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Health and the Environment MSc/PgDip/PgCert



Environmental issues and their social and economic implications are at the top of every political agenda. Quantifying how much the environment contributes to the burden of cancer, asthma, lung and heart disease opens a new field and demands a new approach and a new breed of scientist.

Designed to equip you with the scientific expertise to assess risk and influence both policy and decision making, the Health and the Environment MSc promotes the development of holistic integrated strategies to tackle emerging environment and health issues.

This course represents a unique offering within the UK and Europe, differentiating itself from established ‘environmental health’ courses by focusing at a guidance level on important fields including chemical regulation and policy, risk assessment and perception, and health impact assessment. Cranfield’s Health and the Environment MSc is developed with input from the Institute of Environmental Health (IEH) and Cranfield University uses its close links with industry to ensure the relevance of the course content.

  • Course overview

    Health and the Environment MSc is part of our Environment Programme. It will provide you with:

    • the scientific expertise to assess the risk of environmental factors
    • the ability to influence decision and policy making
    • the skills to develop integrated strategies – enabling you to minimise the risk of future environment and health issues.

    Learning is intensive, practical and highly relevant to current issues and concerns about environmental impacts on health. You’ll develop an awareness of a number of subjects including:

    • Toxicology
    • Epidemiology
    • Regulatory strategies
    • Risk assessment law
    • Health impact assessment
    • Man-made impacts on the environment.

    Health and the Environment MSc is made up of three components:

    • A formal taught component comprising eight modules
    • Group Project
    • Individual Research Project.
  • Group project

    Group projects provide students with an understanding of working on real challenges in the work place along with skills in team working, managing resources and developing reporting and presentation skills. Many of the projects are supported by external organisations and the experience gained is highly valued by both students and prospective employers. For part-time students a dissertation usually replaces the group project. This element constitutes 20% of the overall mark.

  • Individual project

    The four-month individual research project can be carried out within industry or academia and for part-time candidates it can be undertaken in your place of work. This key part of the course allows you to apply the research skills acquired during the taught phase of the course to a practical problem in health science and acts as an opportunity for you to meet potential future employers.

    This element constitutes 40% of the overall mark.

  • Modules

    The formal taught component of this course comprises eight compulsory modules. Each module is two weeks in duration, consisting of one week of lectures, practical work, site visits and one week for private study. Part-time students attend the first week of each module but may continue with coursework assignments at a suitable time and location. This element constitutes 40% of the overall mark.


    • Introduction to Toxicology and Epidemiology
      Module LeaderDr Ruth Bevan - Senior Lecturer

      To provide an overview of the principles of toxicology and epidemiology with associated ethical considerations and legal guidelines.


      The module covers:

      • Basic principles of toxicology
      • Exposure and mechanisms of toxicity
      • Ethical considerations of laboratory animal use
      • Toxicity testing and regulatory guidelines; associated legal aspects
      • Basic principles of epidemiology.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

      • Demonstrate understanding of the rationale behind toxicology and epidemiology studies
      • Determine the mode of toxicity including identification of exposure routes
      • Demonstrate a conceptual awareness of the arguments involved in the ethics associated with toxicology and epidemiology studies
      • Demonstrate understanding of the importance of testing and regulatory guidelines and associated legal aspects.
    • Mathematical Foundations
      Module LeaderDr Ronnie Lambert - Reader in Applied Microbiology

      To develop competencies in the use and understanding of statistical analysis and its applications.


      The module covers:

      • Mathematical preliminaries (use of Excel)
      • Experimental design
      • Basic comparisons
      • Parametric
      • Non-parametric
      • Anova
      • Basic relationships
      • Correlation
      • Basic regression
      • Multiple regression
      • Residual analysis
      • Reporting statistical data
      • Introduction to Multivariate analysis
      • Case studies in modelling
      • Modelling error (Monte-Carlo)
      • Modelling growth in foods (Food Chain Systems)
      • Modelling for Health and the Environment
      • Models in toxicology and Epidemiology.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

      • Demonstrate a critical  awareness of the use of statistics for the design of experiments
      • Demonstrate an ability to use statistics to report the reliability of relevant experimental observations
      • Demonstrate a critical awareness of the use of modelling and its applicability in relevant areas
      • Demonstrate an ability to discriminate between the types of tests required for the analysis of relevant data and experimental designs.
    • Principles of Toxicology
      Module LeaderDr Ruth Bevan - Senior Lecturer
      AimTo gain an understanding of the types of toxicology studies and guidelines currently in use for a range of exposure pathways to chemicals that may have toxicological significance.

