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Environmental Health MSc

Start date
1 year full-time; part-time routes of 2-5 years are available
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught

£10,530 FT (UK students)
£29,340 (International Students)

More detail

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

We recognise the value of providing practical experience and expertise to our students as well as the taught elements of the course. Site visits are arranged in order for students to put into practice their newly acquired skills. Students benefit from being taught in a research-intense environment and are encouraged to develop their critical thinking and research skills. The course supports building the foundation of competence through the knowledge and skills required by the CIEH curriculum. We welcome international students on our courses.

This programme is open to international students and is the route that must be taken by people who intend to work in the UK as an Environmental Health Practitioner.  If you are an international student and not intending to work in the UK, the Public and Environmental Health MSc programme is more tailored for international students. This Public and Environmental Health MSc is also accredited by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.

This course fulfils the academic requirements to become a graduate Environmental Health Officer. Having gained the MSc in Environmental Health, graduates will begin practicing. Alongside this, graduates can sign up to either the new Environmental Health registration scheme or Chartered Environmental Practitioner Programme (CPP), both of which are run by the CIEH. Both of these routes lead to registration and are designed to develop highly competent and professional practitioners in the field.

Our students can apply to be an Affiliate member of the CIEH.Details of membership can be found on the CIEH website. 

Students benefit from being taught in a research intense environment and are encouraged to develop their critical thinking and research skills. The course supports building the foundation of competence through the knowledge and skills required by the CIEH curriculum.

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

Former Student Rebecca Espley won the West Midlands CIEH award 2017 for the best dissertation from the West Midlands, investigating Awareness of Allergens and Consumer Protection. The award was presented at the WMCIEH annual conference held at the University of Birmingham.

The CIEH has historically held 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. Our students have won a number of gold, silver and bronze medals.

I chose the University of Birmingham for many reasons, such as its reputation as one of the best universities in the country. But in particular it was the structure of the course as it covers all core disciplines of Environmental Health and the fact the course is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. My favourite parts of the course are the real-life inspections and site visits, where you get a chance to apply your classroom learning.

Raveena Purewal, MSc Environmental Health alumna


Food Control and Hygiene Management

(20 credits)

Students in this module will develop a systematic and critical understanding of measures necessary for ensuring the safety, wholesomeness and soundness of food at all stages from its growth, production, or manufacture, until its final consumption. Philosophies such as ‘from farm to fork’ have been used to promote the ideas of food quality and safety at every stage from producer to consumer. Hazard based Food safety management reflects this, focusing particularly on microbiological hazards which cause substantial amounts of food borne illness worldwide. Our membership of the European Union (EU) still has significant impact on the way food controls are implemented in the UK, and the minimum standards of food permitted to be sold. Retained EU legislation and Government bodies such as the Food Standard Agency ( FSA) and Department for Farming and Rural Affairs ( DEFRA), provide a broad range of Statutory Powers and Codes of Practice for Enforcement Authorities. Despite these controls, there are still deep rooted problems with food businesses regarding compliance with food law and in this modules we explore the different approaches to maintaining food safety and standards within this complex industry.

Occupational Health and Safety

(20 credits)

The module enables students to achieve a systematic and critical understanding of the interaction between work, health and well-being and apply appropriate control mechanisms and strategies.  Skills of communication and  judgement on occupational health, safety and wellbeing factors are covered.  Also, the systematic understanding of the control mechanisms by which occupational hazards can be managed are included.  Important elements of safety culture and management are also covered. 

Environmental Protection and Climate Change

(20 credits)

This module will develop students' appreciation of key concepts that link environmental science, ecology, pollution of the environment and human health and wellbeing. They will develop an understanding of the scientific, technical, socio-economic, political and legal factors which influence climate change, environmental quality and safety and the mechanisms and partnership strategies available to effect change. Students will also gain an understanding of the sources, modes of transport and effects of pollution; and how pollution may be controlled in order to protect human health and the environment. 

Health Protection

(20 credits)

This module provides the foundation knowledge and skills needed for engagement in health protection and health improvement. It will examine communicable disease surveillance and there will be epidemiological studies for infectious diseases and environmental epidemiology related to exposures from pollution sources. It will also include an insight into the work of public health including effective projects and partnerships. 

Housing and Law 

(20 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. You will also learn to develop a systematic and conceptual understanding of the ways in which poor housing and environmental conditions adversely affect the health and well-being of residents and the public at large. Participants are taught the key elements of policy and practice, including enforcement, in the field of private sector housing renewal. The module also equips students with a knowledge and understanding of current policy debates and statutory powers available in order to analyse local housing and environmental problems and formulate appropriate policy responses.

