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Core Course

The Course "Tropical Medicine and Public Health", or "Core Course" provides basic knowledge of the main principles and concepts of International Health. At Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, it has a special focus on Tropical Medicine. It is called the "Core Course" because MSc, DTMPH and DIPH candidates must complete it before proceeding to advanced modules.

The Core Course takes place every year from early September to Mid-December (15 weeks of full-time study) and yields 20 ECTS credit points.

This year's core course will be held on 02.09.-13.12.2019. Orientation week begins one week earlier.


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Core course

The core course is divided into three modules:

  • Concepts & Research Methods
  • Health Problems
  • Health Systems

Fore more information on each of the modules, check out the graphic!

Course Description

By the end of the core course, students should be able to:

  • identify and analyse interrelated determinants of health and major health problems of populations in a cross-disciplinary perspective in low- and middle income societies.
  • critically collect, analyse and appraise qualitative and quantitative data relevant for the improvement of health and health care in low and middle income societies.
  • plan sustainable improvements of health systems considering the diverse intercultural settings as well as social and ethical responsibilities.
  • clearly communicate and work professionally in a multi-disciplinary team. 

More information on the individual modules of the Core Course:

Module A: Social Science, Epidemiology/Statistics, Research Design

At the end of the module students should be able to:

Social Sciences:

  • appraise key concepts and methods with relevance to international health;
  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of the key factors such as globalization that determine the health and wellbeing of disadvantaged populations in low and middle income countries;
  • Critically reflect on social, socio-cultural and gender-related determinants of health;
  • Identify and analyse inequalities and inequities and relate them to the determinants of health;
  • define, discussquality management and evaluation methods;
  • make use of qualitative research methods, set up appropriate research designs and interpret results critically for implications in policy and practice;


  • explain definitions of basic epidemiological measures and estimators;
  • define, distinguish and compare different epidemiological study designs;
  • conceptualise an epidemic outbreak investigation;
  • critically assess and analyse routine epidemiological data and draw epidemic curves;
  • identify and analyse potential confounders and biases in the different study designs and explain ways of minimising them;
  • understand the basic concepts and the role of biostatistics in epidemiology;
  • describe sampling variation and the way of establishing minimum sample sizes;
  • design, implement and analyse data from an epidemiological survey; run basic operations of the epidemiological software tools EPI DATA, EPI INFO and STATA;
  • practice questionnaire design, data entry, data analysis and power calculations by using EPI DATA, EPI INFO and STATA;
  • design a basic epidemiological study on a study question of their choice
  • critically analyse a published epidemiological paper

Research Design:

  • correctly apply the tropEd thesis guidelines;
  • formulate international health relevant research questions and set up a methodologically sound research outline in order to prepare the proposal development;
  • employ proper scientific writing principles and methods;
  • describe the dimensions of plagiarism and be able to work according to internationally agreed scientific standard

Module B: Health Problems

At the end of the module students should be able to:

Diseases of International Health Relevance:

  • describe, recognise and differentiate diseases with international health relevance including disease patterns, transmission cycles, prevention, treatment and control;
  • identify and estimate the impact ofdiseases of international health relevance.

Disease Control and Prevention:

  • describe and critically analyse treatment, control and prevention strategies related to diseases of international health relevance;
  • compare and appraise global disease control initiatives.

Laboratory Practice:

  • Identify and describe the most important parasites, viruses, bacteria, fungi and vectors of international health relevant diseases.

Reproductive and Child Health:

  • identify, describe and analyse major reproductive and child health issues in low-and-middle income societies;
  • discuss and critically reflect on sexual and reproductive health related concepts, rights and strategies including maternal mortality, family planning, safe motherhood, management of STI’s, management of gynaecological problems and perinatal health.

Other International Health Issues:

  • identify and analyse other international health issues concerning non-communicable diseases, environmental health, water supply and sanitation, nutrition, mental health, etc.
  • debate and appraise the impact and consequences of international health threats and problems challenging the global community.

Module C: Health Systems Management and Communication

At the end of the module students should be able to:

Health Care and Health Care Services:

  • describe and critically analyse health care concepts and structures of health care services in low-and-middle income countries, e.g. current primary health care strategies, district health concepts, and health sector reform approaches, etc.;
  • identify and analyse the challenges and problems of emergency interventions and humanitarian assistance;
  • discuss and evaluate the provision of essential drugs in low and middle income countries and drugs for neglected diseases.

Health Policy, Planning and Management:

  • discuss, analyse and use the most important policies related to international health, e.g. the concept of health promotion, sector wide approaches, poverty reduction strategies etc.
  • appraise appropriate strategies, methods and tools for health planning and management on the basis of sound epidemiological data;
  • design and relate planning and management concepts to different international work settings;
  • analyse and manage potential gender-related and intercultural conflicts in group dynamics occurring in international work settings;
  • be able to communicate clearly and professionally in international work settings.

Health Economics and Financing:

  • identify and evaluate economic and socio-economic factors influencing the health status of populations and the quality of health care services in low and middle income countries;
  • assess basic principles, concepts and tools of health economics, health care financing and social security systems.

Major Players in International Health:

  • discuss and analyse the roles of major players and stakeholders in the field of international health;
  • critically assess and compare the guidelines and recommendations of important health policies developed by major organizations in international health.