Public Health and Population Sciences BMedSc - Intercalated Degree

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

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.

Public Health & Population Sciences is one of the 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.

This programme provides the opportunity for you to acquire specialist training and undertake a significant piece of public health or population science research. Like our other intercalated programmes the key feature of this programme is the opportunity to spend over 4 months of the year completing research in an area which interests you.

We have an excellent track record in identifying appropriate supervision to support students undertaking research in a wide range of clinical subjects, in a range of locations (both within the UK and abroad) and with a diverse range of individuals.

On completion of the programme you should have knowledge and understanding of:

  • Commonly used research methods and data analysis techniques within health and medicine
  • How research methods are applied to inform the health of the population (epidemiology) and the management of public health issues
  • An understanding of the practicalities of conducting research in a range of settings
  • The legal and ethical frameworks of medical research
  • Key concepts, theory and practice in the subject areas chosen

In addition to enhancing knowledge and understanding we believe our teaching methods with emphasis on feedback and easy access to support strongly promote 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 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 

You will receive specialist training and training in research methods (both theoretical and applied) in semester one. The project will be devised in semester one and data collection, analysis and write-up completed in semester two. All students will have a nominated academic supervisor to support their research activity and will have access to research and statistics support through our research clinics system.

Why study this course?

Student testimonials

  • 'Everybody was friendly and passionate about their lectures'
  • 'Good opportunity to do research in an area of your choice'
  • 'Research progress meetings for Public Health students were good'
  • ‘Research supervision was excellent’
  • 'Excellent mixture of lectures, especially for Public Health students'
  • ‘The small size of the cohort meant it was a very friendly learning environment’


Semester 1

Modules available in 2021-22 are:

  • Applied Public Health
  • Applied Research Methods and Ethics
  • Quantitative & Qualitative Research Methods and Analysis
  • Research Project Design
  • Research Project

Semester 2

Semester 2 is dedicated to the conduction of the 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. Claims must be accompanied by original receipts. Further to this students who incur travel costs are eligible to apply for an Arthur Thomson Travel Award (up to £500). Applications for these awards will be considered at the end of the programme of study and are not guaranteed. These sources of funding are available to all students irrespective of their primary University of study.

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 (International Health, or Public Health and Population Sciences). As this bursary relates to science projects students on humanities programmes (Health Management and Leadership, or History of Medicine) should not apply, but should make contact with the relevant programme lead to enquire whether there are any discipline specific bursaries currently available nationally.
  • 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. 

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

To apply, please complete our online application form

If you have any queries about the application form or process, please contact

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.

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

Each student will have an academic supervisor to oversee their research activity, and may also have a clinical research supervisor. The Programme Leads, Professor Jayne Parry and Dr Derek Ward, will offer support and guidance for all aspects of the course. You will also have access to research and statistics clinics which operate on a booking system and give you the opportunity to discuss specific issues with a relevant academic. 

Past projects

Below are some example projects from recent Public Health students:

  • Factors affecting early and exclusive breastfeeding in a rural population in Zambia
  • A study of the prevalence, health beliefs and health effects of ‘shisha’ smoking amongst university students in the UK
  • Mortality and nutritional status of children admitted to the Keneba Nutritional Rehabilitation Centre, The Gambia from Jan 2003 to June 2005
  • Assessing the extent of drug dependence in young drug users accessing criminal justice services
  • Spinal versus epidural anaesthesia for severe preeclamptic deliveries: a systematic review
  • Prevalence of otitis media with effusion in primary school children in Pokhara, Nepal
  • How do the information needs of cancer patients change as they progress through their cancer journey? A cross-sectional study
  • Impact of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: a qualitative study
  • A scoring system for monitoring first-line antiretroviral therapy in settings where viral load testing facilities are not widely available: retrospective cohort study
  • NICE guidelines for the antimicrobial prophylaxis of infective endocarditis: the response of general dental practitioners
  • Medical students experience of the curriculum relating to family planning and abortion in Kazan, Russia: A qualitative study
  • Stigma and attitudes of medical students towards Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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.

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