Public Health Integration

(20 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. This module links closely with the Health Protection module. 


(60 credits)

This module will provide students with the underpinning skills necessary for them to successfully undertake an MSc research dissertation. Students will gain an understanding of processes needed to plan, implement and evaluate a research-based study. In particular there will be sessions looking at hypothesis and research question generation, survey design, sampling strategies, qualitative approaches, literature searching and evaluation, and an introduction to some basic statistical techniques. Students will be expected to formulate their project ideas and to write their research protocols. 

An in-depth project will be submitted in the form of a dissertation or research paper. Research can use a variety of methods, including mixed approaches. 

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.

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, graduates are 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 provides 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. There are two strands available to part-time students: a fixed duration strand lasting two years, and a flexible strand which allows you to complete the MSc within four years. Students studying the fixed duration MSc study 60 credits in their first year and 120 credits in their second year. We normally recommend the following route for these students:

Year 1, Semester 1 
  • Health Protection (10 credits) -  Mondays, 1 day per week
  • LM Food Microbiology and Safety (10 credits) -  Thursdays, 1 day per week
Year 1, Semester 2 
  • Food Control and Safety Management (20 credits) – Thursdays, 1 day per week
  • Housing and Law (20 credits) - Tuesdays and some Fridays from Feb-Easter break, 1-2 days per week
Year 2, Semester 1
  • LM Environmental Protection and Climate Change (20 credits) - 1 day per week
  • Research methods 60 credits inc dissertation 5 -6 days total
Year 2, Semester 2
  • Public Health Integration (20 credits) - 6-7 days teaching
  • Research methods 60 credits inc dissertation 5 -6 days total
  • Occupational Health and Safety (20 credits) - 1 day per week
  • Dissertation – Complete over the summer


Fees for 2024/25

  • UK students £10,530 FT
  • International students £29,340 FT

Learn more about fees and funding.

Are you an international applicant?

All international applicants to this course will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit of £2,000 on receipt of an offer, to secure their place.

Find out more about the deposit >>.

Scholarships and studentships

Birmingham Masters Scholarship

We are offering over 200 awards of £2,000 to support the brightest and best applicants wishing to undertake Masters study at the University during 2024-2025.

Find out more and apply now  

Postgraduate Progression Award

Our Postgraduate Progression Awards offer final year undergraduates at the University of Birmingham a fee discount of £1,500 for postgraduate taught study.

Find out more and apply now  

Our database contains details of postgraduate taught and research scholarship and funding opportunities available to support your studies at the University of Birmingham. Find out more. 

How To Apply

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate taught programme, you will need to submit your application and supporting documents online. We have put together some helpful information on the taught programme application process and supporting documents on our how to apply page. Please read this information carefully before completing your application.

Apply now

Our Standard 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

International Requirements

International Students

English language requirements

Standard English language requirements apply (IELTS: 6.0 overall with no less than 5.5 in any band)

  • IELTS 6.0 with no less than 5.5 in any band
  • TOEFL: 80 overall with no less than 19 in Reading, 19 in Listening, 21 in Speaking and 19 in Writing
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) including online: Academic 64 with no less than 59 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced – minimum overall score of 169, with no less than 162 in any component

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


This course fulfils the academic requirements to become a graduate Environmental Health Officer. Having gained the MSc in Environmental Health, graduates will begin practicing.  Alongside this, graduates can sign up to the new Chartered Environmental Health Practitioner Programme (CPP), run by the CIEH,  which is a route to Chartered Status.

This two-year, practice-based route to Chartered Status is built on the CIEH's Professional Standards. The programme is designed to develop highly competent and professional practitioners in the protection of the health and wellbeing of people and communities.  Details about gaining chartered status and applying for membership can be found on the CIEH website. 

Portfolio of Professional Development (PPP) Distinction for Birmingham Student


One of our students, Jiani Ma, won the CIEH Rising Star Excellence Award in 2017 for her work on a diet and nutrition programme in China called 'CHIRPY DRAGON' (‘CHInese pRimary school children PhYsical activity and DietaRy behAviour chanGe InterventiON’). The programme, devised and led by academics in the Public Health department at the University of Birmingham, was in collaboration with the Chinese Guangzhou Centre of Disease Prevention and Control.

Jiani is now completing her PhD in the field of Public Health.

Assessment Methods

The course is taught using formal lectures; workshops; group work; case studies and student centered learning, recognising the importance of technical and practical skills as well as academic excellence. 

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.


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