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Global Health BMedSc - Intercalated Degree

Start date
September / October annually depending on published term dates
1 Year Full Time
Course Type
Undergraduate, Intercalated

Please note that the Intercalated BMedSc Global Health (741E) has been suspended for 2022/23 and 2023/24 entry. There are a wide range of alternative courses available at the University of Birmingham which can be found by using the search function.

As a medical or dentistry student, you may choose to take a year out from your medical course and study on one of our intercalated Bachelor in Medical Science degree programmes. During this year you will specialise in a particular subject, acquire skills in analysing and interpreting research papers and also gain substantial, direct experience of novel research.

Global Health is one of the four Population Sciences and Humanities (PoSH) degree programmes that we currently offer*.  

When applying to undertake a PoSH degree programme, you have the option to provide a 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice. It is therefore important that you also familiarize yourself with the programmes listed below: 

Other BMedSc intercalation programmes are also available. Find out more about our full range of Intercalated Degree (BMedSc, BSc, MSc or MRes) programmes.

*Please note this programme may not run in any future given academic year if there is insufficient student interest or numbers. In addition, the programme may be modified or developed in the future and particular modules or lectures may be replaced or not available in any future given year.’

Everyone involved with medicine will come across some aspect of global health in their career, whether they will recognise it as such is less certain.

This degree can benefit anyone going into medicine, whether, for example, they intend to pursue a career in surgery in the UK or wish to work at an global level. The course will introduce you to the great breadth and depth of global health, though it cannot hope to cover all that makes up global health. This might fuel a career in global health, some time working abroad, or it might just make you a better doctor in this country.

"Intercalating in global health was a challenging yet hugely rewarding experience. Three months of late nights and hard work were followed by three months of gallivanting across the globe. The debates, seminars, assignments, research, the whole year has had a major influence on the doctor I see myself becoming in the future and the life experiences I've gained from it are completely invaluable. I can't recommend this course enough." Rebecca Smith, BMedSc International Health, 2014-15

"Today, good and evil are inseparable because we know about both. But is it enough simply to be informed? Are we condemned to be largely spectators? Can we affect the course of events?” Sebastião Salgado. 2001. 

Intercalating in global health was a challenging yet hugely rewarding experience. Three months of late nights and hard work were followed by three months of gallivanting across the globe. The debates, seminars, assignments, research, the whole year has had a major influence on the doctor I see myself becoming in the future and the life experiences I've gained from it are completely invaluable. I can't recommend this course enough.

Rebecca Smith, BMedSc International Health, 2014-15

Why study this course?

The course is designed to equip you with researcher skills for the future as well as developing your knowledge of the topic of global health.

Semester one in the autumn consists of three specialist modules covering global health with one larger module covering research methods (both theoretical and applied). Semester two involves a research project that can be conducted in range of countries across the world.  This will be devised in semester one and written up for the end of semester two.

All students will be provided with at least one nominated academic supervisor to support their research activity and will also have access to research and statistics support through dedicated research clinics.

On completion of the degree students should have knowledge and understanding of:

  • The definition of global health and the range and depth of topics important to the subject
  • Key topics in the area of global health such as healthcare organisation, the role of pharmaceutical companies, the effects on health of migration and conflict etc.
  • Commonly used research methods and data analysis techniques within health and medicine
  • How research methods are applied to inform on the health of the population (epidemiology) and the management of global health issues
  • An understanding of the practicalities of conducting research in a range of settings
  • The legal and ethical frameworks of medical research

In addition to enhancing knowledge and understanding, we believe our teaching methods, with emphasis on feedback and easy access to support, strongly support development of the following skills and attributes:

  • The ability to critically read and appraise research evidence
  • The ability to produce scientifically valid research
  • The ability to manage a research project from conception to completion with enhanced project management skills which will be transferable to other aspects of your career
  • The ability to effectively communicate your ideas or scientific findings through a range of commonly used presentation mechanisms including oral presentation, poster presentation, production of a journal article and essay writing
  • Enhanced independent learning skills
  • Greater awareness of team working and skills to support this in clinical and academic settings
  • Improved ability to think logically and broadly about a range of problems, drawing on a variety of disciplines to support arguments 


  • “The guest lecturers have been so varied and completely widened our horizons”
  • “ was one of the most rewarding things that we have ever done”
  • “Your enthusiasm and obvious love for teaching has made the course both challenging and incredibly inspirational”
  • “There should be more International Health sessions in the [main] course”
  • “All sessions have been great”
  • “The range of speakers was fantastic”
  • “This is a great course, I have learned a lot, but most of all it has been incredibly interesting”
  • “I still feel there is more I could have learnt”
  • “I’m sad it’s over”


This is a full-time course running for one academic year. The programme requires completion of 120 credits as follows: 

Semester 1

  • Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods
  • Applied Health Research Methods and Ethics
  • Communicable diseases in Global Health
  • Non-communicable diseases in Global Health
  • Social and Economic Determinants of Health
  • Research Design

Semester 2

  • International Health Research Project

The modules listed on our website may occasionally be subject to change. For example, as you will appreciate, key members of staff may leave the University and this might necessitate a review of the modules that are offered. Where a module is no longer available, we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.


Standard Fees Apply

All students are entitled to reclaim up to £500 project expenses for conduction of their research and £1100 if international research is undertaken. Claims must be accompanied by original receipts. Further to this Birmingham students are eligible to apply for an intercalated bursary (normally up to £2000). Applications for these awards will be considered at the end of the programme of study and are not guaranteed

Internal bursaries

All students who are registered on the MBChB or Dental Programmes at the University of Birmingham are eligible to apply for a bursary to support them during their period of study. The intention to apply should be indicated on the application form and students expressing an intention will receive further information. Bursaries are currently set at £3,000 and are limited. Students with an overall mean mark of <65% in year 2 of their programme of study are unlikely to be awarded a bursary.