      The module covers:

      • In depth review of toxicity study types
      • Pharmaceutical toxicology including the drug development process
      • Industrial chemical toxicology including REACH regulations and associated tests
      • Toxicology of food including routes of exposure and risk groups.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

      • Demonstrate understanding of the nature of different toxicity tests, including their individual and collective importance and application
      • Demonstrate conceptual awareness of ethical considerations in toxicology including the importance of laboratory animals and alternatives to animal usage
      • Demonstrate understanding of the pharmaceutical, industrial chemical and food development process and associated distinct toxicology requirements
      • Effectively communicate and justify the toxicity tests required to develop a pharmaceutical/chemical/food.
    • Health Diagnostics
      AimTo introduce the diagnostic methods used for the detection and monitoring of biological and chemical stressors in the environment.

      The module covers:

      • Concept of human exposure monitoring – overview of sources and pathways of exposure and exposure assessment approaches
      • Sampling strategies and methodologies
      • Exposure measurements – physical, chemical and biological
      • Analytical equipment and procedures
      • Introduction to biological stressors including bacteria, fungi, toxins
      • Microbiological laboratory methods.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

      • Demonstrate a conceptual understanding of the principles of human exposure monitoring and assessment in different media
      • Critically evaluate the most common analytical procedures and devices used for human exposure monitoring
      • Categorise the main groups and modes of action of micro-organisms acting as stressors in the environment
      • Critically appraise the methods used in the diagnostic microbiology laboratory.
    • Basic Epidemiology and Statistics
      Module LeaderDr Terry Brown - Lecturer
      AimIntroduces the basic concepts and methods of epidemiology.

      The module covers:

      • Measures of disease frequency and effect
      • Study design: cross-sectional, cohort, case-control and intervention studies
      • Interpretation of epidemiological studies: chance, bias, confounding, causality, effect modification
      • Exposure assessment in epidemiology
      • Preventive strategies, measures of public health impact and routine data.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

      • Understand and apply measures of disease incidence and prevalence, and measures of effect (eg. relative and absolute risk)
      • Demonstrate understanding of the basic principles underlying different study designs, including cross-sectional, cohort, case-control and intervention studies
      • Assess strengths and limitations of different study designs
      • Identify problems interpreting epidemiological data: chance, bias, confounding and effect modification
        Be aware of criteria for assessing causality
      • Assess advantages and disadvantages of different preventive strategies, including the use of measures of public health impact to anticipate their potential benefits
      • Assess strengths and limitations of different sources of epidemiological data on health status and health service utilisation in both industrialized and developing countries.
    • Health and Environmental Impact Assessment
      Module LeaderDr Ruth Bevan - Senior Lecturer

      To explore the current best methods available for undertaking Health Impact Assessments (HIAs) for new developments that may impact on human health and well-being.


      The module covers:

      • Components included in undertaking a HIA
      • Relationships between environmental impact assessment, HIA and strategic impact assessment
      • Legal aspects where HIA are required and associated UK and EU laws and regulations
      • Developing a framework strategy for undertaking HIAs
      • Case studies of HIAs (airports, housing and shopping developments, waste management plans, etc.). 
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

      • Demonstrate a conceptual understanding of the overall objective of an  HIA and be in a position to explain how it can be achieved to support a policy need
      • Explain the elements that may be required in an HIA, including the scientific, health as well as the social science elements
      • Relate the HIA to an EIA and show they can be integrated
      • Critically appraise the use of case-studies, and what is meant by ‘good practice’ in a thorough HIA
      • Demonstrate an ability to integrate, de novo, relevant information within a strategy to tackle a HIA as team leader.
    • Risk Assessment and Regulation
      Module LeaderDr Ruth Bevan - Senior Lecturer
      AimTo understand the legal and risk-based regulatory framework for the management of environmental pollution and its impact on human health; to appreciate the importance of the perception of, and attitudes towards, risk and how this influences behaviour and to be able to develop appropriate communication strategies on risk to a range of audiences.

