with my clinical commitments of working as a GP which I continued to do whilst studying. Coming from a biomedical background it was fun to learn about Epistemology and Ontology and concepts such as positivism and constructivism.  There is next to no teaching on this in medical school!  Learning how to structure and frame arguments for the essays was challenging but really useful.  Most of all though I met and made friends with some great people from all over the world.

I have now moved to a different surgery where I am a GP Partner which means I am part of the management team running the practice as well as seeing patients clinically.  I am lead for research at my practice, which involves reviewing and overseeing any proposed studies that come into the practice.  My dissertation study has been published in the British Journal of General Practice which is very exciting.”


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