Public Mental Health

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


Enquire Now

Launching in September 2018, this degree looks at psychiatry and mental illness through a public health and socio-cultural lens.

There is growing recognition of rising levels of unmet mental health need across the world, right across the spectrum of low and high-income countries.

This MSc provides students with the opportunity to learn about the current trends in global mental illness and their underlying drivers, as well as examine current responses to the burden of mental illness by global, national and local actors. It will enable clinicians, policymakers, managers, activists and commissioners to think about mental health on a global scale, with an awareness of local cultural norms, and prepare graduates of the course for work in these areas.

Importantly, this teaching on mental illnesses will be nested within a broader and generic public health curriculum  that covers: basic epidemiology and statistics; an understanding of health systems policy, including health financing and human resource policy; an introduction to the social determinants of health; medical anthropology; and an understanding of research, evidence and epistemology. Such core subjects are relevant and important to public mental health.

Further, students will learn about global perspectives on mental health and the importance of cultural competence when making clinical decisions about care and management of those suffering from poor mental health.

Careers Options

This course is intended for both professionals currently active in mental health services, and more recent graduates with an interest in working on a global scale. It is intended for:

  • Clinicians working in psychiatry, clinical psychology and other clinical settings who have an interest in the public health and socio-cultural dimensions of mental illness, or those seeking to develop clinical careers in these areas.
  • Health managers (working at facility, district, provincial or national levels), policymakers, commissioners and activists who want to develop a public health understanding of mental health policy and mental healthcare systems, or graduates seeking to work in healthcare management.
  • Anyone wanting to develop a research career in mental health policy, mental healthcare systems, the socio-cultural determinants of mental illness or cultural psychiatry.

For those with a public health background or interest, this MSc will help you develop expertise in one of the growing areas of global health: the unmet need of mental illness.

Where are students taught?

Students taking this course will be based with the Centre for Global Public Health on the Whitechapel campus (East London) for the first semester, and then the Centre for Psychiatry on the Charterhouse Square campus (Central London) in the second semester.

Centre for Global Public Health
Based in Whitechapel in the heart of London's east end, the Centre delivers world leading research and education to inform and support local and global primary care and public health policy. We have programmes of innovative and internationally relevant research and education and have had a research grant income of £15 million in the last five years.

Centre for Psychiatry
Based in Central London the Centre for Psychiatry is a world leader in research on cultural, social and environmental aspects of public mental health, as well as health services research to improve the care of patients. We are one of the three Centres within the renowned Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, part of Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, a leading UK multi-faculty research institution.

Course Director
Professor David McCoy and Dr Mark Freestone

Senior Lecturer and MSc Co-ordinator
Professor Simon Dein and Dr Elias Kondilis

General course queries and applications

MSc Course Administrators: 
tel: 0207 882 2013
0207 882 2038


Semester 1

Based at the Whitechapel campus for this part of the programme, students take four 15 credit core modules of the Global Health programme in the first semester, providing them with a foundation of generic and relevant skills and competencies, covering:

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

Epidemiology and Statistics

In this module case studies are used to illustrate the advantages and disadvantages of different study designs and their application to different research questions.  Students will gain skills in critical appraisal, interpreting the results of commonly used statistical techniques and routine morbidity and mortality measures.
The aims of the module are to teach students:

  • To be able to interpret statistics when presented in research papers and reports in order to communicate with health care professionals, statisticians and patients/public and to engage in clinical policy debates around interventions designed to reduce social inequalities.
  • To be able to critically appraise the quality of research and clinical trials, and to have the building blocks on which to build evidence based practice.

This module takes a non-mathematical approach to study design and statistical analysis starting with clinical examples and explaining how statistics can help to answer real life questions. The module will not teach statistical methods in detail. Students will be expected to calculate percentages and other simple summary measures but will not be expected to carry out any more complex statistical analysis.

Evidence, Policy and Global Health

This module provides an introduction to the philosophy of science and debates about the nature of data and evidence from a public policy and practical / applied public health perspective. The module will also contribute to the students’ appreciation of the importance and application of multi-disciplinarily.

The module will enable students to recognise that the study of social systems (including health care systems, hospitals, clinics, non-government organisations, communities and households) requires a different approach to, for example, the study of the causes of disease or the measurement of disease risk, or the assessment of treatment efficacy.

The aims of the module are to teach students to

  • Recall and understand the different ontological positions and epistemological approaches embedded in different disciplines and kinds of research.
  • Critically appraise the published policy research and analysis literature
  • Judge the appropriateness of particular approaches to different public health policy debates and research questions
  • Critically assess the evidence base that underpins public health policy

Health Inequalities and Social Determinants of Health

This module is intended to equip students to critically examine the causes and the measurement of inequalities in health and the nature and range of policy solutions available to remedy them.

