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Occupational Hygiene MSc

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Course description

The programme is intended to equip graduates with a wide range of inter-disciplinary knowledge and skills to work in areas related to occupational hygiene, culminating in an academic qualification accredited by the Faculty of Occupational Hygiene (FOH) within the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS). Specifically, graduates will obtain an appreciation of the knowledge necessary to recognise, evaluate and control hazards in the workplace, including chemical, physical and biological agents.

In the taught component of the course, the emphasis is on acquiring a thorough understanding of the theoretical principles and research methodologies underpinning the topic covered by each module. Emphasis is placed on the development of the students' critical appraisal skills and a capacity to lead an occupational health team at a senior management level.

Where appropriate, the dissertation provides an opportunity to develop experience in applying these principles and research methods to a problem of particular interest to the student. The programme structure provides qualifications at the following levels:

  • Postgraduate Certificate in Occupational Hygiene
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Occupational Hygiene
  • MSc in Occupational Hygiene

The programme comprises:

  • A blend of specially commissioned written materials in electronic format (PDF), together with interactive teaching material - all delivered via the University's Virtual Learning Environment, Blackboard
  • In year 1 students are required to attend in Manchester for a 1-day seminar associated with Module 1 in month 3 and the same for Module 2 in month 5 and for one exam day in month 10
  • Students are allocated to tutorial groups for Modules 4 to 8, each supported by a specialist in occupational hygiene. Tutorials are delivered via combined tele- and web-conference
  • In year 2, students are required to attend in Manchester for a 4-day practical course in month 5 and for one exam day in month 10
  • In year 3, students are required to attend a 3-day Research Methods course held at the University in month 1.

Some components of the programme are held jointly with students studying the MSc in Occupational Medicine

Note: All taught course units will be assessed via examinations held at the university at intervals throughout the programme and the final year will be assessed via submission of a dissertation.


The primary objective of the programme is to deliver academic training in most of the disciplines relevant to occupational hygiene. Students proceeding to the MSc will also receive practical training in planning, implementing and interpreting a piece of academic scientific research. In general, the course aims to:

  • Provide an appreciation of the skills necessary to recognise, evaluate and control hazardous substances in the workplace, encompassing hazards such as chemical, physical (e.g. noise, radiation), biological and ergonomic agents
  • Introduce the wide variety of aspects covered within the occupational hygiene discipline such as legislation, toxicological basis for standard setting, methods commonly used to evaluate hazardous agents, and related and overlapping health professions
  • Provide an academic qualification that is accredited by the Faculty of Occupational Hygiene (FOH) within the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS)
  • Give a good foundation on which to build and extend students' knowledge of occupational hygiene during the changes and developments which lie in the years ahead

For those students proceeding to the MSc, the third year aims to:

  • Encourage critical evaluation of ideas and concepts in occupational hygiene and exploration of other philosophical and practical approaches to minimising ill-health in the workplace
  • Develop powers of critical appraisal, analytical thinking and logical argument

Additional course information

All materials are accessed solely online, via the University┬┐s Virtual Learning Environment, Blackboard. Students are therefore advised to check the Entry Requirements section for details of the minimum computer requirements.

Coursework and assessment

Assessment is by eight examination papers, one per course module. The first will be taken at seminar 1 (year 1, month 3) and the second at seminar 2 (year 1, month 5). The remaining year 1 assessments will be taken in month 10. For year 2, assessments will be held in month 5 and 10.

The pass mark for the Module 1 and 2 examinations is 50% across all levels. The pass mark for the Module 3 to 8 examinations is 40% at PGCert and PGDip level and 50% at MSc level.

If students wish to proceed to the MSc they are also required to complete a third year, during which they will attend a mandatory 3-day residential course (in month 1) and then prepare a dissertation.

Course unit details


Module 1: Introduction to Hazards, Risks and the Working Environment

  • Occupational Health in Perspective
  • Introduction to OH Law
  • Historical Development of Occupational Health
  • Hazards and Risks
  • Introduction to Toxicology
  • Introduction to Occupational Hygiene
  • Introduction to Lighting
  • Introduction to Temperature and Work
  • Introduction to Noise and Vibration
  • Introduction to Hazardous Substances
Module 2: Occupational Ill Health
  • Occupational Dermatoses
  • Respiratory Disorders
  • Musculoskeletal Disorders
  • Occupational Cancers
  • Stress Disorders
  • Work-Related Infections
  • Introduction to Epidemiology
  • Health Assessment, Surveillance and Screening
  • Biological Monitoring
Module 3: Health and Workability
  • Workplace Assessment Skills
  • Advanced Occupational Health Law
  • Health Promotion
  • Ageing and Employment
  • Ergonomics
  • Shift Work and Circadian Rhythms
  • Choosing a Research Topic and Literature Review
  • Developing the Research Question
Module 4: Hazardous Substances
  • Factors in Dust Exposure
  • Exposure in Manufacturing Processes
  • Solvents
  • Plastics and Polymers
  • Pesticides
  • Pharmaceuticals and Fine Chemicals
  • Air Sampling
  • Exposure Evaluation/Exposure Modelling
  • Sample Analysis
  • Occupational Exposure for Airborne Substances


Module 5: Understanding Physical Agents

  • Noise
  • Vibration
  • Radiation
  • Compressed Air Work and Commercial Diving
  • Temperature and Work
  • Light and Vision
Module 6: Control of Workplace Hazards
  • Process Control Strategy
  • Ventilation
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Human Behaviours
  • Dermal Exposure
Module 7: Research Methods and Data Analysis
  • Epidemiology and Statistics
  • Evidence Based Medicine (EBM)
  • Critical Appraisal
  • Social Research Methods
  • Information Technology
Module 8: Management of Workplace Hazards
  • Industry and Environment
  • Occupational Hygiene Practice
  • Food Hygiene
  • Prevention of Accidents
  • Principles of Toxicology
  • Global Aspects of Occupational Hygiene

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Support Office. Email: