Project Description

Philosophy of the Programme:

The underlying philosophy of the programme has the following components.

  • 1. Preventable morbidities and mortalities related to reproductive and family health continue to constitute great burdens on societies and families in developing countries, especially Nigeria. In particular, maternal and child deaths are extremely high in Nigeria and have been shown to be the most distinguishing features between developed and developing countries.

  • 2. Efforts to correct this challenge have not only been insufficient but have been largely lacking in technical content that integrates the underlying social-cultural, economic, political and medical factors.

  • 3. While maternal and child morbidities and mortalities often receive separate disciplinary attention, they have been widely shown to be closely linked in terms of their underlying social-cultural, economic and political determinants. These determinants and their resulting maternal and child morbidities and mortalities are closely interwoven with and deeply rooted in family life. Reproductive health interventions and training therefore deserve separate and integrated approaches in the context of family life.

  • 4. The programme was developed based on the conviction that an integrated public health approach, led by human resources with high-level technical skills and competence, is a major and desirable contribution to the significant reduction of morbidities and mortalities related to reproductive and family health, especially maternal and child deaths.

  • 5. The programme recognises reproductive and family health as a multidisciplinary subject with a minimum definition that includes those provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action (ICPD POA). A definition of reproductive and family health should include a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity of the reproductive system and the family; it is a constellation of methods, techniques and services that contribute to reproductive and family wellbeing, which includes sexual health, designed to enhance the quality of life and personal relations.

Aim of The Programme

The overall aim of the programme is to develop human resources with high-level technical skills and competence to provide and lead integrated preventive and promotive public health interventions in reproductive and family health.


The following are the objectives of the programme:

  • 1. To provide training that incorporates the historic, sociocultural, economic, political and conflict-related contexts that impact on the health of women, children and families.

  • 2. To provide training that covers, but not limited to, family planning, infertility, safe motherhood, reproductive tract infections, gender-based violence, genital tract cancers and human sexuality and responsible parenthood.

  • 3. To build capacity for applying general public health approaches in addressing reproductive health challenges.

  • 4. To incorporate best practices in teaching, learning and research in reproductive and family health in line with the objectives and programmes of CERHI.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the PhD in Public Health (Reproductive and Family Health) training programme, graduates are expected to be able to:

  • 1. Identify the causes and effects of major health problems that occur during pregnancy, infancy, childhood and adolescence.

  • 2. Assess the health care needs of women and children.

  • 3. Integrate the understanding of life course with multiple determinants of health in developing solutions to reproductive and family health challenges.

  • 4. Conduct research related to the health and well-being of families, especially women and children.

  • 5. Demonstrate the ability to provide scientific, including epidemiological, evidence as basis for developing reproductive and family health programmes.

  • 6. Manage (plan, implement and evaluate) sexual, reproductive and family health programmes in diverse settings.

  • 7. Head teams and organisations involved in reproductive and family health programmes.

  • 8. Conduct of research at the highest level for public health professional and academic training in order to function as technical service providers, researchers and lecturers in universities.

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Programme Duration

The programme will be run on full time and part time bases. The full-time option is designed to last for 24 months with allowance made for a maximum of 48 months. The part-time option is to last for 36 months with allowance made for a maximum of 60 months.

Conditions for Graduation

To graduate, a student must pass
a. all taught courses
b. the practicum.
c. an oral defence of the completed dissertation/thesis, in line with the guidelines of the Postgraduate School.

Conditions for Withdrawal

A full time or a part time student who fails to complete the programme in 48 or 60 months respectively will be required to withdraw.

Grading Procedure

The evaluation and grading shall be done using the following scale (Table 1). A student must score a minimum of 50% (C grade) to pass a course. The course assessment will be based on 30% continuous assessment and 70% examination.

Evaluation and Grading

Alphabetical Grade Percentage Value interpretation Points
A 70 – 100 Excellent 5
B 60 – 69 Very Good 4
C 50 – 59 Pass 3
D 0 – 49 Fail 0


All the courses are core. The course training methods include formal lectures and tutorials on key concepts. Emphasis shall be on supervised students’ activities such as group demonstrations, academic teaching/tutorials in the department, class discussions, etc. largely focusing on research methods, statistics, review of published articles from reputable journals, mock presentations of proposed and completed dissertation/thesis etc. The taught courses consist of theoretical and practical bodies of knowledge to equip the student for research. They are to last for 1 semester.

A student who fails a course in any year must re-register for the course in the following year. The courses must be passed before the candidate can submit a draft dissertation/thesis proposal to the Departmental Postgraduate Committee.

If the Departmental Postgraduate Committee determines that a student lacks sufficient background in research methods, biostatistics, epidemiology or reproductive and family health, the committee may request the applicant to take the relevant elective courses as electives at master’s level.

