MSc Disaster Healthcare (Online Delivery)

The online Masters in Disaster Healthcare - the only course of its kind in the UK - is aimed at healthcare, armed forces and NGO professionals working in the humanitarian field or aspiring to do so. 

It will prepare you to provide high quality care to vulnerable populations in conflict zones, and disaster emergencies through humanitarian assistance. 

A key element of the Disaster Healthcare course is its strong international and trans-cultural focus. You will study the key areas of theory and practice that are relevant to healthcare in complex humanitarian disasters, from resilience and response to mitigation and recovery.

You will also develop your knowledge on how to reduce disaster risks and improve public health, and develop skills in public health, research and leadership.

The Disaster Healthcare course involves studying via distance learning, plus an annual two-week residential summer school in the UK or Finland at the beginning of the course. 

2020/21 update: Blended learning approach for USW courses.

The wellbeing and health and safety of our students and staff is paramount to us. We are committed to delivering all of our courses and services as safely as possible. Due to the pandemic, the methods and activities adopted for the coming year may differ from those previously published and may be subject to further change through the course of your study if such change is necessary due to public health concerns, health and safety guidance or in response to Government Guidelines. USW is committed to providing you with a fantastic student experience and a wealth of support, and you can hear how students have benefitted from this approach here: Learn more about blended learning.

Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
Part-time 3 Years August On Line 8
Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
Part-time 3 Years August On Line 8
  • Public Health in Disasters 1 (20 credits)
    This will develop a critical awareness of a range of approaches to public health in disasters in order to understanding the complex relationship between environmental health, epidemiology and the nutritional health of individuals, families and communities affected by disasters.

  • Public Health in Disasters 2 (20 credits)
    This will develop an in-depth understanding of the health needs of vulnerable groups within a community affected by disaster. To equip participants with the knowledge and skills required to generate novel solutions to complex problems in implementing and evaluating effective public health interventions.

  • Researching and Evaluating Disasters (40 credits)
    The aim of the research study is to provide the student with the skills to undertake, and present the findings of, a research study or evaluation project from within the discipline of disaster healthcare.

  • Personal Preparedness for Disasters (20 credits)
    This will equip students with the knowledge and skills to allow then to perform effectively in austere disaster relief environments characterised by insecurity, uncertainty, complexity and rapid change.

  • Principles and Concepts in Disasters (20 credits)
    To gain a broad and detailed knowledge of the principles and concepts that underpin disaster vulnerability, preparation and response including defining disasters and disaster typologies; linear and cyclical models of disaster management; the nature of disaster vulnerability; the relationship between humanitarian assistance and development aid; national, regional and international organisation of disaster response and current issues and complexities in disaster planning and response.

  • Professional Practice in Disasters (20 credits) - Optional
    This will provide students with direct experience of working and living in a disaster affected or disaster vulnerable zone in order to facilitate a synthesis of knowledge and skills gained in previous areas of study.

  • Evidence Based Practice in Disasters Running (20 credits)
    To equip students with the skills to become knowledge creators and knowledge users in order to deliver evidence informed practice in response to disasters of undertaking disaster healthcare research.

  • Critical Reflection on Learning in the Workplace (Disaster Preparation and Response) (20 credits) - Optional
    The overall aim of this module is to enable the learner to engage in critical reflection of their learning though their work experience.

  • Planning for Disasters and Civil Contingencies (20 credits) - Optional
    To equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to plan appropriate and effective responses to disaster risks including human factors in disaster planning and response, and principles of risk management.

  • Professional Practice Project (Non Clinical) (40 credits) - Optional
    To provide opportunity for students to apply knowledge and skills developed during the course of study, to the analysis and evaluation of a practice development.


You can exit the Disaster Healthcare course in year one with a Postgraduate Certificate (PgCert) - 60 credits.  You can exit the course in year two with a Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) - 120 credits.



Each year begins with a two week residential summer school in either the UK or in Finland. Summer School includes a week of simulation exercises in the field followed by a week of classes to introduce the forthcoming modules. The 2019 Summer School will be based in the UK/Northern Ireland and runs from 8 – 15 September 2019

The remainder of the Disaster Healthcare course is studied online and involves studying online learning materials, engagement in online discussions and exercises, and self-directed study. On-line self directed learning is supported by real-time web based tutorials that are timetabled. All tutorials are recorded.

The final year of the MSc Disaster Healthcare course includes a 12-week placement in either disaster response, humanitarian assistance of disaster risk reduction.

You will be taught by an international teaching faculty from a range of backgrounds with field expertise in disaster and emergency response, public health, and humanitarian assistance.



Modules will be assessed throughout the Disaster Healthcare course using essays, research proposals and field work study. Field placements scheduled for August/ September form a central and compulsory feature of the course structure.


The teaching team includes experts in nursing, midwifery, mental health, armed forces and more.

Key staff are:

Jeff Evans, course leader
Teresa Filipponi
Nigel Taylor
Patrick Deeny
George Kernohan
Hanna Oommen

If you have any questions about the Disaster Healthcare course, please contact Jeff Evans for an informal discussion.

Applicants must have an:

  • Honours degree or
  • a postgraduate diploma in a relevant subject or
  • a recognised equivalent qualification
  • IELTS 6.5 is required for non-English speakers

Applications are welcome from healthcare and social welfare professionals, community health workers, NGO staff, healthcare managers and logisticians.

Usual accreditation of prior and experiential learning (APEL)/accreditation of prior and certificated learning (APCL) requirements apply.

The deadline for applications is 30 July, 2018.

Please note: this course is not represented at the Postgraduate Open Evening. If you have any questions about the course, please feel free to contact Jeff Evans for an informal discussion.

The course welcomes international applicants and requires an English level of IELTS 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component or equivalent.

Full-time fees are per year. Part-time fees are per 20 credits. Once enrolled, the fee will remain at the same rate throughout the duration of your study on this course.

August 2020 - July 2021 Fees

  • Part-time UK and EU:  £1000 per 20 credits

August 2021 - July 2022 Fees

  • Part-time UK and EU: TBC

Additional Costs

Students have access to a wide range of resources including textbooks, publications, and computers in the University’s library and via online resources. In most cases they are more than sufficient to complete a course of study. Where there are additional costs, either obligatory or optional, these are detailed below. Of course students may choose to purchase their own additional personal resources/tools over and above those listed to support their studies at their own expense. All stationery and printing costs are at a student’s own expense.

Apply directly to the University for this course.

Admissions statement 

Graduates of the MSc Disaster Healthcare course find work with national healthcare providers, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and inter-government organisations. Graduates have taken up key posts with the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) and Red Crescent Societies, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department of Health, the armed forces and with NGOs in Sudan, Iraq, Angola and Afghanistan.

Our Careers and Employability Service

As a USW student, you will have access to advice from the Careers and Employability Service throughout your studies and after you graduate.

This includes: one-to-one appointments from faculty based Career Advisers, in person, over the phone or even on Skype and through email via the "Ask a Question" service. We also have extensive online resources for help with considering your career options and presenting yourself well to employers. Resources include psychometric tests, career assessments, a CV builder, interview simulator and application help. Our employer database has over 2,000 registered employers targeting USW students, you can receive weekly email alerts for jobs.

Our Careers service has dedicated teams: A central work experience team to help you find relevant placements; an employability development team which includes an employability programme called Grad Edge; and an Enterprise team focused on new business ideas and entrepreneurship.