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CPD in Occupational Medicine: course details

This course consists of three units: Foundation for Postgraduate Practice, Fitness for Work, and Health and Workability.

More information on these units and other details of the course can be found below.

Course aims and learning outcomes

The course aims to: 

  • provide an overview of the organisation of occupational health services in the UK;
  • explain the current health and safety at work legislation;
  • describe the common occupational hazards and diseases, their assessment and management;
  • introduce the disciplines of occupational hygiene, toxicology, epidemiology and ergonomics and equip you with some of the relevant practical skills;
  • extend your appreciation of the relevance of your clinical skills to the workplace environment;
  • encourage you to develop an active interest in occupational medicine and its relationship to your day-to-day work.

The learning outcomes are intended to: 

  • introduce you to the knowledge and skills required in those areas of medicine, science and hygiene that are encompassed by occupational health;
  • acquaint you with the UK (and some EU) legislation covering health and safety at work;
  • describe and define the relationships and responsibilities of the occupational physician with management, trades unions, employees, and other branches of the profession/other appropriate agencies;
  • give you a good foundation on which to build and extend your knowledge of occupational health during the developments to come in the years ahead.

Course delivery and technical requirements

The course is delivered through a blend of written materials in electronic format (PDFs) and interactive teaching material, supported by seminars and tutorials.

We offer a taster of what we provide as part of our learning materials for our postgraduate courses in Occupational Medicine.

All materials are accessed solely online via the University's virtual learning environment, Blackboard.

You will require regular access to a modern PC (Windows or Mac) with a stable internet connection.

You should be confident in using the internet for web browsing and sending emails, and also using word processing software, such as Microsoft Word.

Support is provided wherever possible for students experiencing technical issues via the University's IT Helpdesk. However, we cannot be held responsible for problems arising from students failing to ensure they have the minimum technical specification.


The Foundation for Postgraduate Practice and Fitness for Work units are supported by face-to-face seminars.

The purpose of the seminars is to put into context the information covered by the teaching material. Each seminar will include summative best fit questions based on the teaching material covered in the relevant unit. This means that you will be required to study the teaching material in advance of the seminar.

Portfolio preparation

Portfolio preparation is provided and supported through the third unit, Health and Workability. This will take place through online discussion groups facilitated by specialist physicians in occupational medicine.

Please note that the online tutoring activities are not assessed and their purpose is to prepare you to produce the portfolio required by the FOM (as part of the FOM's DOccMed examination).


The course is assessed by summative methods designed to be a learning experience in itself.

POPH68880: Foundation for Postgraduate Practice syllabus

This introductory unit is designed around the needs of the practising clinician from any speciality entering occupational medicine.

Together with the second unit, Fitness for Work, the aim is to provide an overview of the speciality, along with in-depth knowledge in certain limited areas of practice generic to the work of the majority of practitioners.

At the conclusion of these, the practitioner should be able to work effectively in his or her own area of occupational health (OH) practice, recognising those areas where reference to more specialist knowledge and advice is required.

Occupational Health in Perspective Covers the establishment and role of the Health and Safety Commission, the Health and Safety Executive and the Employment Medical Advisory Service. It also provides information on the basic function of an occupational health service and the role of the occupational physician.
Introduction to Occupational Health Law Provides an understanding of how law affects the practice of occupational health and the legal concepts of negligence and breach of statutory duty. Also covers legislation of significance to occupational health (eg Equality Act, COSHH).
Introduction to Communication Builds on the communication skills students should already possess and shows how to apply these skills in the practice of occupational medicine.
Ethical Considerations in Practice Provides an awareness of the principal areas of ethical concern in occupational medical practice and an understanding of how the ethical issues in occupational medicine differ from those found in other areas of clinical practice.
Introduction to Toxicology Provides an understanding of the terminology used in toxicology, the principles of target organ toxicity and the responses to exposure of the major organ systems in the body. Also covers the adverse effects of chemicals on the reproductive system, the mechanisms of genotoxicity and carcinogenicity and the classifications used for carcinogenicity. In addition, describes the most important experimental testing systems in use and covers the regulations relating to the distribution of chemicals.
Introduction to Occupational Hygiene Covers the principles of occupational hygiene, including methods of measurement, risk assessment and application of controls.
Introduction to Lighting Covers the basic definitions and terminology used in lighting for Health and Safety, the role that lighting plays in Health and Safety and the hazards associated with lighting.
Introduction to Temperature and Work Outlines the underlying principles of the thermal environment in the workplace, particularly in relation to heat and cold stress. Also provides an understanding of the principles of thermal control and of the relevant heat flow mechanisms. Covers the use of stress and strain indices, how they developed and how they are applied.
Introduction to Noise and Vibration This unit covers the basic principles of the nature and measurement of noise and vibration, the adverse health effects of noise and vibration and how to assess and monitor these clinically. It also outlines the legislative requirements in the UK regarding noise and vibration and how to apply these to the control of exposure.
Introduction to Hazardous Substances Provides an understanding of what a hazardous substance is, the different categories of hazardous substances and how they have an effect on the human body. Also covers the European and Global Harmonisation hazardous substances symbols, risk and safety phrases and how to understand the contents of a material safety data sheet.

POPH68860: Fitness for Work syllabus

Building on the foundation of the first unit, this unit aims to give detail in areas relevant to the practising occupational physician.

For the physician, the emphasis is on gaining an appreciation of the more common occupational diseases and their incidence, the principles of health surveillance, and the assessment of fitness for work and disability.

Recognising Occupational Disease Provides an understanding of the concepts of work-related and occupational disease. In addition, shows how to identify the factors that lead to an association between illness and occupation, and the factors that may affect susceptibility to occupational disease.
Introduction to Occupational Dermatology Provides revision on the basic anatomy and physiology of the skin and an understanding of how dermatological problems present in occupational health practice. Also covers the main features of occupational contact dermatitis and explains the difference between irritant and allergic contact dermatitis.
Introduction to Musculoskeletal Disorders Presents the basic mechanisms of work-related musculoskeletal injuries, with particular reference to lower back injuries and upper limb disorders. Shows the student how to recognise the presentation of symptoms, and presents methods to treat and prevent them. Also outlines the importance of prevention in controlling MSDs related to work.
Introduction to the Respiratory System Presents the principles by which the respiratory system may be affected by occupational exposures. Also covers the more important occupational lung diseases, their pathophysiology and causes, as well as providing an understanding of how to investigate a suspected case of occupational lung disease.
Introduction to Occupational Infections Covers the range and importance of occupationally related infections, with particular reference to conditions of importance in healthcare workers. Also covers some of the microbiological risks attached to particular industries and occupations. Provides an understanding of the role of the occupational physician in preventing and managing certain occupational infections, with particular reference to blood-borne infections in the healthcare setting.
Mental Ill Health and Stress at Work Examines the challenges facing occupational physicians in dealing with the problem of mental ill-health and stress at work. Covers the spectrum of mental health at work, stress caused or made worse by work, managing organisational stress and policies on dealing with stress.
Introduction to Epidemiology Provides an understanding of the main terms and definition used in epidemiology and the epidemiological principles relevant to studying disease in the working population.
Health Assessment, Surveillance and Screening Provides an understanding of the principles of health surveillance, the importance of being able to advise employees on the need for health surveillance, and the setting up of appropriate programmes.
Sickness Absence Covers the indices of measurement of sickness absence and the main variables and influences in the causation of sickness absence. Provides an understanding of the principles of managing sickness absence in an organisation, as well as the individual case of prolonged or repeated sickness absence.
Disability Assessment Outlines the principles of assessment of disability in relation to occupation and the principles of rehabilitation.

POPH68840: Health and Workability syllabus

The importance of the bio-psychosocial model of disease is now well recognised. The occupational health practitioner has an important role in:

  • promoting health within the workplace;
  • ensuring that organisations are aware of their legal responsibilities regarding fair and equitable working practices;
  • maximising the potential for individuals to return to work after illness or disability.

Given changing demographics, there is also a need to maximise the ability of older employees to remain within employment.

Workplace and Clinical Assessment Skills: the Portfolio

Helps develop the skills required for carrying out workplace and/or clinical assessments. Also assists in preparing a portfolio of cases to be submitted for professional examinations.

Scenarios are provided in video form, aimed at helping to identify workplace hazards and showing examples of cases that may be seen in a clinical setting. In addition, students work online in small groups with support from an e-tutor who is an occupational medicine specialist.

Students engage in online discussion with their peers and benefit from the differing clinical backgrounds and experience contained within the groups.

Advanced Portfolio

This contains a range of case studies covering a wide cross-section of the course material. It is intended as an opportunity for students to reflect on specific aspects of course material, identify possible gaps in their knowledge, and apply problem-solving skills to workplace scenarios using knowledge gained from the other units.

It also encourages students to reflect on whether personal practice is consistent with good occupational medical practice and, finally, offers an opportunity for students taking the DOccMed to gain experience in addressing the types of questions that may arise in the Portfolio oral assessment.

Contact us

Tel: +44 (0)161 275 1798