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The University of Edinburgh: Health Policy

Institution The University of Edinburgh View institution profile
Department School of Social and Political Science
Study type Taught


The MSc Health Policy will develop your understanding of, and critical engagement with, key challenges in health policy.

Both state and non-state actors grapple with how best to promote the health of communities and populations, including the most effective strategies for:

  • preventing disease

  • ensuring efficient and high quality health care

  • reducing health inequalities

These challenges extend beyond the traditional domain of the health sector, requiring engagement with economic and social policy and a range of non-state actors including third sector organisations, commercial interests and international agencies.

Who this programme is for

The MSc in Health Policy is designed for individuals interested in a wide range of health-related roles including:

  • government and international agencies

  • health advocacy

  • health administration and health care delivery

  • consultancies

  • advisory roles

  • the commercial sector

  • health-related research

Our students come from countries at all levels of economic development and from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds, with many using the MSc as an investment to develop their careers or move into a more policy-focused role.

While the programme has a strong policy focus, it also includes an academic orientation so is good preparation for further research at PhD level.

Programme streams

Within the programme there is scope for you to specialise in either health systems or health inequalities, or to follow a broad policy stream.

Health Systems stream

The Health Systems stream is ideal for those seeking to work in health care policy, planning or management, in either the public or private sectors.

It will expose you to different models of health care financing, purchasing and delivery, equipping you to engage with key contemporary challenges and debates including:

  • how to achieve sustainable health care financing

  • the role of the state in health care

  • how best to achieve the goals of equity, efficiency and quality in health care delivery

Health Inequalities stream

The Health Inequalities stream is ideal for those seeking to engage with health disparities both between and within countries, particularly those relating to inequities in social structures and power.

In this stream you will explore evidence and policy responses to health inequalities across a range of axes, including:

  • class/socioeconomic position

  • ethnicity/race

  • gender

You will consider how health and its determinants are shaped by a range of influences including:

  • social and economic policy

  • commercial power

  • political conflict

This stream is particularly suited to those interested in working in policy, advocacy and research settings with a focus on health equity.

Broad policy stream

You may also elect to follow a broad policy stream within the MSc Health Policy, rather than specialising in health systems or health inequalities.

This stream equips you with an understanding of how health policy fits within broader approaches to social and economic policy, and is particularly suitable for individuals wanting to work in public policy, advocacy or research.

Health Policy at Edinburgh

The MSc programme is situated within the Global Health Policy Unit, which is located in the University’s School of Social and Political Science rather than a medical school.

This reflects our programme’s reach across traditional boundaries, linking:

  • policy analysis

  • public health

  • social policy

  • economics

  • sociology

  • medicine

  • epidemiology

The MSc Health Policy programme offers innovative research-led teaching that draws on academic expertise from all of these disciplines.


University of Edinburgh 


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The University of Edinburgh is one of the world's top universities, consistently ranked in the world top 50, and placed 15th in the 2023 QS World University Rankings Our entrepreneurial and cross-disciplinary culture attracts students and staff from across the globe, creating a unique Edinburgh experience. Whatever excites you, whatever your ambition, whatever makes you ‘you’, we know one thing; nothing ordinary comes from this extraordinary place.

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