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Brunel University Offers Unique Doctorate in Public Health, Marrying Research, Practice and Policy

Brunel University today announces details of a new three-year course offering a Doctorate in Public Health, starting in October 2006. The course fills a gap in the market for public health courses targeted at those wishing to find, or further careers in public health. The doctorate is unique for two reasons - it is cross-disciplinary, with staff from Social Sciences disciplines, as well as Health Sciences, involved in the teaching and research, and students will receive a practical as well as theoretical education in public health, preparing graduates for leadership in the world of public health, rather than academia.

The doctorate, aimed at those currently working in non-governmental organisations, local government, or the NHS who would like to supplement their practical knowledge with an academic qualification, was built following consultation not only with the Royal Society of Health, but also with UNICEF, Tropical Disease Research Programme (WHO) and Primary Care Trusts across the UK.

The course spans three years, and is divided into four sections of two periods each, beginning with a research-led course-work module, followed by three complementary placements, each focusing on research, policy and practice. Each of the three placements will generate a publishable paper, with the final period spent on assimilating the knowledge gained to create an overall body of work. The Centre has strong links with the Royal Society of Health and the course is likely to be able to offer students a wide range of placements within the Royal Society's affiliate or member organisations (for example, UK NGOs, as well as numerous overseas organisations which have links with the Society).

Comments Prof. Pascale Allotey, one of the course designers at Brunel: “We've put a great deal of effort into developing this course and are confident that it will provide students with both a theoretical and practical understanding of public health issues. We spoke to a number of organisations involved in public health to gain input on what kind of skills they look for so that we can ensure the students will have a high chance of securing either jobs in public health, or promotions if they have prior experience.“

“We were also keen to build relationships with organisations to try to provide students with as many options for work placements as possible, both in the UK and abroad. We're not competing with those courses which have a strong bio-medical focus or train academics: Public Health at Brunel is grounded in the Social Sciences and the aim of Brunel's course is to train tomorrow's public health leaders.“

Professor Richard Parish, chief executive for the Royal Society of Health, adds: “This course looks set to meet the desperate need for professional doctorates in public health. Public health is rising up the political agenda as more policy-makers and planners realise that so much of today's ill health, in both the UK and overseas, is avoidable. We need people with high levels of knowledge and skills, whether it is to help minimise tomorrow's avian flu pandemic or the growing obesity problem. Put simply, public health is extremely expensive when it is carried out ineffectively and inefficiently, but can deliver phenomenal social and economic benefits when carried out correctly. This initiative has the full support of the Royal Society of Health.“

Brunel's Doctorate in Public Health is designed to build on the standards set by the Faculty of Public Health and the work of the Voluntary Register for Public Health Specialists.