Credit points


Campus offering

Find out more about study modes.

Unit offerings may be subject to minimum enrolment numbers.

Please select your preferred campus.

  • Term Mode
  • ACU Term 1Online Unscheduled
  • ACU Term 2Online Unscheduled
  • ACU Term 3Online Unscheduled
  • ACU Term 4Online Unscheduled


HLSC640 Interpreting Health Research AND (HLSC646 Qualitative Research Methods OR HLSC647 Quantitative Research Methods OR HLSC642 Biostatistics for Health Sciences ) AND a minimum GPA of 5.5 across completed units

Teaching organisation

300 hours of focussed learning

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit and HLSC624 Research Dissertation Part B involve the completion of a research project leading to the preparation of an academic dissertation normally up to 15,000 and no more than 18,000 words in length. This unit is required by students to ensure the fulfilment of the requirements of their Master course, that is, the Australian Qualifications Framework's requirement for independent project work in the Master by coursework.

This unit supports students in applying a range of theoretically-based advanced knowledge and skills that foster culturally safe, high quality effective health care through the identification of a research question and the ability to formulate a defensible research proposal based on a review of the most relevant available literature. Under the guidance of an approved supervisor the student will then conduct an individual research project in order to provide insight into the research question. Thus, students will be supported to evaluate the role of evidence-based ethical practice in creating an effective solution to a unique health-related administrative, leadership, educational or clinical challenge. The resultant enquiry will be reported in the form of a Dissertation to be submitted for independent examination.

The aim of this unit is to provide students with the opportunity to undertake self-motivated study and transition to life-long learning as a self-reliant and critically reflective professional.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Demonstrate knowledge and skills of research processes by in designing and conducting a substantial research projectGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12
LO2Demonstrate conceptual understanding of the relevant literature, hypothesis or research question and research method as applied to a research projectGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12
LO3Conduct the research in an ethical and methodological wayGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12
LO4Critically report results and draw valid conclusionsGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12
LO5Demonstrate an ordered, critical and reasoned exposition of the knowledge gained through the research projectGC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12


The specific content will focus on the topic selected for investigation. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Learning will be largely by means of a mentoring relationship with the allocated supervisor. The student will negotiate a learning contract with their approved supervisor and be supported to develop a research question. The student will present their initial research proposal to professional peers, prior to the preparation and submission of a research proposal. Students will be expected to meet regularly with their supervisor on an individual basis and encouraged to draw on and apply the knowledge gained within their coursework units to their own research projects. The frequency of consultation might be expected to vary at different times in the process and reflects respect for the student as an independent learner who takes responsibility for their own learning and its successful outcomes. Meetings with the lecturer in charge throughout the semester will provide an opportunity for students to reflect on their own progress and identify where further support or skill development may be required. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements. 

Achievement of the unit objectives will be determined through the student identifying a topic for investigation and completing a learning contract and research seminar. These assessment tasks provide a scaffold for the student’s learning, with the final task being the written research proposal. The assessments in this unit support Part B of the Research Dissertation unit, unit HLSC624 during which the final Dissertation is completed

These assessments are required to build student knowledge and skills in research which, by the conclusion of their course, will enable them to graduate the Master course as a self-reliant and critically reflective professional.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1 - Learning Contract

Enables students to develop a strategic approach to their research and undertake negotiation with their supervisor.


LO1, LO3

Assessment Task 2 - Seminar

Enables students to achieve sound communication skills and to showcase their research to professional peers.  


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

Assessment Task 3 - Project Proposal

Enables students to show competence in research design - aim, objectives, expected outcomes, timeframes and evidence in support of the research.


LO1, LO2, LO4, LO5

Representative texts and references

Bettany-Saltikov, J. (2012). How to do a systematic literature review in nursing: A step-by-step guide. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press, McGraw-Hill.

Booth, A., Papaioannou, D., & Sutton, A. (2016). Systematic approaches to a successful literature review (2nd ed.). London: Sage

Bush, H.M. (2012). Biostatistics: An applied introduction for the public health practitioner. Clifton Park, NY: Delmar Cengage Learning.

Hoffmann, T., Bennet, S., & Del Mar, C. (2013). Evidence-based practice across the health professions (2nd ed.). London: Elsevier Health Sciences.

Holly, C., Walmond, S. W., & Saimbert, M. K. (2011). Comprehensive systematic review for advanced nursing practice. New York: Springer.

Liamputtong. P. (Ed.). (2013). Research methods in health: Foundations for evidence-based practice (2nd ed.). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Polit, D. F., & Beck, C. T. (2017). Essentials of nursing research: Appraising evidence for nursing practice (10th ed.). Philadelphia, Pa.: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Torraco, R. J. (2005). Writing integrative literature reviews: Guidelines and examples. Human Resource Development Review, 4(3), 356 – 367.

Tashakkori, A., & Teddlie, C. (2010). Sage handbook of mixed methods in social and behavioural research (2nd ed.). Los Angeles: Sage Publications

Wright-St Clair, V., Reid, D., Shaw, S., & Ramsbotham, J. (Eds.). (2014). Evidence-based health practice. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press. 

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs