Institute for Global Health


Perinatal epidemiology & Maternal Health

Module Code: GLBH0011


UCL Credits: 15

Module Organisers: Dr Tim Colbourn and Dr Helen Allott. Please direct queries to the course administration team in the first instance igh.adminpg@ucl.ac.uk

Who can study this course?


MSc/PG Dip Global Health and Development students, other UCL MSc/PG Dip students, TropEd students, Taster course and Short course students

Admission Requirements


MSc and PG Dip students: Open to all UCL MSc/PG Dip Global Health and Development, and to any UCL MSc/PG Dip students.

tropEd students: evidence that you are registered as a tropEd student, successful completion of core course.

Taster students: UK Bachelor's degree in a relevant/allied subject awarded with a 1st or upper 2nd class Honours or an equivalent qualification.  Two academic or professional reference letters.

Short course students: Professional work experience in a relevant area and/or UK Bachelor's degree in a relevant/allied subject awarded with a 1st or 2nd class Honours or an equivalent qualification.

In addition to the above, all students must demonstrate a GOOD standard of English Proficiency with 6.5 in each of the subtests.

Course length3 weeks 
Course dates16 March - 3 April 2020
Days and timesMondays, Tuesdays and Fridays from 09.30 to 12.30 and 14.00 to 17.00 for the first two weeks. Assessment to be completed in final week and submitted by 9 am on 6 April 2020.



The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for reductions in child and maternal mortality will not be met unless perinatal events are addressed. The realisation that this is the case has led to widespread calls for intervention to improve outcomes for mothers and newborn infants. This module has developed out of our departmental interest and expertise in perinatal and maternal issues. It addresses the background to and potential strategies for public health initiatives to improve perinatal, neonatal and maternal outcomes. It will be useful for mother and child health professionals, programme managers and those with an interest in public health.

The module has three general emphases: maternal andperinatal health in developing countries, the generation and review of evidence, and the potential for pragmatic intervention. It draws on three particular strengths of the facilitators: involvement in the international dialogue on maternal and perinatal health, contribution to field research, and extensive experience in collaborations with partners in developing countries.

The module begins with a discussion of the nature and importance of maternal and perinatal epidemiology, with particular reference to developing countries. We cover the historical background, important definitions, data collection, statistics and the methods of deriving them, and current trends. We then discuss the key causes of stillbirth, neonatal and maternal mortality. We review the history of essential obstetric and newborn care up to and including current practice and future research at community and health facility levels.

The course aims to equip students with a comprehensive understanding of the complex issues in global perinatal and maternal health and enable students to critically evaluate progress and limitations to progress towards reducing maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity in different contexts, as well as place maternal health issues within a health systems framework.



  • MDG targets, progress, anomalies
  • The role of DFID in maternal and perinatal health and the SDGs
  • WHO policy in Maternal and Perinatal Health
  • Obstetric Fistula
  • Stillbirths, Neonatal and Maternal Mortality (Measurements means and limitations, Maternal and Neonatal Death Surveillance and Response, Example cases from Uganda)
  • Labour and Intrapartum asphyxia
  • Neonatal sepsis, PMTCT and HIV
  • Uterine rupture and near miss
  • Maternal psychiatric morbidity
  • Mental health consequences in Burkina Faso
  • Low birth weight, preterm, growth restriction
  • Maternal Micronutrient supplementation
  • Caesarean section rates
  • Hospital care for mothers and newborns in low-income settings
  • Antenatal and postnatal care
  • Family planning
  • Respectful care and quality of care
  • Infant and Young Child Feeding



Teaching and learning methods


The module makes particular efforts to help students develop their understanding of research, evidence and appraisal. The seminars will involve discussion of articles set as reading for each session and the discussion arising will be used as a platform for a broader and deeper understanding of the issues. This discussion is augmented by selective presentation of teaching material (slides, articles) and talks from a wide variety of leading experts.

Extensive, categorised reading lists will be given out. Research reading will be made available through Moodle, which will also be used as an information portal for participants and a source for course materials, including all lecture contents.


Essay 100% (2000 words)

Assessment Date

9:00am 6 April 2020


Participants usually have a background in maternal and child health or public health, through either training or work experience.

Selected Reading List 

Before the course, participants may like to have a look at:

The Lancet Every Newborn 2014 series: http://www.thelancet.com/series/everynewborn

The Every Newborn Action Plan, which can be downloaded from http://www.everynewborn.org/

The Lancet Ending Preventable Stillbirths 2016 series: http://www.thelancet.com/series/ending-preventable-stillbirths

The Lancet Maternal Health 2016 series: http://www.thelancet.com/series/maternal-health-2016

We recommend you spend two days reading before the course starts. Please read the executive summaries and overview papers of each series before reading additional individual papers if you have time.