Master of Science in Environmental Health

Master of Science in Environmental Health

Offered in Block Release
  • 2 YearsCourse Duration
  • PostgraduateSkill level
  • $8553.00


Candidates with a BSc Honours Degree in Environmental Science and Health or Bachelor of Environmental Science Honours Degree in Public Health or any other related field with at least a lower Second class will normally be eligible for admission into the programme.

The Msc in Environmental health programme runs in synchronisation with the Block Release Programmes at NUST. The duration of the programme is twenty-four (24) months. It is offered on Block Release over two (2) Stages. The programme comprises of two blocks in each stage and each block has three (3) weeks of class contact. Teaching and learning continues in the form of assignments in between the blocks. The taught courses offered run for a total of 58 hours class contact each i.e. 29 hrs lecture time, 10 hours tutorials and 19 hours practicals. The project leading to a dissertation runs for twelve (12) months.

Considering the appreciation of linkages between the environment and health, (basing on the statistic that environmental risks contribute 28 per cent of Africa's disease burden), international organisations such as UNEP, intergovernmental panels such as the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) and local government arms such as the Zimbabwean Ministry of Health and Child Care  are focusing on and placing environment and health issues at the top of their national and continent-wide policies. These policies are aimed at tackling growing challenges such as air pollution and respiratory infections; vector-borne diseases such as diarrhoea; malaria, chemical exposures and other environmental health impacts.

In this regard, this MSc in Environmental Health will contribute to such efforts through advanced knowledge and skills impartation and training, generation of new scientific knowledge in the area of environmental health through research to guide policy development and implementation in areas such as epidemiology, environmental toxicology and Health systems management. The target group for this programme is therefore honours degree in Environmental Science and Health and Public health holders and any other related field who are interested in furthering their studies in environmental health issues for lasting solutions.  This programme is offered on a block release basis to allow working practitioners to participate. Environmental Health is a broad area of study. The programme thus allows students to pursue areas of interest after completing the core courses. The programme focuses on the theory and practice of assessing, correcting, controlling and preventing those factors in the environment that can potentially affect adversely the health of present and future generations.

Expected Outcome
Upon completing the requirements for the Master of Science Degree in Environmental Health, graduates are able to:

  • To evaluate the role that the environment plays in human health
  • Communicate the basic characteristics of major chemical, physical, and biological hazards and the properties that govern the hazards’ behaviour in the environment;
  • Explain the scientific characteristics ( route of exposure, dose response, mode of action) of major biological, chemical, and physical hazards that result in human health risk;
  • successfully apply risk assessment methodologies and management strategies to complex environmental health issues
  • Analyze and interpret environmental health data;
  • Identify appropriate intervention strategies for specific environmental health problems and
  • Communicate the results of a scientific study in a written and oral format.

Candidates with a BSc Honours Degree in Environmental Science and Health or Bachelor of Environmental Science Honours Degree in Public Health or any other related field with at least a lower Second class will normally be eligible for admission into the programme.

The programme shall run in synchronisation with the Block Release Programmes at NUST.  The duration of the programme shall be twenty-four (24) months. It shall be offered on Block Release over two (2) Stages. The programme will comprise of two blocks in each stage and each block will have three (3) weeks of class contact. Teaching and learning will continue in the form of assignments in between the blocks. The taught courses offered shall run for a total of 58 hours class contact each i.e. 29 hrs lecture time, 10 hours tutorials and 19 hours practicals. The project leading to a dissertation shall run for twelve (12) months.

The programme shall consist of nine (9) taught courses and a dissertation that are offered in two stages. A student shall be expected to register for three courses in the first and second block of stage I, two courses and dissertation in the first block of stage II and one elective and dissertation in the second block of stage II. The dissertation may be undertaken either in the Department, Industry or any other Institution approved by the Departmental Board.