Our funding sources mean that we are unable to offer bursaries to students from outside of Birmingham.

External bursaries

The College usually receives an invitation each year from the Royal College of Physicians to submit a limited number of applications for their Wolfson intercalated programme. The deadline for this is usually the end of March which means the programme needs to shortlist by mid-March. Bursaries are up to £5000 and are nationally competitive. Our students have a very good record in securing such awards. Any student interested in applying needs to contact the BMedSc PoSH Administration team by the 31st of January in the year in which they plan to apply.

Eligible students should:

  • Demonstrate a consistent and outstanding academic track record; an overall mean mark >70% in year 2 and consistently high marks in other years. N.B. Because of the need to show consistent academic achievement it is expected that students will be in year 3 or 4 at the time of application. A second year applicant who can demonstrate excellence may be considered but should contact the admissions tutor at the earliest opportunity to discuss this.
  • Be applying for an intercalation in one of our science programmes (Global Health, or Public Health and Population Sciences).
  • Have a research focus or area of interest (Support will be given during February to develop this into an application).
  • Be prepared to work on their application (including designing a research project) during February and early March of the year that they are applying for admission onto the course prior to the course commencing in September.

All eligible students who express an interest will have the opportunity to meet with the Admissions Tutor to discuss the application and receive guidance in drafting an application. Further to this there will be the opportunity to submit one draft application by the 28th February for comment. All students will then be required to submit their application by the specified deadline (varies annually but likely to be mid-March). Students will be informed if their application has been selected for submission to the Royal College within 2 weeks. Any student submitted will receive an early and unconditional place on the programme. Unsuccessful applicants will be able to use their work in their application for an internal bursary.

How To Apply

Please note that the Intercalated BMedSc Global Health (741E) has been suspended for 2022/23 and 2023/24 entry. There are a wide range of alternative courses available at the University of Birmingham which can be found by using the search function.

Applications for this programme will be accepted from students wishing to intercalate after year 3 or 4 of their medical studies, or year 2 for Dental students. Students must have obtained >60% in the second year of MBChB or BDS to be eligible. Applicants will be ranked on their year 2 mark and on their answers to the questions on the application form.
Please note: students who have failed to achieve 60% may still apply, but are required to demonstrate a significant upward academic trajectory or excellence in specific areas related to the proposed intercalation. 

Applications from students not currently registered at Birmingham

We are happy to consider applications for any of the programmes within the Population Sciences and Humanities subjects from students from other institutions. We have a strong track record over recent years in supporting these students and facilitating integration into their new institution.

Applications from students from other universities should be made on our standard application form and must be accompanied by a transcript of marks from your current institution. Should an offer of a place be made to you further admission forms will be sent from the University via our Course Administrator.

We are always happy to discuss our programmes with students from other universities. If you have any queries or wish to discuss the opportunities available to you in Birmingham please contact the BMedSc PoSH Administration team.

International Students

EU/EEA+CH students can also apply on the basis of home fees, but are encouraged to contact the program lead before they do so.

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in the Birmingham Foundation Academy, a specially structured programme for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on the foundation academy web pages.

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. From the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.

Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning (for example preparing and delivering presentations with your classmates).

Support and supervision

You will have an academic supervisor to oversee their research activity. The Programme Lead, Dr Gilles De Wildt, will offer support and guidance for all aspects of the course. You have access to research and statistics clinics which operate on a booking system. 

Examples Projects from Recent Years

  • Perceptions attitudes and barriers to accessing healthcare services in a poor urban community, Gondar, Ethiopia
  • The ethnic distribution of chronic suppurative otitis media in Nepal
  • The beliefs of the Beta Israel about pregnancy and child health in Gondar, Ethiopia: a qualitative study.
  • How new roads affect the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases in rural Ecuador
  • A comparison of a general practitioner’s (GP’s) consultation style with and without the presence of a professional interpreter.
  • Influenza pandemic: A Qualitative study of the Knowledge and attitudes of Birmingham medical students.
  • The effectiveness of an educational intervention on the rate in initiation of breast feeding within an hour of delivery: A pilot RCT in Uganda.
  • Why are the indigenous people of Northwest Ecuador not accessing western healthcare?
  • Women’s Barriers to Antenatal Care in Rural Zambia
  • Health seeking Behaviour by Primary Carers of Children Aged Under 5 years in Muhoroni, a Rural community in Western Kenya
  • Associations between maternal depression and adverse infant health outcomes: a feasibility study
  • The perceptions and attitudes towards psychotic behaviour in rural Kenya: A qualitative study
  • Assessing clubfoot training given to midwives in Malawi
  • Epidemiology and home-based treatment of paediatric burns in Cochabamba, Bolivia
  • Comparing anatomy perceptions, attitudes and knowledge of 4th year medical students in India and the UK

Assessment Methods

You’ll be assessed in a variety of ways, and these may be different with each module that you take. You will be assessed through coursework which may take the form of essays, group and individual presentations, laboratory-based work (depending on your chosen degree) and formal exams.

At the beginning of each module, you’ll be given information on how and when you’ll be assessed for that particular programme of study. You’ll receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done. You’ll be given feedback on any exams that you take; if you should fail an exam we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is made available to enable you to learn for the future.

Preparation for your career should be one of the first things you think about as you start university. Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal.

Our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. Our team source exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoring, global internships and placements available to you. Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CV’s and job applications will help give you the edge. In addition, our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.

Your Birmingham degree is evidence of your ability to succeed in a demanding academic environment. Employers target Birmingham students for their drive, diversity, communication and problem-solving skills, their team-working abilities and cultural awareness, and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

Find out more about the University Careers and Employability Centre.