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Postgraduate Certificate - Research and Challenges in International Health

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Deadline: 1 July 2023


20 ECTS Credits



About the course


This Postgraduate Certificate programme consists of two short courses:

  • Research Approaches in International Health
  • Challenges in International Health


Are you a health professional interested in international health, and you want to strengthen your research skills or to sow the seeds of your future academic career, including a Master or PhD training? Then this Postgraduate Certificate Programme is for you!  

Research Approaches in International Health


Using evidence-based decision-making is of paramount importance in public health to ensure that interventions are effective, reach the targeted population, and align with available resources. Understanding and appreciating research approaches are fundamental in the process of interpreting and using research findings.  

This is an introductory course to research approaches in international health. It covers different research disciplines, including epidemiology and statistics, social sciences, and implementation research. It prepares you to recognise, appraise and use a variety of health research methods, both quantitative and qualitative.  

Completion of this introductory course component is a pre-requisite to follow advanced course components on research methods, advanced epidemiology and statistics. 


The short course “Research approaches In International Health” focuses on different research approaches and their challenges. The course will provide you with the basic skills needed to apply descriptive epidemiology and inferential statistics, to visualise and interpret quantitative data and to recognise the value and good practices of a qualitative research approach. In addition, the course develops your competence to critically appraise research approaches (e.g. ethics, study design, methods and conclusions) and to interpret results in the scientific literature.  


The course integrates the expertise of an interdisciplinary ITM teaching team including epidemiologists, population health scientists, statisticians, social scientists and health systems scientists. You will learn from the scientific expertise and field experience of a multidisciplinary teaching team and from your collaboration with a diverse group of fellow students.

Challenges in International Health


Recent diseases outbreaks such as the Ebola virus and the COVID-19 pandemic, and humanitarian emergencies due to the climate crises have urged health actors globally to recognise the need for improved crisis preparedness and emergency response. Due to demographic transitions, countries are faced with a rise in non-communicable diseases? while the prevention and control of infectious diseases still pose major challenges. Policy makers and governments need to ensure universal access to good quality care for all while paying particular attention to people in vulnerable situations.  

Some dichotomies such as local versus global, tropical versus non-tropical, communicable versus non-communicable, imported versus domestic are losing their relevance. International health needs to encompass all these perspectives/dimensions. 

These challenges require context-adapted and multidisciplinary responses. Evidence from basic and implementation research will be important to guide decision makers and health workers across the globe. 


This 12-week course on “Challenges in International Health” will provide you with a good understanding of the complex picture of health challenges globally in general and in deprived, vulnerable settings in particular. Through case studies from various settings, you will analyse the social, anthropological, political, economic and ecological determinants of health, and address health problems from different perspectives including disease control, health service organisation and health policies. You will gain understanding of the complexity of health challenges and learn how to develop, implement, and evaluate health interventions and formulate communication strategies. The course will give you both the theoretical and practical toolsets you need to advance your career. 


Together with the teaching staff and a diverse group of course participants, you will discuss case studies from various contexts fostering international exchange and comparative analysis.  

Learning objectives

Upon completion of the course Research Approaches in International Health, you will be able to: 

  • Determine the importance of evidence for decision-making 
  • Summarise the role and scope of research in international health 
  • Distinguish between the perspectives of different research disciplines and domains in international health: epidemiology, social sciences, and health policy and systems research  
  • Explain the difference between and the complementarity of qualitative and quantitative approaches in research 
  • Recognise research discipline and study design in a scientific article and interpret the findings 
  • Critically appraise the quality of the evidence in a scientific article 
  • Identify and appraise issues related to research ethics in a scientific article  
  • Apply concepts and methods of epidemiology and statistics 
  • Analyse quantitative (research and routine) data using the statistical software “R” 
  • Judge the value and good practices of a qualitative research approach 
  • Clearly communicate the results of different research approaches 

Upon completion of the course Challenges in International Health, you will be able to: 

1. Regarding health problems prevention and control: 

  • Assess the importance and burden of a particular health problem in terms of frequency, severity, inequity, socio-economic cost and perception  
  • Discuss the different risk factors and determinants (ecological, genetic, social, economic, behavioral, health system related) of health and well-being of populations  
  • Formulate evidence-based and context-specific health programmes/interventions taking the available resources and the perspectives of stakeholders into account in both stable and emergency settings 
  • Address implementation challenges in the prevention and control of key health problems with particular attention for screening, surveillance, outbreak investigation, control and elimination and emergency responses using multisectoral approaches  

2. On health systems management and policies:  

  • Assess a variety of (local) health systems in terms of access, quality of care, organisation of services delivery, stewardship and intersectoral interfaces and collaborations  
  • Critically appraise the crisis preparedness and responsiveness of health systems and health policies to current and emerging challenges  
  • Discuss the major issues in international/global health policy and the development agenda (SDGs) including the role and agency of health policy actors at all levels  

3. Generic skills  

  • Effectively collaborate and clearly communicate in a multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural setting  
  • Search information in reliable sources and appraise the quality of evidence   
  • Show evidence of a critical and value-based attitude  
  • Choose and apply effective approaches for problem-analysis and problem-solving  
  • Develop life-long learning skills. 

Tuition fee

€ 2020 EEA / 6100 non-EEA