This module is intended to provide students with a new way of thinking about the social determinants of health, such that health disparities do not exist in a vacuum, but rather, affect and are affected by other social classification systems.  An overarching theme of the course will be how complex and intersecting social factors relating to health are inequitably distributed, contributing to marked health disparities.

The aims of the module are to teach students to:

  • Understand inequity in the distribution of health and its fundamental social causes.
  • Apply major theoretical perspectives to the explanation of social determinants of health.
  • Know approaches and methods of measurement of health inequalities.
  • Conceptualize the requirements for effective prevention of disease with a focus on culturally bound issues, which shape appropriate intervention.
  • Critically evaluate different accounts of health disparities, recognize gaps in knowledge, and identify areas for future research.

Health Systems Policy and Practice

This module will provide students with a comprehensive introduction to the topic of health systems, as well as the use of certain economic theories and analysis to inform health systems policy. The module will cover health systems issues in low, middle and high income country settings.

We will look at the application of mainstream economic theories to health systems policy, and discuss key policy issues about the distinction between public and private financing, as well as the role of markets and hierarchies, and of private and public providers. Students will also be introduced a brief history of the evolution of health systems policy in low and middle income countries.

The aims of the module are to teach students to:

  • Understand various conceptual and theoretical understandings of ‘health systems’; and locate them within a social, economic, historical and global context.
  • Understand the functional components of a health system, including the mechanisms and systems for financing health care delivery, as well as
  • Knowledge of the management-administrative arrangements of a health system.

Semester 2

Cultural and Global Perspectives on Mental Healthcare

In semester 2, students will take a 60 credit module in Cultural & Global Perspectives in Mental Health Care based on the Charterhouse Square campus.

Much mental health research and clinical practice is still Eurocentric in its approach and in its research findings. Such a narrow approach can limit our understanding of how psychological processes and perceptions might vary across the world and over time. In a globalised world, mutual understanding and respect have become qualities that are demanded of us all in our cross cultural and cross societal contacts, and in this context the module incorporates insights from anthropology, sociology and geography as well as psychiatry and psychology to open up the cultural discourse around mental health in a globalised world.

The key aim of this module is to familiarize the students with the main issues in transcultural psychiatry: cultural differences in the clinical manifestation of disorders, different prevalence rates across communities and different care needs. The module will introduce the relatively new field of global mental health, its definition and relation to the practice of mental health care in low resource countries. It will raise key figures and critical debates that are emerging about global mental health, and the importance of global mental for addressing the ethical implications of using certain psychiatric frameworks transculturally. Some illustrative lecture content includes:

  • Disaster Mental Health is a vital aspect of humanitarian responses, and so lecture will focus on trauma as an example of a post-disaster psychiatric disorder and critically examine challenges when working with victims of disaster.
  • Migrant and Refugee Mental Health: using the theoretical framework of acculturation, this lecture will discuss the impact of migration on mental illness and suicide, and reflect on the socio-economic and political context of mental illness and treatment for people from migrant and refugee backgrounds. It aims to produce a critical understanding about the issue of service delivery and access for these populations.
  • Schizophrenia and culture: a number of studies have explored hallucinations as complex experiences involving interactions between psychological, biological, and environmental factors and mechanisms. Nevertheless, relatively little attention has focused on the role of culture in shaping hallucinations.

Students completing this module will be assessed through an oral presentation and written examination, and will have an opportunity to conduct a pilot study of their chosen area of research, usually by systematic review but in some cases it may be possible to conduct new primary research.

Semester 3


Students will complete a 60 credit dissertation on a topic of their choice in the field of mental health care, mental health policy or public mental health. Our intention is that by this stage students should feel well practiced in their chosen methodology, whether systematic reviewing or primary research.

Entry requirements

UK Students

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.


You will 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 large collection of basic medical and dental texts in the main library at Mile End. The Library is open seven days a week. This resource is complemented by the two large medical and dental archives based at the Royal London and at Barts in older, architecturally distinguished buildings that are well worth a visit just to experience their atmosphere.

The diversity of our student body and our research profile reflects our location in one of the most culturally diverse areas of London.

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.


A mixture of written essays, oral presentations and exams.


Tuition fees for Home and EU students

2019/20 Academic Year

Full time £9,000
Part time £4,500

Tuition fees for International students

2019/20 Academic Year

Full time £16,538
Part time £8,275

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



You may also be interested in