The MPhil (Applied Epidemiology) is a two year research degree that emphasises learning-by-doing. The program teaches scholars epidemiology in the field, through coursework and learning in a field placement, such as a health department. The MPhil (App Epid) is Australia’s only Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) and is part of the international network of Field Training Programs in Epidemiology & Public Health Interventions Network.
We have run the FETP program for the last 25 years. The program has been extremely successful, producing over 200 graduates, who investigated over 300 outbreaks and established or evaluated surveillance systems. Fifteen per cent of graduates during this time were Indigenous. In 2010, the FETP was evaluated by a team of international experts. The evaluation and changes to funding required fundamental revisions. This resulted in development of a new Masters of Philosophy (MPhil) program.
The MPhil (App Epid) aims to develop Australia’s public health capabilities and systems. The primary goal is to foster the professional development of field trained epidemiologists who are competent in using epidemiology to tackle a wide range of contemporary public health problems.
MPhil (App Epid) scholars are placed in a field placement for the duration of the program. Field placements may be a health department or public health unit, or other suitable institution. The scholar must complete epidemiologically based projects that are relevant to the workplace, and be involved in response to public health incidents. These may include national and international response to public health emergencies. During the two years, scholars will participate in ‘lessons from the field’ where field based problems will be worked through with other scholars and MPhil (App Epid) teaching staff.
At the end of the two years, scholars must submit a thesis that is a coherent report on four research projects. Each research project has a corresponding coursework component. In addition, scholars must include:
- a summary of experience during the program
- a late draft of a peer review paper
- a presentation to a national or international scientific conference
- a communication of epidemiological findings to a lay audience.
While on the program, scholars will have a field supervisor who is an experienced field epidemiologist, and an academic supervisor. Scholars and supervisors communicate via regular teleconferences and field visits where practical.
Following completion of the degree, scholars may work as epidemiologists for state, territory and federal health departments, and international agencies, such as the World Health Organization.