SOPH Programme Handbook

The School of Public Health has been in existence since 1994, when it introduced an MPhil in Public Health which was open to all levels of health and allied health professionals, and those from other related fields. At that time, this was the first of its kind in South Africa. In 2000, the SOPH refined the education programme into a four level Postgraduate Programme in Public Health offered through contact and distance learning. It comprised of a Postgraduate Certificate (PG Certificate) in Public Health, a Postgraduate Diploma (PG Diploma) in Public Health, a Master of Public Health (MPH) and a PhD in Public Health.

Over the years, the Postgraduate Programme has been reconfigured on a number of occasions in response to the requirements of the Department of Higher Education and Training in South Africa, shifts in the needs of the health system and a changing student profile. The most recent change concerns the MPH which has been re- curriculated to cover a wider scope of content, and to provide more support in the area of research. This Master of Public Health was offered for the first time in 2013. Student numbers currently stand at:

The Programme has been designed to enable health professionals to study Public Health while remaining in their professional posts, in response to the health workforce shortages in Africa. In line with international trends in Public Health training, the Programme is conceptually orientated towards the needs of Lower and Middle Income Country contexts, health sector reform and international health movements. It is at the same time alert to community involvement in health provision. Its pedagogy stresses practical application of knowledge and skills in the field while studying.

The key goals of the coursework are to equip graduates to:

  • Identify, quantify and prioritise the health problems and needs of communities.
  • Design, implement and evaluate comprehensive and participatory programmes aimed at countering these problems and meeting health needs.
  • Communicate effectively with service providers and communities about Public Health and Primary Health Care.
  • Demonstrate leadership in transforming the health and welfare systems of Africa.

The Programme is accessible to health, welfare and allied health professionals from all the provinces of South Africa, and to those from other countries on the African continent. To date, students have registered from South Africa, Namibia, Malawi, Uganda, Swaziland, Lesotho, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Niger, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Somalia, Central African Republic, Angola, Senegal, Rwanda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Seychelles and occasionally by special arrangement, from countries beyond Africa.Our programme has been designed to be as open and flexible as is viable for working professionals. Students are able to continue to work in the services while studying part-time. See diagram of the SOPH's Postgraduate Programme below. Access to the next level is not automatic and is dependent on the student’s performance. Quick access to 2020 Programme Handbook

School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape
Robert Sobukwe Road, Bellville 7535, Republic of South Africa
Tel: +27-21 - 959 2809 | Fax: +27- 21 - 959 2872 | Email: