Environmental Health MSc

This programme provides an accredited pathway for science-based graduates to become environmental health practitioners. It is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) as meeting its core curriculum requirements. 

The course is taught using formal lectures; workshops; group work; case studies; practical simulations e.g. mock trial; industrial/commercial visits; and student centered learning. A virtual learning platform has been introduced to allow the students to identify hazards and risks within an industrial environment. It will provide students with a hands on opportunity for problem –solving. It supports building the foundation of competence through the knowledge and skills required by the CIEH curriculum.

This programme is aimed at UK/EU students. If you are an International student, please see the equivalent Public and Environmental Health MSc programme.

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On completion of the MSc, students will need to undergo practical training in an approved organisation and complete their Portfolio of Professional Practice (PPP) to become a registered Environmental Health Practitioner. The Portfolio of Professional Practice (PPP) is a new CIEH assessment that forms part of the pathway to qualification as an Environmental Health Practitioner (EHP). The portfolio is based upon the concepts of experiential learning and reflective practice and requires candidates to undertake a range of interventions, develop a range of skills and reflect upon their experiences. Further information can be found on the CIEH PPP pages.

The course is taught using formal lectures; workshops; group work; case studies; practical simulations e.g. mock trial; industrial/commercial visits; and student centered learning. It is built around the foundation of knowledge and skills required by the CIEH.

Why study this course


“The course was well structured and provided me with an excellent grounding in all the core disciplines of Environmental Health.”

Charley Woodman

Bringing out the best in our students

Our students regularly win awards and recognition for their work from Environmental Health organisations, often allowing them to influence real-world issues and policies.

Former MSc Environmental Health student Gam Bahadur Gurung was recently awarded the Environmental Protection UK ‘best research project for indoor air quality’ prize for his dissertation entitled ‘To investigate the exposure to Carbon Monoxide (CO) and PM2.5 levels inside the shisha premises of Birmingham in collaboration with Birmingham City Council (BCC)’. This is the second award that Gam has received for his dissertation, having previously been awarded the Sir Oliver Lodge Prize.
Find out more about Gam's award

Top marks in CIEH Annual Graduate Award

The CIEH makes an annual competitive award to students, selected from the 13 accredited UK universities, who have the best academic records, achieve the highest results in the CIEH examinations and successfully present at a formal CIEH panel on a selected topic. In recent years our students have won a number of gold, silver and bronze medals.




Food Safety Control (30 credits)

Consideration of all measures needed to ensure the safety and wholesomeness of food at all stages from growth, through production, manufacture and retail until it reaches the consumer.

Food Safety control is a larger module because it also contains important cross-cutting Environmental Health issues in more detail including:

  • Outbreaks, based on analysis of a case study
  • Microbiology and epidemiology
  • Virology
  • Port Health
  • Pest control

Occupational Health & Safety (20 credits)

Provides an understanding of the hazards that can affect Occupational Health and Safety, and is supported by methodologies for measurement and evaluation; intervention and control.

Housing Enforcement and Renewal (20 credits)

Explores the links between housing and health and presents strategies for urban and rural regeneration, and legal interventions that support policies of improving conditions for the inhabitants of poor housing accommodation and their deprived localities.

Environmental Protection and Climate Change (20 credits)

This provides a critical examination of the interaction between environmental pollutants and local communities including water and solid waste management; contaminated land; noise control; air pollution management and control and relevant planning controls. The origins and causation of climate change, its impacts and the mitigation and adaptation strategies which can be applied.

Law (10 credits)

Examines the English Legal System, and the legal procedures that support interventions available under Public Health and Environmental Protection legislation to solve serious problems of pollution, contamination, statutory nuisance, and public health illnesses, along with the requirements of criminal law in the collection of evidence and undertaking prosecutions.

Health Protection (10 credits)

To identify the determinants of health and social inequalities, and the socio-political context in which solutions may be found. To be able to apply the epidemiological methods and disease control strategies, apply the principles of disease association and causation, understand the role of the environment in the propagation of illness and disease, and responses to health emergencies and world pandemics.

Public Health Integration (10 credits)

The aim of the module is for students to integrate their acquired public and environmental health knowledge across intervention areas associated with Dahlgren and Whitehead’s 1992 conceptualisation of the determinants of health and well-being. This includes the ability to demonstrate, how, a range of measures can be used to maximise the outcome for a given situation and to be able to demonstrate the complexity of the interaction of the determinants of health, and how the use of evidence based practice and reflective practice supports an effective approach.

The examination under this module forms the ‘Integrated Professional Assessment’ requirements, set out by the Chartered institute of Environmental Health.

Dissertation (60 credits)

This will require independent research involving a critical literature review, primary data collection , analysis of results, and the synthesis and evaluation of conclusions and recommendations.

There will be a special emphasis in providing the student with an understanding of the role of the Environmental Health Practitioner within the broader public health field, and the necessary networks and partnerships required in the delivery of individual and community health related interventions. In preparation for the Dissertation, there will be instruction on statistics, study design, sampling strategies and hypothesis generation.

Course Schedule

Students must expect to attend four-five days per week in the autumn and spring terms. There is little teaching in the summer term with time set aside for completing assignments, examination preparation, and undertaking the Dissertation.