CURRICULUM STRUCTURE                       

Block I
ESH    5101    Food Safety Management
ESH    5102    Environmental Protection and Health
ESH    5103    Communicable Diseases

Block II
ESH    5201    Epidemiological Modelling
ESH    5202    Housing and Health
ESH    5203    Research Methods and Biostatistics

Block I
ESH     6101    Environmental Engineering
ESH    6102    Occupational Health and Safety
ESH    6100    Dissertation

Block II
ESH    6100    Dissertation                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
One Elective Course

ESH    6201    Health Systems Management
ESH    6202    Climate and Environmental Change
ESH    6203    Non Communicable Diseases

Parts of a course may be examined independently during the course of the studies. Both the continuous assessment which shall comprise 40% (20% practicals and 20% assignments and tests) of the overall mark for that part, and the written examination (comprising 60%) shall aggregate to the final mark for the whole course. Continuous assessments for courses without a practical component shall contribute 20% i.e. assignments and tests and 80% written examination. The examination assessment shall be by a three hour written paper at the end of the block. To pass a course a student must have obtained an overall mark of 50% and at least 40% in the final written examination. To pass the Dissertation, a student must obtain a minimum overall mark of 50%, with the dissertation report contributing 90% and the oral presentation contributing 10%. The Dissertation shall contribute 30% of the overall mark for the degree classification.

To be eligible for the award of the MSc Degree in Environmental Health, a student shall be required to pass all the courses registered for including dissertation.

The weighting of the components of the degree shall be:
Average of all taught courses                         70%
Dissertation                                                     30%
The following scheme shall be used for the courses and overall degree classification:
Mark                                                                          Grade
0- 49%                                                                         Fail
50-64%                                                                        Pass
65-74%                                                                        Merit
75-100%                                                                      Distinction

Students will be required to pass Stage I before proceeding to Stage II. A student may   proceed to stage II if he/she has passed all the courses or when carrying only one course. A student shall not be allowed to proceed to stage II with two or more failed courses in stage I. A student who passes 50% of the taught courses at the end of a stage and has attained a minimum aggregate of 50% may apply to repeat failed courses in that stage. A student who fails more than 50% of the courses in a stage shall withdraw. A student who passes all nine (9) taught courses but fails the dissertation may apply to repeat the Dissertation. In the event that the student fails when repeating the dissertation he /she shall be awarded a post graduate diploma in Environmental Health. A student who fails a course but has passed the Dissertation may be allowed to repeat the failed course once. In the event that the student fails when repeating the course he /she shall be awarded a post graduate diploma in Environmental Health.



ESH    5101:   Food Safety Management
Biological, chemical and physical contaminants that cause ill-health, or infringe on consumer rights. Technology of food production and packaging. Examination of food commodities for quality and safety. Good Hygiene Practice and Good Manufacturing Practice for quality control. Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) and the application of a food safety management system; quality assurance as a business’ response to food safety risk.  Legislation pertaining to food safety and food standards (codex alimentarius).    Multi-disciplinary approach in control of food-borne illnesses.

 ESH   5102:   Environmental Protection and Health
Differences between environmental health and public health, Environmental exposure and specific health outcomes in humans (use of animals as a means to understand possible health outcomes in humans due to contamination exposure); Conducting randomized controlled trials and other experimental studies on animal and plant subjects; Bioaccumulation; Biomagnification, Identification of various environmental health hazards e.g. chemical, biological and physical, and their potential impacts on human health. Health and environmental controls to ensure food, water, air and general environmental quality. The mechanisms in environmental and health protection such as law enforcement, monitoring and measurement, environmental impact assessments, risks assessments and toxicity testing. The legislative, policy and institutional frameworks for environmental and health protection.

ESH    5103:   Communicable Diseases
Communicable diseases epidemiology and comparisons and evaluations of disease burden between different countries. Critical evaluation of main diseases spread by poor sanitation and contamination of drinking water like cholera. A critical evaluation of the major vector borne diseases including Malaria, Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (DHF) and Ebola. Impact of pneumonia on health of children in developing countries. Global spread of HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis (TB) and their impacts on human population. The WHO neglected tropical disease strategy. Case studies of control/mitigation of the above diseases. Migration and urbanisation impacts on disease prevalence; Zoonoses; Health protection with emphasis on disease control as well as protection from environmental hazards. Emergency preparedness and response planning

ESH    5201: Epidemiological Modelling
Basic epidemiological concepts, mathematical modelling, model building, mathematical modelling in public health, epidemiological modelling, simple deterministic models, intervention models, modelling of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, Model validation, simple stochastic models, data collection and basic statistical treatment of data, Geographical information systems in epidemiology, remote sensing.

ESH    5202:   Housing and Health
Types of housing and construction, site plan approval and inspection process, common building defects and their impacts on human health. Effects of housing on wetlands. The application of housing legislation to the maintenance and improvement of the housing stock. Role of local authority is service delivery and housing stock. Risk assessment in determination of the suitability for occupation. The assessment and management of indoor air quality and its impact on health. Environmental noise, indoor radiation and their impact on health and their control. Eco – design and housing for eco – cities; Water supply, alternative urban water supply such as boreholes. Drainage and sewage reticulation systems (eco – effectiveness; designs; maintenance and assessment).

