About the programme

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Helping to tackle major chronic diseases

Chronic disease accounts for a large proportion of the burden of disease in high-income countries. Much of this burden is due to powerful 'upstream' determinants (including poverty, poor housing, environmental pollution, exposure to crime, discrimination, inequitable economic growth), and because of this, health is unfairly distributed in society.

Upstream determinants have a complex interaction with 'downstream' behavioural factors (for example, smoking, alcohol consumption, poor diet and physical inactivity), which themselves have negative effects on health. 

Together, upstream and downstream factors form a complex system of interdependent influences, and cutting-edge Public Health Decision Science seeks to understand this system in order to identify interventions (and combinations of interventions) that can maximise health benefit while also reducing health inequity.

Health economists studying data on a computer

In a resource-constrained environment, there is an urgent need for a highly skilled workforce who can effectively interpret diverse evidence and data sources and who can undertake economic evaluation to support resource allocation decisions. 

Public Health Decision Science provides estimates of the long-term impact of public health policies for different population subgroups, including detailed analysis of costs and benefits.

Decision-makers in the UK and internationally require evidence on:

Development and synthesis of new scientific evidence is crucial to answering these challenging questions.

Individually tailored training

Our programme is structured to allow students to define their own learning trajectory, in discussion with their programme tutors.

The first year of the programme offers a unique training opportunity. Students attend a bespoke selection of four taught masters modules which complement their previous background and interests, engage in cohort-based research training activities, engage with senior scientists and meet public health leaders in monthly ‘meet a decision maker’ sessions.

Rotations through three ‘research attachments’ chosen from a list of options will allow students to develop experience of working in different topic areas and with different potential supervisors before making a final decision about the direction of their own PhD thesis work, and an appropriate supervisory panel, in years two to four of the programme.

Novel multidisciplinary working

Public Health Decision Science is an exciting cross-disciplinary area of research that draws on skills from across traditional departmental boundaries, including, for example:

Inside the Faculty of Social Sciences building at the University of Sheffield

Our mission is to enable the highest calibre postgraduate researchers to build on their existing discipline-specific knowledge, and to complement this with training in another field.

To develop a true multidisciplinary cohort of scientists, we support excellent graduates from health and related disciplines in developing advanced quantitative analytical skills; and equip top graduates from mathematics, economics, systems engineering and related disciplines with public health training and methodological expertise.