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Get to grips with the growing volume of data relevant to our health and healthcare – and how we can use it to improve health and wellbeing.

Learn from leading health researchers ranked top in Scotland for research, and a university with a distinguished track record for transferring research into practice

Gain a strong career advantage as a researcher or health professional, with the advantage of learning at your own pace, in any location, and fitting around your work and personal commitments.


We live in a time of ‘Big Data’, with rapid growth in the digital capture of information through patient records, health monitoring devices and many other ways which are together generating a huge volume of data extremely useful in understanding the health of individuals and populations.

Health informatics is the science of capturing, linking together and analysing large datasets with the aim of improving health and healthcare. The demand for health researchers with training and experience in health informatics is high, and for professionals in public health it is a key skill.

This course will equip students for any career in health research or public health practice and is an excellent stepping stone for those wishing to develop a specialist interest in this field. You may be a graduate in health sciences and considering a future in research, a practising researcher looking to develop your career, or a clinician or related health professional working in the NHS, private organisation or government agency.

You’ll be supported to critically understand the breadth of health informatics, the opportunities to use health informatics research to benefit public health and healthcare, the legal and ethical challenges, and the key methodological considerations.

You can study this credit-bearing online short course standalone, or use this as a taster to continue your professional development with a course in Research Methods for Health and progress to a full Master in Health Economics for Health Professionals or Master in Public Health programme available on campus.

Why Aberdeen for this course?

The combination of international profile, long experience, quality of expertise, track record in research and teaching, and close links with the NHS on the Foresterhill health campus, makes Aberdeen the obvious provider of first-class education in all areas of health. Our region boasts the highest concentration of health and life scientists anywhere in Europe.

Medicine and health at Aberdeen enjoys a great reputation for transferring research into practice. We’re immensely proud of our leading pioneers in nutrition, women’s health, infection control, clinical scanning and many other medical and health areas which transformed lives and medical practice throughout the world.

The last national assessment of the research strength of all UK universities ranked research in Public Health, Health Services and Primary Care at the University of Aberdeen to be top in Scotland. Over three-quarters of Aberdeen research was deemed ‘world-class’ or ‘internationally excellent’ in the national Research Excellence Framework (2014).

Your course is designed and tutored by experts in public health and applied health sciences, a large multidisciplinary grouping of University and NHS researchers who work to promote health and healthcare delivery, influencing government and health service policy and who frequently chair national panels and reviews.

Close working with NHS services and clinicians enables ground-breaking trials and studies, and the input of clinicians using real life examples adds huge value to both teaching and research. You can study this credit-bearing online short course standalone, or as a taster to continue your professional development with a PgCert, PgDip, and perhaps progress to a full online Masters programme from our popular portfolio of topics in Applied Health Sciences.

What you'll study

You’ll cover the core concepts of health informatics research including data sources, data gathering, data quality, ethics and governance, linkage, and data specification. You’ll gain the core skills and knowledge to undertake basic data linkage and health informatics research, and study a broad range of examples.

The course consists of seven units, each with a tutor who is an expert in that particular field.

On completing the course, you will be able to:

  • Describe the relevance of health informatics in research and to public health and care
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the ethical, confidentiality, data protection and information governance issues relating to health informatics research and population statistics
  • Identify key data resources for understanding health
  • Undertake and understand the principles of data linkage
  • Produce a data specification for a data linkage study
  • Communicate health informatics from routine health data
  • Explore cutting edge opportunities for health informatics research

How you'll study

This online, 12-week distance-learning short course offers all the flexibility and convenience to study when, where and how you choose, and to fit your learning around your location, employment and personal commitments.

Our online courses are delivered through our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) as self-contained units of learning taught and assessed to the same quality as our degree programmes, and developed specifically for an online audience.

We aim to create an international online classroom and student community which enables you to enjoy the same learning experience as students on our full degree programmes.

You’ll be guided through your programme with recorded sessions, videos, synchronous sessions, discussions, and activities for you to work through, with plenty of interaction with your tutors and with your online classmates through discussion boards.

Of the total 150 hours of the course you are likely to spend around 40 hours on learning materials and activities, 15-20 hours on assessments, and the remainder on private study. We expect you to study up to 15 hours a week on the online material and reading. The first week of your 12-week course will be pre-course reading, and your final week will be for revision prior to your final assessment.


You’ll have two formative assessments during your course: a set of multiple-choice questions on information governance (gaining you a separate certificate), and a task to develop a research question.

At the end of your course you’ll have a one-hour short-answer exam on key concepts (20% of your grade), a data linkage protocol and data specification written report of 2000 words (60%), and a communicating with data exercise (1min podcast OR 1page A4 graphical or narrative ‘data story’) (20%).

Entry Requirements

A health-related honours degree (second class level or at least 60%, or GPA 3/5, 2.4/4, 6/10 or equivalent) or be able to demonstrate evidence of equivalent experience in healthcare practice or research.

All students entering the University, including online courses, must provide evidence that they can use English well enough to study our programmes effectively. Details of our English language entry requirements can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages. For details of our pre-sessional English courses see our Language Centre website.