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.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Taught

Study Options: Full time, part time

Duration: 1 year full-time; part-time routes of 2-5 years are available

Start date: September


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. 

Download the Postgraduate Environmental Health Sciences brochure (PDF 542KB)

Why study this course

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.

Charley Woodman, awarded gold medal for Graduate of the Year 2013 
"It's a real honour to receive the award, it was rather unexpected but it's fantastic to receive such recognition for all the hard work over the last few years!" Read more about Charley's success...

Hear what our students say 

Nathita Fleet

'During the course I have gained a thorough understanding and learnt to apply relevant legislation and enforcement powers in all environmental health disciplines.' Nathita Fleet 
Read a profile for Nathita Fleet



Kathryn Fry

'I found the course was exactly what I had hoped for in an MSc, varied, stimulating and challenging. With tutors, experts in their fields, the lectures were interesting and relevant and I thoroughly enjoyed the course.'  Kathryn Fry 
Read a profile for Kathryn Fry



Jenny Hopkins receiving her award

'I was awarded the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health Graduate of the Year in 2009, which crowned two challenging yet enjoyable years.' Jenny Hopkins
Read a profile for Jenny Hopkins




Natalie Malupa

'The course has provided me with a sound base of knowledge and greatly increased my confidence meaning I was successful in getting a placement at Chelmsford Borough council.' Natalie Malupa
Read a profile for Natalie Malupa 


'I cannot overstate the importance Birmingham has played in laying the solid foundations on which to build my career.' Simon Elliot
Read a profile for Simon Elliot


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 Practice including Urban and Rural Regeneration (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.

Research and Study Skills (10 credits)

In preparation for the Dissertation, there will be instruction in statistics, study design, sampling strategies and hypothesis generation.

Dissertation (50 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.

Course Schedule

MSc Environmental Health course schedule 

Students must expect to attend 4-5 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

  • Home/EU students £6,590 FT (£3,460 PT)

Learn more about fees and funding.

Birmingham Masters Scholarship Scheme
For 2015 entry the University has 224 new £10,000 scholarships available for Masters students from under-represented groups. See further information and selection criteria.

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

Entry requirements

Entry on to the courses requires a science based honours degree (2:2 minimum).

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

Learning and teaching

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


Career Opportunities

Wind turbine painted with a mural

Career opportunities continue to be available in a range of employment areas, including:

  • Local Authorities
  • Government Agencies (HSE, Environment Agency)
  • Government Departments (Dept of Health, National Health Service)
  • Large Private Companies such as ASDA, Sainsbury’s, Tesco
  • Environmental Health Consultancies
  • Training Consultancies
  • Higher Educational Establishments

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