A brand new MPhil in Population Health Sciences (PHS) has been launched by the University of Cambridge. It is jointly run by the Department of Public Health and Primary Care, the MRC Epidemiology Unit and the MRC Biostatistics Unit (BSU), with contributions from colleagues across the University.
The MPhil PHS is a postgraduate master’s course, with specialisation streams covering the academic disciplines of health data science, infectious diseases, epidemiology, global health, public health, and primary care research. BSU staff will teach courses across all these streams, but will take particular responsibility for teaching the specialist courses in health data science. Students studying this stream will have the option to take specialist courses in advanced biostatistics, Bayesian statistics, machine learning, causal inference, genetic epidemiology, geostatistics and infectious disease modelling.
The new MPhil is a one-year full-time master’s degree (FHEQ level-7 equivalent) of the University of Cambridge. It builds upon and replaces the previous MPhils in Primary Care Research, Public Health, and Epidemiology, which ran for 6, 15, and 27 years respectively and on which members of the BSU taught. The course can also be taken as an MSt in Population Health Sciences, which is a two-year part-time master’s degree of the University of Cambridge. Due to support from HDRUK, we are fortunate to be able to offer scholarships to some UK candidates following the Health Data Science theme. These will be awarded at the discretion of the course admissions committee to cover between 50% and 100% of tuition fees and living costs. Applicants for the Health Data Science stream will automatically be considered for these scholarships.
The overall aim of the programme is to provide course participants with the necessary knowledge and skills to serve as a foundation for a career in population health sciences in academic, practice or other settings. Students will receive basic training in the core research methods used in the related academic disciplines of epidemiology, global health, health data science, infectious diseases, public health, and primary care research, and will then be given the opportunity to further specialise in their chosen area of interest. The course will teach students how to critique and design population health studies, and will give them the opportunity to carry out focused research under close supervision. Ultimately, we expect graduates of the course to contribute to the study and improvement of population health.
In one of the many alumni testimonials, Rhian Gabe, who completed an MPhil in Epidemiology and is now a Professor of Biostatistics and Clinical Trials, Queen Mary University of London, said: “The MPhil in Epidemiology in Cambridge was a turning point in my career. I started out with some practical experience from having worked in a trials office, but the MPhil taught me methods and research skills I would come to use later in my career. I felt very lucky to have been taught by some of the most experienced and respected researchers in the field.”
Dr William Astle, Programme Leader and Senior Lecturer at the BSU, and the Course Director for the Health Data Science stream of the new MPhil said: “We are lucky that the breadth of staff expertise in the MRC Biostatistics Unit and across the University allows us to offer a new advanced course in Health Data Science which will appeal to students with a wide range of academic interests. We expect that excellent students with a technical background in subjects like mathematics, engineering, physics and computer science will apply, but also students who are specialists in the biological sciences and medicine, who wish to acquire training in modern techniques from statistics and machine-learning that they can apply during their future careers in academic research, medicine, industry, or the public sector.”
Applications are now open for 2021/2022. The course is open to graduates and other qualified candidates who wish to pursue a research, practice or leadership career in population health sciences.
If you would like to find out more, go to the new website: https://www.phs.masters.cam.ac.uk/