PPH 911 – 915 are taught courses common to all PhD Public Health programmes. The courses are based on the expectation that candidates are knowledgeable in them as taught at the MPH level. The course synopses for the PhD programme should, therefore, be seen as continuations of those of the respective MPH course synopses. The courses will be taught in the first semester. All the seminars, practicum and dissertation/thesis must focus on reproductive and family health. Tables 2 and 3 summarise the courses and the years and semesters in which they will be taken in the full time programme. Part time students are to take their taught courses and the examinations on these courses along with full time students, but will have the opportunity to present their seminars, do their practicum and conduct their dissertations within the remaining timeframe of their programme.

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Outline of Coursework: Year 1
Course Code Course Title L T P CU
PPH 911 Advanced Principles of Epidemiology 3 0 0 3
PPH 912 Advanced Quantitative Research Methods 3 0 0 3
PPH 913 Advanced Qualitative Research Methods 3 0 0 3
PPH 914 Advanced Biostatistics for Health Research 3 0 0 3
PPH 915 Advanced Research Ethics 3 0 0 3
Second Semester
PPH 921 Field Practicum
PPH 922 Seminar I (Proposal of Dissertation/Thesis) 0 0 4 4
(PPH 999) Dissertation/Thesis (commences) 0 0 3 3

Outline of Coursework: Year 2

Course Code Course Title L T P CU
First Semester
PPH 931 Seminar II (Field practicum report) 0 0 3 3
PPH 932 Seminar III (A contemporary topical issue) 0 0 3 3
Second Semester
PPH 933 0 0 3 3
PPH 999 0 0 6 6

Course Synopses

PPH 911: Advanced Principles of Epidemiology

The purpose of this course is to equip students with doctoral-level skills in epidemiological principles as a framework for understanding their application in public health. The course builds on the principles of epidemiology taught at the master’s level, and students are advised to update themselves in that course.

The overall coverage of this course is the study of the frequency, distribution, determinants and deterrents of diseases and health-related states in human populations and the application of these to promote, protect and restore health.

Themes to be covered include the concept of causation, disease causation, natural history of diseases, measurement of health, disease and deaths, epidemics, study designs, errors, confounding, interaction, effect modification, colinearity, disease surveillance and response, health management information system, etc. Disease prevention, control, elimination, eradication will be treated in details (including screening and screening programmes) and the principles of their applications in communicable and non-communicable diseases and injuries.

While statistical and research methods are taught in other courses, students are expected to be familiar with them in order to gain sufficient conventional knowledge in advanced epidemiology. Thus, students are expected to be familiar with the various methods for different study designs.

PPH 912: Advanced Quantitative Research Methods

This course is structured to enable students to develop advanced quantitative research skills which have relevance to a PhD degree by research. It builds on quantitative research methods taught at the master’s level, and students are advised to update themselves in the quantitative research methods module at that level.

It covers a detailed study of the research process. Students are expected to have gained satisfactory knowledge and skills in quantitative research methods at the MPH level. They will learn topical concepts that will enable them to formulate and test relevant research hypotheses, design studies, conduct rigorous data analysis, interpret results, report and present research findings evaluate existing quantitative research. The topics to be covered will include instrumentation, sampling, reliability, and validity, preparation of a quantitative research plan, observational, experimental and quasi-experimental study designs, and operations research. Skills will be taught on proposal writing for research grants. There is a strong emphasis on the use of statistical tools in data analysis and interpretation using computer packages. Mixed methods in research are highlighted.

PPH 913: Advanced Qualitative Research Methods

This course is meant to enable students design and implement a PhD research with qualitative research content, usually as supportive and explanatory to quantitative research (mixed methods). It builds on qualitative research methods taught at the master’s level, and students are advised to update themselves in the qualitative research methods module at that level.

The course covers the meaning of qualitative research, research paradigms, qualitative research design, qualitative inquiry process, qualitative data collection and analysis and qualitative report writing. Methods to be covered include focus group discussion, key informant interview, in-depth interview, mystery client trial, narrative, phenomenology, grounded theory, ethnography and case studies.

PPH 914: Advanced Biostatistics for Health Research

The course introduces the concepts and methods of statistics as applied to diverse problems in public health and medicine. It builds on the biostatistics course taught at the master’s level, and students are advised to update themselves in that course.

This course demonstrates methods of  exploring, organizing, and presenting data, and introduces fundamentals of probability distributions and conditional probability, with applications to 2×2 tables; presents the foundations of statistical inference, including concepts of population, sample parameter, and estimate; and estimate; and approaches to inferences using the likelihood function, confidence intervals, and hypothesis tests. It introduces and employs the statistical computing package, STATA, to manipulate data.

The course also presents fundamental concepts in applied probability, exploratory data analysis, and statistical inference, focusing on probability and anaylsis of one and two samples. Topics include discrete and continuous probability models; expectations and variance; central limit theorem; inference, including hypothesis testing and confidence for means, proportions, and counts; maximal likelihood estimate. Sample size determination; non-parametric methods; graphical displays; and data transformation.

Statistical methods for analysing epidemiological studies will be taught with using at least one of STATA, SPSS, and Epi Info. Skills will be taught on screening data for normality, managing missing values, bivariate analysis, exploratory factor analysis, multivariate methods, multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA), multiple regression analysis (linear and logistic), discriminant analysis and structural equation modelling. Basic methods are expected to have been learnt at lower degree levels, but will be demonstrated. Advanced methods will include logistic regression (conditional and unconditional), Poisson regression for cohort studies, survival analysis and proportionate hazards regression, etc.

 PPH 915: Advanced Research Ethics

This course is designed to equip students at doctoral level with the highest level of skills to ensure ethical compliance in the conduct of research in line with local and international standards and requirements. It builds on research ethics taught at the master’s level, and students are advised to update themselves in the research ethics module at that level.

Themes to be covered include foundation theories in ethics (virtue ethics, value ethics, deontologism, consequentialism and principlism), differences between clinical and research ethics, exemptions from ethical oversight, informed consent, harm, benefit, risk-benefit calculus, ethical dilemma, standard of care, ethics committees, community relations, international research, clinical trial agreement, material transfer agreement, etc. Features of ethical considerations in experimental research will be emphasised. The National Code of Health Research Ethics will be studied in detail. Requirements for ethical research in selected international codes of ethics, procedures for applying for ethical approval from local and foreign research ethics committees, will be covered. The course will also deal with publication ethics. Research integrity and research misconduct will be covered. Historical and contemporary cases in unethical conduct of research and research misconduct will be critically reviewed. Measures to limit unethical research and research misconduct will be covered.

PPH 921: Field Practicum

The practicum is a 12-week structured and supervised practice-based learning in an institution approved by the department as having health programmes and activities in the student’s subspecialty sufficient in standard and magnitude for a PhD practicum. Alternatively, an institution may be thus approved if its setting permits innovative and beneficial introduction of sexual, reproductive and family health functions and activities by a candidate adjudged to possess sufficient skills, experience, competence and resources to do so. The practicum comes up during the second semester of the first year of the programme. It will be scored by an assigned supervisor, guided by valid log-book records endorsed in the practice industry. The detailed and well-discussed report of the practicum shall be one of the seminars to be presented by the student.

PPH 922, 931, 932, 933: Seminars

Each student shall present a total of 4 doctoral seminars. The first seminar shall be a presentation of the approved dissertation/thesis proposal. The second shall be the report of the practicum. The third shall be on a contemporary and topical issue in reproductive and family health. The fourth shall be the students completed dissertation/thesis. All seminars shall be presented at a meeting of lecturers and postgraduate students of the department and resident doctors undergoing postgraduate training in the department in University of Benin Teaching Hospital. Each seminar shall be scored by qualified teachers in the programme who are present at the seminar. The final score for each seminar shall be the mean of validly awarded scores.

Dissertation/Thesis Proposal

Students are expected to have thought through at least one major research problem, expressed as research questions, for their dissertation/thesis before entry into the programme. These questions are to be developed into a set of objectives around which they are to review relevant literature which will serve as a precursor to a full draft dissertation/thesis proposal by the end of their first semester of study. Details of the procedure and timelines are presented in the Table below:

Procedure and Timelines for the Development of Dissertation/Thesis Proposal

0-4th month
The student submits the introduction and literature review of the intended dissertation/thesis to the Departmental Postgraduate Committee.
Within 2 weeks of submission, the Departmental Postgraduate Committee (DPC) determines, whether the submission demonstrates sufficient understanding and scholarship regarding the subject matter, research problem/research questions, justification, hypotheses and pertinent literature.
If satisfied, the DPC requests the student to develop and submit a draft dissertation/thesis proposal to it. The student does so.
5th month
Upon submission, the DPC sends the draft proposal for review by three assessors, two of whom shall be the intended supervisors – one local (in the University of Benin) and another from a reputable foreign university. At least two assessors submit their comments.
If no assessor recommends discontinuation of the research process, consent to nominate as supervisor is obtained from the intended supervisors.
  1. The DPC recommends to the School of Postgraduate Studies (through the School of Medicine Board of Studies and the College Academic Board) two supervisors for the dissertation/thesis, one of whom is specified as the lead supervisor and one of whom shall be a professor in a reputable foreign university; and
  2.  the recommendation is accompanied by the student’s application for approval of the title of the dissertation/thesis by the        postgraduate school.
6th month
The student makes changes in the proposal as may be required.
With the guidance and approval of the local supervisor, the student seeks ethical clearance for the intended research from the Research Ethics Committee of the College of Medical Sciences, University of Benin (or any other appropriate research ethics committee) in line with the provisions of the National Code of Health Research Ethics and the Helsinki Declaration, and other relevant codes as may be required.
7th–8th month
The student

  1. presents the proposal to the department as a doctoral seminar; and
  2. commences field work on the dissertation/thesis, following Research Ethics Committee’s approval.
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