A Day in the Life of the Global-Health Masters Student

Lectures on Qualitative Research in 'Marie' Room of Widerstrom.
Lectures on Qualitative Research in ‘Marie’ Room of Widerstrom.

The Global Health programme for 2013 is now in its 7th week, and its second course. The course focuses on Research Methods and Methodology.

If you are applying to the Global Health Masters for next year, it might be good for you to get a better idea in advance of what to expect from the course itself – regarding structure and how you will need to allocate your time, the schedule and of course – if you will have enough time to do a part time job on the side. To begin with; the Global Health programme on a whole is made up of six different courses and a degree project relating to Global Health. The six courses include two five week courses in Global Health and Research Methodology, and then a series of shorter courses in Health Policy, Management and Economics, Infectious Diseases, Non Communicable Diseases and Maternal and Child Health. These courses conclude in mid February after which time the class members are required to dedicate their time exclusively to their degree project (a thesis) until they need to do their thesis defense (May/ June) and graduate.

For me the course structure itself has been a little bit of an adjustment as the structure and scheduling is different, not only from my previous Masters degree but also from any other course I have taken at any other institution.  As the Masters programme for Global Health is only one year, there is a necessity to cover a lot of material in a very short period of time.  What makes this course a little different is that each one of these courses is taught in a block, after which time there is an exam and then the course is concluded and a new course begins. For example for the first five weeks of our programme we only were in the Global Health course, punctuated with an examination (astonishingly taken under strict exam conditions, and conducted like the type of formal exam you would associate with A level, or Chartered accountancy examinations). The following Monday after the examination, we commenced our new course in Research Methodology. This will continue until we have completed all the required courses.

The courses themselves are taught by a selection of lecturers, dependent upon the lecturers own personal competencies and interests – and of course their own personal research commitments and available times.  The lectures are held every single day of the week between the hours of 9 and 4.30 with a lunch break and two tea breaks in between. All of the lectures take place in the same room of the same building, so pick your seat and make yourself comfortable!  This is different from some of the other Global Masters programmes (like Health Informatics) which have a different schedule with less lecture time and more time allocated for group work and reading. This can of course be attributed to the small amount of time that the course has to cover all the necessary topics.

After the courses have been completed the students are required to undertake research for their masters degree project. This research topic has to be decided on very early in the course (within the first two months, earlier if you want to go abroad) and you undertake this between the months of February and June.  It therefore, might be a good idea for you to begin to think through some potential areas that you would like to further investigate for your degree project.  The degree project itself is about 30 pages and can be either qualitative or quantitative, and look at primary or secondary data. As you will perhaps note from earlier Global Masters posts, there is also an opportunity to go abroad to undertake your research. This can be done either on your own, self financed, or if you are Swedish (or a Swedish resident) you can apply for a Minor Field Study grant. If you are given this grant, you are able to undertake your research in amazing settings such as Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, El Salvador… (and more)to name a few examples taken from friends and colleagues…. For those of you who are unable to go abroad (like me) you will have the opportunity to work closely with the lecturers and professors at the Public Health Department on secondary data analysis – which of course has its advantages as this means you will be able to spend more time in ‘Beautiful Stockholm’!

This of course has some implications for your rental agreements, if you need to find accommodation for the entire duration of the programme, or if you are going to go abroad, and therefore only need accommodation until the end of February. Also, as the course is so short, and the pressure on finding a research topic starts the first day you arrive in the programme, it might be good to also look through the ICHAR site and look at the Department of Public Health Sciences site to get an idea of what research is being undertaken, whether or not you fit in any of the research projects, or simply whether or not this programme is the right one for you!

Finally, getting work in Stockholm – this is a difficult process to begin with.  As you can see from the course schedule and the amount of ‘contact time’ that is required for your courses, this will also influence your ability to get a job. At the moment the idea of a part time job – remains a some-what elusive concept for many students as they need to speak Swedish and have an established network of potential job contacts to get such work. However, if you are lucky enough to find work it might be best to see if you can work over the Internet and provide assistance that way. Editing, writing and administrative jobs would be good choices here. This would fit better with your schedule, however you should bear in mind that most of your free time will be spent reading up on the course and familiarizing yourself with the work you cover during the day. As I have mentioned before, this course is only a year and therefore the structure is created with that in mind. This said, several of my classmates are juggling existing work commitments with their school-work, and doing so with grace and efficiency. Many of them already had employment before they started this degree, and their commitments are simply an extension of that previous employment. Just something to keep in the back of your mind and consider!

Good luck with your applications – if you need any more information – please feel free to email me and I will help you as best as I can, or if I cant help you – I will do my best to refer you to some one who will be able to assist you.

Lunch Break with Global Health!!!
Lunch Break with Global Health!!!

3 thoughts on “A Day in the Life of the Global-Health Masters Student

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