Practical Food Inspection

In addition to the MSc programme, each student will be required to undertake a specific training programme and pass an examination on the wholesomeness and fitness for human consumption of a range of food and food products to meet the professional practice requirements of the CIEH. The University will provide a short course followed by a certified examination. The price of this programme is not included in the MSc course fees and an additional fee will be charged for the training and examinations of £650.

Part-time students

The course is modularised and structured so that part-time students can accumulate credits over a period of time. It is compulsory to take the Law Module first but this can be with any combination of other modules. The University allows five years to complete the MSc. Students who are Technical Officers within Local Authorities will be able to use their work experience to meet the requirements of the Experiential Learning Portfolio required by the CIEH.

Fees and funding

Fees for 2017

  • Home/EU students £7,650 FT

Learn more about fees and funding.

Other scholarships and studentships
Use the funding database search for more information.

Entry requirements

Entry onto the course requires a science based honours degree (2:1 minimum).  A relevant 2.2 degree will be considered for entry where the applicant has relevant work experience.

Learn more about entry requirements

How to apply

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

The ethos of the course is problem-based learning. Its purpose is to provide students with the skills and knowledge to be able to work as an Environmental Health Practitioner within a range of organisations including National and Local Government, Health Services, Commercial Companies and Private Consultancies. 

The course is led by experienced Environmental Health Practitioners supported by external lecturers who are recognized specialists in their fields. Students have opportunities to be taught by and supported in their own research dissertations by the research scientists within the Division of Environmental Health and Risk Management.

Placements and Portfolio of Professional Practice

CIEH LogoThe Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has accredited the course since 1991. Further to completion of the MSc, you must undertake a period of work based learning. You will be required to complete a Portfolio of Professional Practice ( PPP) of work based learning for the CIEH and undertake a professional interview with the CIEH.

Graduate Training programmes can be up to 12 months in length or can be shorter internships. The majority are provided within local authorities, but an increasing number are offered by private companies such as ASDA retail company. There may be some financial support given by the training provider. Many are advertised through the CIEH journal, Environmental Health News, and directly to the University. We offer you full support to prepare for interviews for these positions.

If you are a part-time student already based in Local Authorities then you may be able be able to negotiate individual arrangements subject to meeting the Chartered Institute’s PPP requirements.

Portfolio of Professional Development (PPP) Distinction for Birmingham Student

Emma Stiff receiving her awardOn graduation, Emma Stiff obtained a placement at Birmingham City Council where she completed a Portfolio of Professional Practice (PPP) as required by the CIEH prior to taking her professional examinations. She received an award as the first student ever to obtain a distinction in all 15 components of the PPP. The award was presented by Lt Col Douglas Ralph, Chair of the Qualifications Standards Committee, and Graham Jukes, Chief Executive.

Assessment methods

Assessments are in the form of formal written examinations, group work presentations and research dissertations. Students must pass all modules if they wish to become registered with the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.

Related research

Environmental sampling station

Ten reasons to choose Environmental Health as a career

  1. Focusing on prevention, rather than cure, work on the public health side of Environmental Health keeps people out of doctors’ surgeries and hospitals by ensuring safe working conditions, clean air, safe food and good quality housing.
  2. For an Environmental Health practitioner, no two days are ever the same; there are few careers that can offer that.
  3. Environmental Health professionals have the skills and influence to revive run-down communities (for example through better, safer housing), and make a real contribution to society.
  4. Environmental Health professionals have influence over policy development and implementation.
  5. Graduates have a good choice of jobs and attractive starting salary
  6. Environmental Health professionals can find employment in different sectors – private sector opportunities include consultancies, and the retail or tourist sector (Airways, cruise liners, tourist companies), and public sector includes local authorities and agencies such as the Food Standards Agency, Environment Agency or the Armed Forces.
  7. You could be part of local and national initiatives to improve awareness and understanding of public health and wellbeing by working with doctors, health visitors, dieticians and many other public health professionals.
  8. Qualifying as an Environmental Health practitioner will give you skills and practical experience in all core areas of Environmental Health – public health, environmental protection, food safety and nutrition, health and safety, and housing.
  9. Environmental Health practitioners develop good arbitration and communication skills.
  10. You could be working alongside other professionals towards a sustainable agenda for the future.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health can provide further information on Environmental Health careers

Employability Skills

During the time on the course, students will be encouraged to develop employability skills which UK Employer Organisations have stated are essential for graduate recruitment. These include:

  • Time management
  • Communication Skills
  • Team working
  • Personal planning and organisation
  • Critical thinking skills

Birmingham is one of Europe's most exciting cities. If you are already based here you know what this vibrant, forward-thinking, international city has to offer. If you are moving here you are going to have great fun finding out. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Supporting you

Whoever you are, wherever you come from, we'll make sure you have all the support you need to make the most of your time at Birmingham. We have a student mentor scheme and offer other support, such as disability and dyslexia advice and support, childcare and nursery facilities and financial advice.

Postgraduate and Mature Student Association (PGMSA)

If you are a mature student it's worth considering joining the Postgraduate and Mature Student Association (PGMSA). This voluntary, student-led group has an active Facebook group where you can keep up with all the events and activities on offer.

Are you an International Student?

The University of Birmingham has one of the largest international student communities within the UK. The mix of nationalities and cultures on campus greatly enriches our learning and teaching environment and will help you feel at home during your time with us. Find out more at our international student website

Living in Birmingham

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The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and culture, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work.

Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.