Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


HLSC641 Introduction to Health Sciences Research , HLSC621 Introduction to Health Sciences Research


PUBH650 Public Health Capstone

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.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Demonstrate independent learning and critical thinking in conducting a well-constructed literature review on a public health topic (GA 1-4, 5-10) 

LO2 - Demonstrate advanced knowledge and skills in designing a substantial, feasible and ethical research project (GA 1-9) 

LO3 - Integrate relevant literature, concepts and research method(s) into the research proposal (GA 4-6, 8) 

LO4 - Present the literature review and research proposal for a professional audience  

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


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

Student research activities are distributed across Public Health Research Thesis A and B (PUBH651 and PUBH652), culminating in the final research thesis of up to 10,000 words. A hurdle requirement for PUBH652 after completion of PUBH651 is the preparation of a brief progress report at the “midpoint” of the research process; the timing of this report will be determined by the MPH Course Coordinator in conjunction with the student’s academic supervisor, taking into account either successive or concurrent research thesis unit sequencing. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

PUBH651 is offered in both multi-mode and online mode. 

Teaching and learning strategies for both mixed mode and online 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 will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively within supervision sessions. 

Students will undertake their research thesis under 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 both mixed-mode and online mode students who can utilise all available tools for supervision including skype and other web 2.0 tools for supervision sessions. 


Supervisors will advise students on the aims, scope and presentation of their final research thesis, and critically review drafts as necessary. Supervisors will also provide final comments on a completed thesis draft prior to submission for examination, and advise students on the potential for later publication. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

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

In order to promote independent learning and in negotiation with their supervisor, the student will develop a learning contract outlining the requirements of the research project and projected submission date. Students are supported to submit a literature review as a requirement for this unit. Students will verbally present and prepare a research proposal, situating their research question within the existing body of literature.  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). Appointment of examiners and the examination process will be conducted in accordance with the research thesis requirements of Australian Catholic University’s Guidelines for Postgraduate Coursework Programs

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Written learning contract to outline expectations between supervisor and student and foster a student-centred approach to learning. 


LO1, LO2 

GA4, GA5 

Written literature review enabling students to identify, critique and synthesise relevant literature on a specific public health research topic.    


LO1 - LO3 


Oral presentation enabling students to present and justify proposed research and to demonstrate effective oral presentation skills. 


LO1 – LO4 


Written project proposal enabling 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 – LO4 


Representative texts and references

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

Bouma, G. & Carland S. (2016). The Research Process. OUP Higher Education Division 

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

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

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

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