      The module covers:

      • Basic principles of a legal framework: including the use of legislation to achieve policy objectives
      • Current regulatory risk-based regimes: regulators, the regulated, regulatory processes, standards, enforcement, penalties, and impact
      • Current legislation: for environment (water, air and land) protection and pollution control, public health and health and safety, eg. REACH, statutory nuisance, GMO Regulations , Pesticide & Hazardous Substances Directives
      • Case law: examples of how the law works in practice, including attitudes and behaviour
      • What is meant by the perception of risk and how it varies with context and with different stakeholders; such as scientists and the public; regulators and the regulated
      • Attitudes towards risk based on psychological, cultural and other dimensions
      • The role of various societal groups (the media, NGOs, etc) in risk issues; including trust and the rejection of evidence based risk assessment
      • Models of the amplification and attenuation of risk
      • Understanding the “fright factors” in risk perception and how to communicate risk messages to individuals, groups and society at large.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

      • Demonstrate an understanding of the basic principles of a legal framework and of the risk based regulatory tools for delivering policy objectives
      • Describe the regulatory regime (Government Departments, the regulators & the regulated, national & international standards) and explain how it works in practice
      • Identify and explain the UK, EU and international legislation for environment protection, pollution control, public health, and health & safety
      • Apply policy and legal requirements to specific environment and health issues/scenarios
      • Appreciate that in risk assessment, the “science” is only part of the overall risk analysis and that understanding perception and attitudes, along with communication is equally important
      • Demonstrate an insight into the drivers that may influence individual or group perceptions and attitudes towards risk
      • Participate in the discourse on the roles in society of the media, NGOs, academics, government etc with respect to risk assessment issues and to appreciate why they have the beliefs they hold
      • Demonstrate ability to develop effective means of communication to suit specific or general situations.
  • Assessment

    Modules - coursework which may take the form of a portfolio, debate, lab report or presentation. Group Project - written document and presentations. Individual Research Project - combination of a submitted thesis and oral presentation.

  • Start date, duration and location

    Start date: October

    Duration: One year full-time, two-three years part-time

    Teaching location: Cranfield

  • Overview

    Our students benefit from expert input from Cranfield’s world-renowned Institute of Environment and Health (IEH). IEH actively works with government and industry to promote a healthier environment by focusing on the interactions between the environment and human health.

    IEH has an international reputation for their expertise in researching how current environmental issues influence public health. Our wealth of partners includes well known government agencies such as Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Health Protection Agency (HPA), the Environment Agency, environmental departments within local government, and chemical companies within industry.

    These partnerships inform the relevancy of our MSc, helping to provide our students with exciting research projects, and expose them to real-life business concerns before they even graduate. Typical projects include examining air pollution, environmentally-associated cancers and newly emerging infectious chemical and biological agents such as SARS and avian flu.

    Our students come from the UK and a combination of European and International countries. You’ll therefore experience working closely with people from different cultures and backgrounds – essential skills for your future career.

    There are 15 places available on this course – class sizes are kept relatively small to help create an interactive environment and to ensure each student receives excellent support from our academic team.

  • Informed by industry

    Our MSc in Health and the Environment benefits from input from an industry advisory panel (with representatives from commercial organisations and non-commercial organisations) who help to ensure the course maintains its real-world relevance to the marketplace and industry focus, making successful students highly sought after in the employment market.

    The panel for this course comprises scientists and consultants from organisations such as:

    • The Health Protection Agency (HPA)
    • Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
    • Environment Agency
    • Environmental departments within local government, and
    • Chemical companies within industry.
  • Your teaching team

    In addition, students benefit from a programme of visiting lecturers from industry. Students can expect to be addressed by professionals from the Health Protection Agency (HPA), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Health & Safety Laboratory (HSL), local government, plus a number of consultants

  • Facilities and resources

    Course specific facilities

    Cranfield Health houses analytical and microbiological laboratories for method development in detection of pollutants and toxins in the environment, and in clinical samples.

    Health and Bioscience facilities

    Part of a £30 million investment by the University and on a par with those found in the commercial sector. Our state-of-the-art laboratories are used for contractual research that we do for companies, which feeds into our own forward-thinking research, and in turn, informs our cutting-edge teaching programmes.

    University facilities

    Library Services

    The Cranfield Library and Information Service on campus offers an extensive collection of books, journals and as well as access to nearly 200 databases and over 8,500 electronic journals.

    Computer Access

    There is 24 hour access to a fully networked personal computer centre on site with cutting edge equipment and fast broadband connections.

    Distance Learning Support

    24 hour distance learning support is provided to all students via ‘Blackboard’, a virtual learning environment to which all students on the course are automatically registered. Blackboard is the primary means of contact by all University staff for information (including course handbooks, timetables and lecture materials). In addition, the Course Director can provide you with email and telephone support, if required.

  • Entry Requirements

    A first or second class honours degree from a UK university, or equivalent, in a scientific discipline such as environmental health, biological and chemical sciences, medicine or environmental science or candidates with appropriate professional experience.

