MSc Occupational Medicine / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Introduction to work-related ill health (September)

Course unit fact file
Unit code POPH68861
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit focuses on a range of morbidities (including respiratory, skin, musculoskeletal, mental health and infectious diseases) associated with work and occupation. Students will develop knowledge and understanding of the causal associations and the current and emerging methods of monitoring, managing and evaluating occupational ill health interventions. The unit also introduces the concept of epidemiology and the principles of health surveillance, assessment and screening.


This unit provides an understanding of the concept of work-related and occupational diseases with specific focus on the mechanisms, recognition and causes of commonly reported diseases. Students will apply this knowledge to understanding the complex factors involved in the manifestation of workplace ill health and develop their understanding of health assessment, surveillance, and health screening.

Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes intend to:

  • provide students with an understanding of the concept of work-related and occupational disease, including types of commonly reported diseases, their recognition, mechanisms and causes; and
  • enable students to describe the concept of epidemiology and its application to health surveillance, health assessment and health screening.


  • Recognising Occupational Disease
  • Introduction to Occupational Dermatology
  • Introduction to Musculoskeletal Disorders
  • Introduction to the Respiratory System
  • Introduction to Occupational Infections
  • Mental Ill Health and Stress at Work
  • Introduction to Epidemiology
  • Health Assessment, Surveillance and Screening
  • Sickness Absence
  • Disability Assessment

Teaching and learning methods

Learning and teaching will take the form of online lectures, webinars, group discussion, tutorial, face to face workshops and practical experience days, where applicable. 

Blackboard and Zoom/Teams will be used for course materials including group discussions, announcements and updating of content, relevant lecture slides and additional reading, written example sheets and for online formative assessments. 

Knowledge and understanding

On completion, students should be able to:

  • display an awareness of system-related occupational disease;
  • understand the nature of evidence required to establish a causal link between occupation and disease or injury; and
  • understand the principles of the interaction between health and work (i.e. effects of work on health and health on work) and understand how to manage such problems.

Intellectual skills

On completion, students should be able to:

  • analyse and evaluate the relevant medical and scientific literature (including web based information) relating to occupational health practice;
  • demonstrate the ability to solve problems and make decisions about occupational health issues; 
  • critically examine knowledge limitations within occupational health, and identify the need to seek further (specialist) advice; and
  • develop powers of critical appraisal, analytical thinking and logical argument to allow evaluation of concepts and/or approaches to occupational health issues. 

Practical skills

On completion, students should be able to:

  • design, carry out, write up, and present studies that allow investigation of work-related incidents, accidents, or disease.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

On completion, students should be able to consider patients’ health in respect to their employment and work tasks.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Students will be able to analyse and evaluate the relevant medical and scientific literature relating to occupational health practice.
Problem solving
Students will be able to design, carry out, write up and present studies that allow investigation of work-related incidents, accidents, or disease.
Written communication
Students will know how to communicate with managers and employers in relation to patients' health and well-being.


Approved by the Faculties of Occupational Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians of London (FOM) and Ireland (FOM-I).

Assessment methods

Description Weighting Length
80 MCQ Examination 60% 1 hour
Written Assessment 40% 1,000 words

Feedback methods

Formative assessments with automatic feedback are available throughout the unit as an aid to understanding the course materials. Feedback for the summative assessment is provided by tutors via Blackboard. Students may also receive direct feedback from interaction with session leaders throughout the course of study. 

Recommended reading

  • Agius R, Seaton A. Practical occupational medicine 2nd ed. London: Hodder Arnold 2005. ISBN 034075947X.   
  • Tar-Ching A, Gardiner K, Harrington, JM. Occupational health (Pocket Consultants) 5th ed. Wiley-Blackwell 2006.  ISBN- 10 1405122218; ISBN-13 978-1405122214.
  • Baxter P, Aw T, Cockroft A, Durrington P, Harrington J. Hunter’s diseases of occupations 10th ed. London: Hodder- Edward Arnold 2010. ISBN 9780340941669.
  • Ford J, Parker G, Ford F, Kloss D, Pickvance S, Sawney P. Rehabilitation for Work Matters. Radcliffe Medical Press 2008. ISBN 101857757866.
  • Hobson J, and Smedley J (Eds). Fitness for work: the medical aspects 6th ed. OUP 2019. ISBN 9780198808657.

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Melanie Carder Unit coordinator
Anne Clayson Unit coordinator

Additional notes

If you have any questions regarding the content of this unit, please contact the Course Unit Leaders, Melanie Carder or Anne Clayson, via or

If you have any other queries, please contact the Programme Admin team via

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