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HLSC641 Introduction to Health Sciences Research


PUBH649, PUBH655

Unit rationale, description and aim

Research, the process of knowledge generation and communication, is a cornerstone of public health. Over the course of two units (PUBH651 Thesis A and PUBH652 Thesis B) completed in two semesters (one unit per semester) students will design, undertake and report on research they conduct under approved academic supervision. PUBH651 Thesis A addresses the first phase of the research project. In consultation with their supervisor(s), students will select a research topic relevant to public health that has sufficient scope to enable application of advanced reasoning and research skills. Students will first conduct a literature review on their selected topic, providing the background and rationale for their proposed research. Students will then design and write a detailed and feasible proposal for a research project that they will undertake in the following semester within PUBH652 Thesis B.

The research proposal will be assessed both by oral and written presentation. The aim of this unit, PUBH651 Thesis A, is to enable students to apply their knowledge of health research by producing a literature review and research proposal as the foundation for conducting independent research towards the completion of a public health research thesis in PUBH652.

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 independent learning and critical thinking in conducting a well-constructed literature review on a public health topicGC1, GC3, GC7, GC9, GC11
LO2Demonstrate advanced knowledge and skills in designing a substantial, feasible and ethical research projectGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC9, GC11
LO3Integrate relevant literature, concepts and research method(s) into the research proposalGC1, GC2, GC6, GC9, GC11
LO4Present the literature review and research proposal for a professional audienceGC1, GC2, GC3, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12


PUBH651 comprises a range of activities associated with a research project - topic selection, formulation of a research question, review of existing evidence and literature on the chosen topic, selection of research method(s), and application for research ethics approvals (if required). The subsequent unit, PUBH652, comprises the conduct and management of research activities, analysis of results and preparation of a research thesis/manuscript. 

Student research activities are distributed across Public Health Research Thesis A and B (PUBH651 and PUBH652), culminating in the final research thesis/ manuscript.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

PUBH651 uses an active learning approach to support students to undertake supervised independent public health research in the subsequent unit PUBH652.

The unit is offered in both multi-mode and online mode. 

Teaching and learning strategies for all students are primarily via supervision sessions involving reflective/critical thinking activities and web-based learning. Teaching and learning strategies will reflect the expectation of students as independent learners. Students are expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively within supervision sessions. 

In this unit, students will complete a literature review and research proposal, in preparation for undertaking their research project in PUBH652. Students will work under the supervision of a principal supervisor, with other co-/associate supervisors as appropriate. Supervisors will advise the student on the development and conduct of research as appropriate, and will meet with the student at regular intervals to discuss progress and provide guidance. This strategy will accommodate students who can utilise all available tools for supervision including video conferencing tools for supervision sessions. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

Please note assessment is the same for students undertaking either multi-mode or online mode. 

Students are supported to develop a literature review on a specific public health research topic, situating their research question within the existing body of literature. Students will then develop a written research proposal to identify, develop and plan appropriate research methods in preparation for undertaking independent research in PUBH652. Students will also orally present their research proposal for an academic audience. Assessment items are designed to scaffold students' knowledge and skill development in health research with support from their supervisor. Each assessment item builds on the previous one and contributes to the final aim of preparation and submission of the final research thesis (PUBH652). 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment 1: Written literature review.

This enables students to identify, critique and synthesise relevant literature on a specific public health research topic.    


LO1, LO4

Assessment 2: Oral presentation.

This enables students to present and justify the proposed research and to demonstrate effective oral presentation skills. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

Assessment 3: Written research proposal.

This enables students to apply the outcome of the literature review to identify, develop and plan appropriate research methods in preparation for undertaking independent research in PUBH652 on a specific public health research topic. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

Representative texts and references

Anderson, J. & Poole, M.E. (2001). Assignment and thesis writing (4th ed.). John Wiley & Sons. 

Bouma, G. & Carland S. (2016). The Research Process. (6th ed.) Oxford University Press. 

O’Collins, G. (2011). A short guide to writing a thesis: What to do and what not to do. ATF Press. 

Thomas, S.A. (2000). How to write health sciences papers, dissertations and theses. Churchill Livingstone. 

White, B. (2011). Mapping your thesis: the comprehensive manual of theory and techniques for masters and doctoral research. ACER Press. 

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