Online Diploma in Population Health & Health Services Research Education

Course Description

The Online Postgraduate Level 9 Diploma in Population Health and Health Services Research comprehensively introduces you to the field of population health and health services research by building theoretical, contextual and practical knowledge and skills.

This innovative joint award of The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork brings together the best expertise in population health and health services research. It is designed for busy health care and health system professionals working across the sector who wish to develop and/or build on their existing expertise in population health and health services research. The Postgraduate Diploma is delivered using a blended format of online content with interactive webinars and discussion forums and allows you the flexibility to engage with coursework at a time and place suitable to you.


Qualification:Postgraduate Diploma in Population Health and Health   Services Research
Duration: 2 years part-time
Mode of delivery: Online (2 in class days) : interactive lectures, discussion forums, webinars and discussion forums
Assessment:6 written assignments and e-activities
NFQ Level:Level 9
Joint Awarding Bodies:The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork
Course Fees:Irish/EU applicants: €2,767 per annum

International applicants: €5,342 per annum

*Additional fee for statistical software licence ~€48

*Each institution has its own defined local registration fee ~€50

Delivery and Design

Module 1: Perspectives on Population Health and Health Services Research (PHHSR) (2019/2020)

Module Objective: To provide students with an in-depth review of population health and health services research (PHHSR), and the different but complementary approaches to health research of individual-level health behaviours and outcomes, and population health perspectives.

Module Content: This foundation module prepares students to describe and discuss the major determinants of health and disease in the population, and to assess the importance of individual behaviour on health and health outcomes. At the end of the module the students will be able to describe the nature and breadth of PHHSR; the contribution of assessing health, health behaviour and health outcomes at an individual level; the burden of disease at national and global levels; discuss and distinguish between biological, behavioural and environmental factors in the aetiology of major diseases; and appraise the role of health care interventions and the challenges posed in implementing them.


Module 2: Applied Research Methods (2019/2020)

Module Objective: To equip students with a demonstrable ability to design a population health and health services research project in which the enquiry is methodologically sound and feasible.

Module Content: This module introduces students to the range of methods and methodological approaches taken to enact PHHSR research. Competence and review of appropriate PHHSR methods will enable students to appraise commission and initiate PHHSR research in context. Students will learn to differentiate between the different types of research study designs used in PHSSR and analyse, interpret and integrate different forms of qualitative and quantitative data designs that are used to test hypotheses, measure test performance and identify associations and establish causation.


Module 3: Health Systems Policy and Management (2019/2020)

Module Objective: To critically assess the key elements and performance of the Irish health system by making use of relevant international measures, concepts and evaluation frameworks from the disciplines of health systems analysis, health policy analysis and health management and organisation.

Module Content: This module equips students with the up to date knowledge, and skills to be able to evaluate the major historical and current developments in the Irish healthcare system and to be able to propose realistic and desirable changes through appropriate research. It does this through bringing a multi-disciplinary approach to assessing key features, trends and reforms. At the end of the module the students will be able to explain the basic components or building blocks of a health system and the approach of systems thinking to health care reform and system performance; evaluate key insights from the discipline of health care management in both theory and practice; explain what influences policy design, implementation and evaluation; and distinguish between and apply effectively frameworks, models and theories of the policy process.


Module 4: Systematic Reviewing and Protocol Development (2020/2021)

Module Objective: To provide students with methodological training in the interpretation and synthesising of experimental research methodologies, facilitating the development of competencies relating to the design, conduct, analysis, synthesis and communication of these study designs.

Module Content: This module enables students to develop an ability to utilise and interpret a variety of quantitative research approaches including cohort studies, randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and systematic reviews (SRs). Students also receive training in the practical methods of conducting systematic reviews of both qualitative and quantitative literature. At the end of the module the students will be able to describe the strengths and weaknesses of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and systematic reviews (SRs); map study design to the research question and the appropriate standardised reporting guidelines; critically appraise quantitative research evidence and; extract data on the characteristics, methods and results of published studies and synthesize the results of published studies in an appropriate manner.


Module 5: Working with Health Information and Data (2020/2021)

Module Objective: To build on earlier introductory modules by enabling students to develop core methodological skills for carrying out quantitative research in PHHSR and to describe the role of health information and data in health care delivery. This module gives students a foundation in the basic principles of statistics including basic methods of summarising data with graphs and numbers, measuring uncertainty and constructing estimation models.

Module Content: The Health Informatics component of the module will enable students to review and discuss the central role of information in planning monitoring and evaluating the delivery and management of healthcare. They will recognise the opportunities and limitations of the use of ICT in healthcare. Students will also critically assess the importance of using best practice in terms of handling health information including the use of proper data management and audit protocols.

In the statistics component, students will learn to calculate and interpret data summaries and measures of effect size, confidence intervals and hypothesis tests and regression models using data representative of common health research designs.


Module 6: Health Economics (2020/2021)

Module Objective: To convey the justification and merit of applying an economic perspective to health services research

Module Content: This module will provide students with the fundamentals of the economic perspective, including an introduction to the importance of scarcity; and of opportunity cost; the basics of supply and demand; the differences between allocating goods and services by market and non-market processes. It will also include a review of alternative forms of health financing and their merits; considerations and measures of inequality in health; and an introduction to cost-effectiveness analysis.

Programme Learning Outcomes

This Diploma will provide you with the skills and knowledge to:

  1. Identify and investigate priority and topical research areas within population health and health services research within an Irish and international context
  2. Develop your capacity to understand, commission, interpret and undertake population health and health services research
  3. Critically appraise the challenges and approaches to conducting population health and health services research within an Irish and international context
  4. Learn about the methodological approaches and tools appropriate for carrying out population health and health services research
  5. Utilise and interpret a range of qualitative and quantitative research approaches, methods and tools appropriate to population health and health services research
  6. Examine the importance of the multidisciplinary approach of population health and health services research and the benefit of respect for the diverse disciplines
  7. An exceptional opportunity to grow your network, exchange knowledge and tap into the unique expertise of staff in population health and health services research across three institutions
  8. Health system professionals and researchers will obtain a comprehensive understanding of population health and health services research and life-long digital literacy skills for general learning and practice
  9. A skills-building and career enhancing award


The Diploma will take place over two semesters each year, with each semester consisting of twelve weeks.

There will be an onsite orientation day on Friday 20th September 2019 and a final course integration meeting on the 28th May 2021.


Year 1: 2019 & 2020

Module 1 – 23rd September 2019 – 17th November 2019

Module 2 (Part 1)– 18th November 2019 –15th December 2019

Christmas Holidays 16th December 2019- 12th January 2020

Module 2 (Part 2)– 13th January 2020- 9th February 2020

Module 3- 10th February 2020 – 3rd April 2020


Year 2: 2020 & 2021

Module 4- 21st September 2020- 15th November 2020

Module 5 (Part 1)- 16th November 2020-  13th December 2020

Christmas Holidays 14th December 2020- 10th January 2021

Module 5 (Part 2)- 11th January 2021-  7th February 2021

Module 6- 8th February 2021- 2nd April 2021