3. Academic structure and content

The EMJM PHID is two year course of 120 ECTS. The course will be taught in English and its structure has three components:

(I) The Common Disaster Core Component at Universidad de Oviedo (Oviedo, Spain)

(II) Component related to Public Health response to Disaster at Karolinska Institutet (Stockholm, Sweden)

(III) Component on Epidemiology and Research in Disasters at University of Nicosia at University of Nicosia (Nicosia, Cyprus)

(IV) Master’s Thesis.

The Common Disaster Core Component is a course study at Universidad de Oviedo mandatory for all the students. This Common Core Module covers topics on disaster concepts and terminology, disaster risk assessment, risk management and risk reduction, main disaster response systems and the study of disaster types. Specific learning outcomes in Oviedo are:

  • To understand and master the basic concepts and terminology in disasters and the key elements concerning epidemiology in the different types of disasters (natural, technological, and man-made).
  • To know in detail the International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (ISDRR) and its evolution, the international law in humanitarian crisis and disasters and economics of disaster and climate risk management.
  • To become familiar with disaster databases and sources of information on disasters.
  • To understand the fundamentals of Public Health in a changing environment
  • To master the basic epidemiological and public health methods in disasters and disaster metrics.
  • To integrate the elements of resilience in public health in disaster response.
  • To properly use the basic indicators for rapid assessment and surveillance in emergencies.
  • To develop an efficient integrated risk management strategy through the logical framework approach and elaborate a disaster risk profile.
  • To understand and effectively exploit the capacities of information and communication technologies in disasters.
  • To design and develop an effective public health communication strategy in a disaster and emergency context.
  • To take into account and properly apply the ethical principles in disasters

The public health response to disasters component is developed at Karolinska Institutet and aimed to serve the educational need of disaster related professionals planning to work in disasters health response as well as those with previous experience from this field.
The students will first attend a Module which includes in-depth focus on understanding and analysing the pre-disaster health contexts, the global burden of disease and other factors that determine the variations in health status.
Then the students will attend contents on Public Health response to Disasters focused on how to analyse specific disasters and how plan, design and deliver public health response in different disasters and contexts. This module aims at providing sufficient knowledge for the students to plan for the public health response to disasters and to understand how to deliver primary, secondary as well as preventive services, using different modalities in order to mitigate public health problems in disaster situations. It emphasises how to analyse the effects of the disaster, using different methods including needs assessments and how to, analyse plan an adequate public health response. The course builds on empirical experience from a number of disasters. Case studies and interactive exercises will be used as part of teaching the content highlighting the challenges of the resources scarce context, including problems related to security and ethics.
The third module at Karolinska Institutet focus on qualitative research methods and evaluations methods of health response programmes in health crises and disasters. Specific learning outcomes at KI are:

  • To get acquainted with the key elements in global health and health systems planning, funding and implementation.
  • To follow quality standards and guidelines in disaster response. 
  • To learn basic concepts about communicable diseases (main types and antibiotic resistance), maternal and child health, noncommunicable diseases, mental health and community health.
  • To demonstrate capacities to analyse public health needs and strategies in disasters.
  • To assess and argue public health priorities in disaster situations and their level of importance.
  • To plan a relevant and appropriate public health response in a disaster, health crisis and outbreak.
  • To explain the reasons and principles for setting up a surveillance system of public health threats in disaster situations.
  • To plan a process evaluation of a public health response, using qualitative research methods.

Epidemiology and Research in Disasters is taught at University of Nicosia focusing on the application of epidemiological research and methods to disaster issues. Students in this track will follow additional Statistics content and, due to the research oriented focus of this track it will also include a special Master Thesis preparatory course. The advanced research methodological module has special interest for the disaster related professionals interested in disaster research or in academic and educational aspects. The aim of this advanced module is provide the students with the required theoretical and practical knowledge to assess the impact of disasters on health and investigate the factors that contribute to increase these impacts. They will be specifically taught on survey and advanced epidemiological methods used to analyse this data. In addition advanced courses with practical exercises and lab work will cover sample size calculations in complex situations, advanced methods for case-control, cohort, and ecological studies. Aspects of weighting, measures of association and stratification will be taught.

Finally, there will be two courses that will cover specific epidemiological applications and public health issues in emergency settings. Other topics include demographic methods and their implications in assessing population mortality, anthropological aspects of health in developing countries including attitudes towards disease and health seeking behaviour. Specific learning outcomes are:

  • To fully understand the relevant contents and be able to structure a sound research project in the field of emergency and/or disaster.
  • To get the necessary technical competences to design and implement qualitative and quantitative methods for data collection in disasters.
  • To provide the students with a deep understanding of the critical points that drive the selection of appropriate data collection methods in disasters.
  • To be skilled in the analysis of qualitative data in disasters and understand their limits.
  • To equip the student with the critical statistical tools that will be used to analyse survey data, but also case-control, cohort, and ecological studies.
  • To understand the limitations of statistical analyses, and current methods to test their robustness.
  • To be able to identify relevant databases on disasters, understanding main features, variables and their appropriate use.
  • To be able to analyse and interpret socio-economic, health status, demographics, hazard-related, and further contextual information that drives intensity and variety of health impacts of disasters.
  • To be capable of identifying and measuring the health-related variables that are relevant to measure after a disaster, understanding the limits of the measuring tools available.

An optional hands-on practical internship is possible subject to availability of places. Internships will be co-tutored by the Masters supervisor and an external person belonging to the associated partner. All the students will fulfil an internship period, with a maximum of two students staying at each associated partner.

A Master’s Thesis and written report of the student’s personal work, aimed at developing independent and scientific thoughts and applications. Master Thesis will be connected to the activities developed during the internship and one chapter of the Master Thesis will describe the Internship activities and the outcomes that may be relevant to the Thesis. The research topics will be suggested by the students before starting the Master course. Based on the topic for the thesis, the supervisor and associated centres will be decided on and the thesis adapted accordingly. The thesis will be supervised by a PhD Professor belonging to any of the partner Universities and may also be co-directed by a professor or tutor from the associated organization where the student carries out the thesis’ data collection.

Cross cutting learning outcomes are:

  • Analyse and structure complex tasks
  • Problem-solving competences enabling for the analysis, modelling and describing complex problems.
  • Develop and assess strategies for problem solving.
  • Ability to communicate complex ideas and concepts in an intelligible and convincing way.
  • Team working skills.
  • Multicultural communication skills

The general structure is as follows:
In the first semester, students will take 30 ECTS core modules at the University of Oviedo. Core modules will focus on the common core disaster elements and will provide students with the theoretical grounds in disaster risk assessment, response and management, public health and epidemiology, and research methods.

In second semester, they will all move to Stockholm, to take the 30 ECTS courses specifically devoted to Public Health Response to Disasters. Students will learn to analyse and understand the pre-disaster health contexts, the global burden of disease and other factors that determine the variations in health status, which are essential to plan for disaster response.

In the third semester 30 ECTS will be taken in Nicosia, where students will learn to master research methodologies applied to epidemiology and public health issues in emergencies and disaster.

In the fourth semester, based on student preferences, students will have the opportunity to develop their dissertation/thesis in one of the partner Universities or at one of the associated partners during the fourth semester (30 ECTS). The thesis will be supervised by a PhD Professor belonging to any of the partner Universities and may also be co-supervised by appropriate staff or academics from the associated partners.

The EMJM PHID subjects and credits are summarised in the following figure:

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