MPH Public Health (Web-based Learning) / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Digital Public Health

Course unit fact file
Unit code POPH65022
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Division of Population Health, Health Services Research and Primary Care
Available as a free choice unit? No


As public health professionals, it is important to understand the implications of digital innovation for public health and people’s everyday lives, including health and wellbeing. Digital technology is rapidly changing the way people live, interact, learn, and work. This offers new opportunities for health professionals to interact with and engage people, and digital tools offer new ways to gather and analyse data and subsequently improve public health. It also entails challenges, e.g. relating to data protection, and the digital divide. It is crucial that public health professionals and researchers are aware of the implications these rapid developments have for public health provision models, data, governance, partnership and engagement. The course unit also offers opportunity for students to develop transferable skills such as critical appraisal and evidence synthesis. The unit is relevant internationally and uses international examples and case studies to demonstrate concepts and application in a range of different settings.

This is an interactive online course. Students must work through the online course material. Students are encouraged to use the Blackboard discussion boards to ask questions and check their understanding of the course material.


  • To synthesise the impacts of digital technologies and tools on, and implications for health
  • To provide an introduction to digital public health and the policies and actions taken around the world to integrate technology into public health efforts, both in terms of research and practice
  • To develop an understanding of digital health interventions and digital data collection and analysis tools which will allow public health professionals to create policies and practices and design and deliver appropriate services for the setting in which they work

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit, successful course members will be able to:

  • Understand, synthesise and analyse the implications of digital technologies for public health, in different areas of the world and locally, and incorporate these into existing public health models
  • Understand the measures aimed at harnessing digital technologies for disease prevention, disease management and wellbeing
  • Understand how digital health interventions and data collection/analysis tools can be incorporated into research and practice
  • Analyse policies and interventions on digital health and evaluate their impact on health
  • Appraise and evaluate research using examples from disparate aspects of digital health, both locally and globally
  • Appraise the opportunities and challenges involved in incorporating digital tools into public health research and practice
  • Develop critical appraisal skills and communication skills to enable evidenced discussions around the opportunities and challenges of digital health technologies
  • Apply their understanding of digital tools and health impacts to the development of real-world solutions


•       Introduction to digital public health, digital policies and relevant key concepts e.g. Internet/Web, social media, apps, Internet of Things, cybersecurity, digital divide

•       Overview of digital data collection and analysis tools: Mobile phone surveys, wearables, sensors, other devices, discussion of data reliability/ validity /integrity/ accuracy/ timeliness/security and challenges (e.g. data security); introduction of case studies of digital collection tools used in UK and other global locations;

•       Medical Internet of Things, Connected Systems and Big Data in Healthcare: Definition of key terms (IoT, Connected Systems, Big Data); examples of their uses in health (e.g. healthcare monitoring and control, pervasive healthcare, drug interaction checking); discussion of future trends and directions in this field; cybersecurity and data protection

•       Use of digital technology in healthcare delivery and health surveillance: Examples and case studies of how technology is currently used in healthcare delivery (e.g. digital dashboards, electronic health records, digital appointment scheduling, diagnostic tools)

•       Digital health interventions: Overview of digital health interventions, case studies and examples of their use in health promotion and disease management; approaches and frameworks for developing digital health interventions; discussion of advantages and challenges and different evaluation methods

Teaching and learning methods

This online course unit will include text provided by the tutors and required and additional reading of articles, policies and media publications. It will include reflective study tasks, and topic-based discussions hosted on Blackboard. There will be a graded, mid-term formative assessment, complemented by ungraded, self-administered quizzes for students to gage their own progress. A final graded, summative, written assignment will be set. Material provided will be diverse in nature, and include peer-reviewed publications (accessed through the University library), and key publications from international research and conferences. Media articles and videos will also be included to demonstrate the implications and impacts of digital innovation in the context of health. Digital health specialists will be invited for recorded interviews, allowing students to obtain insights from experts in the field. Throughout the unit, all participants are encouraged to link the course materials to their experiences in every day practice. All students will receive written feedback following the mid and final summative assignments.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Students will critically analyse how digital innovations can impact on healthcare delivery, health promotion, and disease management.
Group/team working
Students will discuss and analyse course material in online discussion forums.
Project management
Students will need to demonstrate understanding of project management skills in their choice of approach to the assignments and use planning techniques to ensure their completion.

Assessment methods

Assessment task


Weighting within Unit (if relevant

Midterm Assignment

1,500 words


Final Assignment

3,000 words



Feedback methods

Students will be provided with personalised feedback for their mid-term and final summative assignments, within 15 working days for mid-term assignments and 20 working days for final submission.

Further opportunities for formative feedback (on non-assessed work) will also be provided during a course unit.

Recommended reading

This topic needs to reflect on the newest findings and needs to remain at the cutting edge of research and innovation; therefore recently published peer-reviewed articles, conference proceedings, and grey literature will form the majority of required reading.

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Arpana Verma Unit coordinator

Additional notes

For further information please watch this video from our former Course Unit Leader.

If you have any questions about the content of this unit, please contact the Programme Director, Professor Arpana Verma, via email on If you have any other queries, please contact the PGT programme administrators via email on

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