    The course is suitable for new graduates from a science or technology background who are interested in a career within the fields of health and environment. The course is also ideal for professionals already working in the industry who would like to train to further their careers. Available on a full and part-time basis the course offers flexibility and support for those who wish to train whilst remaining in employment.

    English language

    If you are an international student you will need to provide evidence that you have achieved a satisfactory test result in an English qualification. The minimum standard expected from a number of accepted courses are as follows:

    IELTS - 6.5

    TOEFL - 92 

    TOEIC - 800 (Important: this test is not currently accepted by the UK Home Office for Tier 4 (General) visa applications)

    Pearson PTE Academic - 65

    Cambridge English: Advanced - C

    Cambridge English: Proficiency - C

    In addition to these minimum scores you are also expected to achieve a balanced score across all elements of the test. We reserve the right to reject any test score if any one element of the test score is too low.

    We can only accept tests taken within two years of your registration date (with the exception of Cambridge English tests which have no expiry date).

    Students requiring a Tier 4 (General) visa will also need to meet the UKBA Tier 4 General Visa English language requirements. The UK Home Office are not currently accepting TOEFL or TOEIC tests for Tier 4 (General) visa applications. Other restrictions from the UK Home Office may apply from time to time and we will advise applicants of these restrictions where appropriate.

  • Fees

    Home/EU student

    MSc Full-time - £9,000


    The annual registration fee is quoted above. An additional fee of £1,300 per module is also payable.

    MSc Part-time - £1,500 *

    PgDip Full-time - £7,200

    PgDip Part-time - £1,500 *

    PgCert Full-time - £3,600

    PgCert Part-time - £1,500 *

    Overseas student

    MSc Full-time - £17,500


    For taught courses where the registration is 2 years or longer, students will be offered the option of paying the full fee up front, or to pay in four equal instalments at six month intervals (i.e. the full fee to be paid over the first two years of their registration). For courses lasting less than two years, students will be offered the option of paying the full fee up front, or to pay in four equal instalments at three month intervals.

    MSc Part-time - £17,500 **

    PgDip Full-time - £14,000

    PgDip Part-time - £14,000 **

    PgCert Full-time - £7,000

    PgCert Part-time - £7,000 **

    Fee notes:

    • The fees outlined here apply to all students whose initial date of registration falls on or between 1 August 2015 and 31 July 2016 and the University reserves the right to amend fees without notice.
    • All students pay the tuition fee set by the University for the full duration of their registration period agreed at their initial registration.
    • Additional fees for extensions to registration may be charged.
    • Fee eligibility at the Home/EU rate is determined with reference to UK Government regulations. As a guiding principle, EU nationals (including UK) who are ordinarily resident in the EU pay Home/EU tuition fees, all other students (including those from the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) pay Overseas fees.
  • Funding

    Bursaries may be available, however please be aware that funding will, in most cases, only be discussed once you have secured a firm offer of a place on the course. Please contact the Enquiries Office for further details.
  • Application process

    Online application form. UK students are normally expected to attend an interview and financial support is best discussed at that time. Overseas and EU students may be interviewed by telephone.

  • Career opportunities

    The environment sector is a large and dynamic employer - the growing concerns surrounding the health effects of large-scale changes such as global warming are leading the industry towards a new generation of environmental practitioners whose principal focus will be human health.

    Upon successful completion of the course, graduates will be able to pursue or enhance careers in a variety of key areas such as central and local government, or become a professional scientist and advisor for government departments and agencies focusing on strategy, policy and regulatory issues. The course additionally provides career progression for environmental health officers moving into regulatory roles.

    Industry: Pursue a diverse range of career opportunities including chemical manufacturers for product development and registration, other consumer products for regulatory aspects, occupational health and safety functions, and environmental management.

    Environmental consultancies: Work on a diverse range of projects often concerning contaminated land where environmental and health impact assessments are carried out.

    Public health: The course offers career progression for medical professionals moving into the public health arena, in the management of delivery of services, dealing with new initiatives and managing responses to disease outbreaks.

    Research: Pursue a career in research by conducting a relevant PhD study.

    Cranfield graduates are very successful in achieving relevant work. Some 93% are in relevant employment or further study six months after graduation. For professionals already in industry, Cranfield qualifications enhance their careers, benefiting both the candidate and their employer.

    Cranfield Careers Service

    Our Careers Service can help you find the job you want after leaving Cranfield. We will work with you to identify suitable opportunities and support you in the job application process for up to three years after graduation.

    Cranfield Alumni

    Thousands of graduates continue the ‘Cranfield experience’ after they leave by keeping in touch with colleagues and friends through free membership of Cranfield Alumni.