Improving health and reducing inequalities through pioneering research and education.

The Department of Public Health, Policy and Systems is one of the largest of its kind in the UK and has a world-leading status for its excellence in research and education. Underpinning all our activities is the social model of health and its application to health inequalities, and to health and social care systems.

“The challenging years ahead will need a robust public health voice as we recover from the pandemic. We will be that voice.

The people in our Department understand the importance, value and urgency of improving health for everybody in our communities. For that, they work hard, creatively and enthusiastically to discover new solutions through excellent research and contribute to educating the next generation of people who want to do the same."

- Professor Martin O'Flaherty, Head of Department

Our challenges

Policy Research on Social Determinants and Health Inequalities

We are analysing how to improve the systems that society needs to put in place to promote, sustain and protect health, prevent disease and care for the sick. Specifically, we aim to understand then tackle inequalities in the wider social determinants of health and wellbeing.

Non-Communicable Disease [NCD] Prevention and Food Policy

Using cutting edge methodologies, our researchers analyse, interpret and promote effective, equitable and cost-effective policy interventions to promote health and prevent non-communicable diseases. Our findings have informed governmental policies, recently underpinning UK dietary sugar and salt reduction, and EU transfats regulation.

Energy, Air Pollution and Global Health

We are conducting research to address Household air pollution (HAP), one of the biggest global public health issues responsible for 2.3 million premature deaths in 2019 for the 3 billion households who rely on solid fuels for household energy, primarily in lower-and-middle income countries (LMICs).

Health Systems Research and Analysis

We undertake pioneering research on the concepts and functions of health systems, and health policy, drawing on our expertise in health services research and in health data science and informatics. We lead large scale projects that contribute to the design of interventions for public health, dentistry and health services, both in the UK and internationally.

Research centres

NIHR Applied Research Collaborative (ARC) North West Coast

The Department co-leads the Public Health programme working with ten North West local authorities and community organisations to increase resilience in disadvantaged neighbourhoods.

WHO Collaborating Centre For Policy Research on Determinants of Health Equity

We lead projects on employment and health, control in the living environment, and child health inequalities.

Centre for the Humanities of Health, Medicine and Technology

This provides a forum for researchers to engage with critical health issues across the academic community and with external partners.




Case studies

Equitable access to clean energy for the prevention of non-communicable disease

Globally 3 billion people rely on polluting solid fuels (wood, charcoal) or kerosene for cooking and heating their homes. Exposure to household air pollution (HAP) from burning these fuels is associated with an increased risk of pneumonia in children under 5 years, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases in adults and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Dissemination of our research through public and ministerial engagement and national media has facilitated transition from reliance on polluting solid fuels to LPG through evidence-based policy and heightened population awareness.

Food Policies & Disease Prevention – the IMPACT model

Food Policies & Disease Prevention – the IMPACT model.

Heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia and cancers cause over 90% of premature UK deaths; however, most are preventable. Professor Simon Capewell, Professor Martin O’Flaherty, Dr Chris Kypridemos and team have led a comprehensive research programme using innovative computational models to define epidemiological trends, then quantify and compare potential health, economic and equity benefits of healthier food policies to prevent non-communicable diseases.

Policy in practice: research that reduces health and social inequalities

A baby girl born in Kensington in Liverpool can expect to live 13 fewer years in good health than one born and raised in Kensington, London. “This is not just about differences between north and south, but the stark health divide between rich and poor areas within every UK region,” says Professor Dame Margaret Whitehead.

Accreditations and partnerships

Our local and global partnerships provide vital support to our research activity.

World Health Organization (WHO)

The Department is a designated WHO Collaborating Centre for Policy Research on Determinants of Health Equity, working with WHO Headquarters, WHO Europe, and other such centres worldwide.

Departments of Public Health Sciences

We have longstanding collaborations with the Department of Public Health Sciences at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, and the University of Copenhagen.

Liverpool City Council

We work closely with local health and social care partners. The Director of Public Health for Liverpool City Council, Matt Ashton, holds an honorary professorship in our department.

NIHR School for Public Health Research (SPHR) through LiLaC: the Liverpool and Lancaster Universities Collaboration for Public Health Research

Master of Public Health MPH

Established in 1989, the Master of Public Health (MPH) degree is internationally respected for its multidisciplinary focus and commitment to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Health for All principles. It is an essential programme if you are working in any area of public health: governmental organisations; health services management; policy and planning; housing; transport; or for community groups and NGOs. With its modular format and open learning facilities the programme can be studied to Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma or Masters levels within the University.