ESH    5203:  Research Methods and Biostatistics
Research, research types, Research planning and design, Project Proposal,  Data collection techniques, Literature review, Research techniques, Methodology and Methods, Sampling techniques, Validity and reliability, , Ethical issues in Information systems Research, Statistical analysis. An introduction to the basic concepts of biostatistics and its importance in public health. Understanding the different types of data in public health. How to compute and interpret the most commonly used descriptive and inferential statistics. Measures of central tendency, dispersion and graphical methods.  Hypothesis testing, power and sample size estimation in epidemiological studies. Sampling and the interpretation of p values and confidence intervals. Analysis of numerical and categorical outcomes for example comparisons of means and proportions. Understand and interpret relative risks and odds ratios when comparing two populations. Difference between parametric and non-parametric methods. Understand and interpret results from Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), a technique used to compare means amongst more than two independent populations. Introduction to linear and logistic regression. Research report writing.

ESH    6101: Environmental Engineering
Principles of designing of municipal or local portable water supply and wastewater treatment systems e.g. conventional systems etc; Assessment of and improvement of efficiencies of the water and wastewater treatment systems; Sewage and health issues; Other liquid waste treatment technologies (Ventilated Improved Latrines (VIPs), Aqua-privy, Septic tanks);  Application of engineering principles to improve the environmental quality (air, water, land); Environmental engineering law.  Environmental impact of proposed construction projects; Water conservation strategies and virtual water supplies

ESH    6102: Occupational Health and Safety
Occupational ergonomics: anthropometry, working postures, task analysis, manual materials handling, lifting equations, and environmental factors. Upon completion, students should be able to recognize ergonomic problems and recommend appropriate control measures. Occupational Safety: Accident investigation, Workers Compensation, record keeping, training, machine guarding, facilities, personal protection and fire protection. Workplace psychology: Psychosocial epidemiology. Work based study of sources of stress. Measurement of occupational stress. Application of moderator variables and coping strategies.

ESH    6201:   Health Systems Management
Health leadership, partnership working, change management and performance management. The nature of governance and the legal system in Zimbabwe.  Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) and asset based mapping, Health Impact Assessments. Health and wellbeing commissioning. Health inequalities within and between countries. Policy and strategy development in health. Interventions, programmes and services to improve health. Evaluation and monitoring of health interventions like Water, Sanitation and Health. Current developments in health research, policy and practice and intervention strategies, risk assessment, health impact assessment and social impact assessment.

ESH    6202:   Climate and Environmental Change
Adaptation strategies both at a global and localised level in mitigating health impacts of change.  Debate on environmental change; Causation and mapping out indicators of change; explanation of recurrent extreme weather condition for example storms, droughts. International response. Impacts on health delivery especially in developing countries; Environmental justice within the context of the north-south debate.  Micro-climatic changes and the localised impacts on plants, animals and aquatic ecosystem and food security; The carbon foot print; Impact of water scarcity; land and forest degradation; Appreciation of Climate Change Models

ESH    6203:   Non Communicable Diseases
This course will address the health transition from communicable to non-communicable diseases occurring in developing countries including Zimbabwe and the subsequent “double burden” of disease. Understanding the disease burden of  major non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease and their risk factors such as diet, exercise, tobacco, alcohol and other environmental exposures such as pesticides and air pollutants which are responsible for considerable morbidity and premature mortality globally and locally. The course aims to provide students with the ability to critically evaluate evidence for causation and the (cost)-effectiveness of NCD control in populations. The strengths, weaknesses and challenges of different population approaches to NCD prevention and control will be assessed.

ESH 6100: Dissertation
This module seeks to consolidate and enable students to practically apply  research techniques they would have learnt throughout the course. This module allows students to demonstrate different research skills such as: writing styles and skills (grammatical errors, formats and logical writing), individual approach to a research project (originality and ability to identify viable research questions), usage and critique of literature to justify necessity of proposed research, identification and recruitment of data sources, data collection tools and techniques including consideration of research ethics, analytic skills and interpretation of data, time management and responsibility.

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Mr Walter Magagula

Mr Walter Magagula

Senior Assistant Registrar