Dr Francine Watkins, Senior Lecturer in Public Health & Director of Studies, University of Liverpool

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Our Interview Series is designed to inspire & encourage students to pursue a career in the myriad sectors within global public health.

Dr Francine Watkins, Senior Lecturer in Public Health & Director of Studies at the University of Liverpool, joins us today to discuss public health education.

#1 Can you tell us about the Master of Public Health at the University of Liverpool?

The eLearning Master of Public Health Programme is a completely online degree programme which is offered to students worldwide by the University of Liverpool through its partnership with Laureate Online Education. The Programme covers a range of topics from a Public Health perspective. The programme was first offered in 2006 and currently has 891 students enrolled. The programme is designed for Public Health professionals and managers and provides the opportunity to improve their effectiveness in tackling public health problems. The programme is particularly likely to assist in the achievement of the millennium development goals of improving maternal and child health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases and the reduction of poverty.

#2 How long does a typical Master of Public Health take at University of Liverpool? What is the maximum and minimum time of completion?

Students usually take between three and four years to complete the programme, studying modules sequentially.

#3 What do you think makes the Master of Public Health at University of Liverpool stand out from other Online MPH programs?

As a result of the success of the MPH programme and other programmes offered in partnership with Laureate, the University of Liverpool is recognised as being a leader in online education in the UK. The programme is 100% online, interactive, asynchronous programme so students are able to study at times which suit them. Due to the nature of the online teaching students can immediately implement their learning into their work contexts as they discuss and learn with likeminded individuals in small ‘virtual’ classes of up to 21 people. Learning materials are provided in the classrooms and are available through the University of Liverpool online library website. These readings are supplemented by lecture notes, designed and written for the specific modules by specialists in the field and informed by up-to-date research. These are available to read online and to print off. Podcasts and video materials are also provided to support different elements of the modules and transcripts are also provided for these. All students then have to post discussion responses over 4 days – again researched and substantive – further exploring the materials and questions building on each other’s contributions. This then takes the form of an asynchronous discussion facilitated by an expert online teacher. All these contributions are then assessed and graded. Students therefore get immediate feedback from their online teacher but also feedback through their interactions with their peer group.

#4 What are the advantages to earning a MPH degree?

Our MPH will allow you to make a difference to the community in which you work by providing you with the skills and knowledge to implement public health strategies and develop effective interventions. The MPH will help provide the skills to become an effective leader, researcher, implementer and manager in public health as it covers the core principles of public health – including prevention, promotion and protection as well as developing strong research skills.

#5 Does the University of Liverpool offer job placement for students who graduate in public health?

The University of Liverpool is always looking for opportunities to offer placements and Doctorate opportunities for suitable graduates with a strong grounding in public health.

#6 What type of financial aid packages are available for students in public health? Are there any fellowships, grants and scholarships available?

In the last academic year we were awarded 15 full Commonwealth Scholarships all of which were successfully allocated to students wanting  to study on the programme. We intend to repeat this for the next academic year. Discounts on fees are also often available and we routinely review our fees to ensure we can remain competitive.

#7 What advice do you have for students who are considering public health for their graduate study?

Public Health is an excellent area of study for anyone wanting to work in the health field. The breadth of knowledge and skills that a student will achieve will place them in a competitive position within the field of health and having an MPH will signal to an employer that the person has managerial potential due to the nature of their training and development. An MPH is a key indicator for those within the field to know that the graduate has a strong foundation in the core principles and core competencies required for anyone wanting to work in public health.

#8 What do you enjoy most about your position at the University of Liverpool?

My position as Director of Studies for the online MPH allows me the opportunity to bring high quality public health postgraduate training to a range of health professionals for whom the opportunity to study abroad has previously been unavailable because they cannot leave their home, job or life to study overseas. All of our students enrich our programme because they are tackling real public health problems everyday and they bring these extraordinary experiences into the class. Knowing that we are providing high quality public health training to these professionals so they can do their jobs more efficiently and more effectively is extremely rewarding.

For more information on the Master of Public Health Online at the University of Liverpool.

Thank you Francine, for sharing and participating in this piece.

That concludes our interview!

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