Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


HLSC640 Interpreting Health Research OR HLSC641 Introduction to Health Sciences Research

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning

Unit rationale, description and aim

The broad aim of this unit is to provide students with a strong research foundation for those who elect to undertake the research stream at Master’s degree level. This unit is necessary for students to be able to execute knowledge and skills in order to plan and execute a substantial research–based project, capstone experience and/or piece of scholarship that responds to an administrative, leadership, educational or clinical challenge in health care.

The unit meets the course objectives of preparing students to analyse and synthesise complex information and to use decision–making skills to respond to emerging challenges within a dynamic health environment. Specifically this unit aims to develop students’ abilities to use qualitative research methods in the context of ethical, person centred health related research. A variety of research approaches will be explored. Research questions, research design and research methods for qualitative data collection and analysis will be examined with a view to developing and conducting rigorous qualitative research.

The aim of this unit is to develop student’s knowledge and skill in relation to qualitative research methods so as to prepare them to undertake a scholarly research–based project.

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 - align the role of the researcher with a selected qualitative research approach (GA1, GA2, GA3);

LO2 - apply knowledge of ethical risks to design, plan, justify and conduct a rigorous qualitative research project (GA4, GA9);

LO3 - demonstrate knowledge and skills in selected qualitative research methods of data collection, analysis, interpretation and dissemination (GA4, GA9);

LO4 - apply knowledge and skills in qualitative data management (GA10).

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 

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

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


  • Theoretical and paradigmatic frameworks in qualitative research
  • Interpretive
  • Critical
  • Postmodern
  • Designing qualitative research
  • Qualitative research methodologies (Students may focus on one of the following)
  • ethnography
  • grounded theory
  • phenomenology
  • action research
  • case study
  • historical and archival research
  • Integration studies (systematic reviews) 
  • Trustworthiness in qualitative research
  • Validity
  • Credibility
  • Sensitivity
  • Reflexivity
  • Ethical and legal risks
  • Data collection methods
  • Interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Participant observation
  • Reflective journaling
  • Narrative /Storytelling
  • Text
  • Visual, non-textual data
  • Data analysis methods
  • Dissemination of results
  • Data management

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Teaching and learning strategies utilised in this unit will support students in meeting the aim and achieving the learning outcomes relevant to this unit as well as to the broader course learning outcomes.

Online mode

This unit utilises an active learning approach whereby students will engage in readings and video-recordings, e-Module activities and opportunities to collaborate with peers in an online environment. This can involve, but is not limited to, on-line discussion forums, chat rooms, guided reading and webinars. In addition, learning e-modules and links to electronic readings will be provided on the learning environment online (LEO) so as to guide students’ reading and extend other aspects of online learning. 

Through an online learning platform, students will have the opportunity to reflect on important aspects of qualitative research methods. This may include, but is not limited to, consideration of research paradigms, the position of the researcher in qualitative research and hallmarks of rigour. Working towards the developing a research proposal, students will explore and evaluate different data collection methods or data analysis methods.  

This approach to learning is flexible and inclusive, allowing students the opportunity to analyse and critically evaluate various approaches to qualitative research design in preparation for undertaking a supervised research project.   

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to pass this unit, students are required to submit three graded assessment tasks. In addition, students must achieve a cumulative grade of at least 50% across all assessments. The assessment strategy used allows for the progressive development of knowledge and skills in relation to qualitative research methods so that students can demonstrate their preparedness to undertake a scholarly research-based project using a qualitative research approach.   

In order to develop their preparedness to undertake a scholarly research-based project, students need to develop a firm understanding of important aspects of qualitative research methodology, such as data collection and data analysis. The first assessment task allows students to study and demonstrate their knowledge of these aspects of methodology and to consider whether to continue with this data collection and/or data analysis method in their research proposal. 

The second assessment task involves the submission of posts made on the electronic discussion forum. The discussion forum allows students to demonstrate their initial understanding of important aspects of qualitative research methodology and to extend their knowledge via discussion with the lecturer and peers.

The final assessment task involves the development of a research proposal using qualitative research methodology. This enables students to demonstrate an understanding of the various elements of a research proposal and their knowledge of qualitative research methodology with respect to these elements.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Essay: Data Collection /Analysis

Enables students to demonstrate their understanding of an aspect of qualitative research design.



GA4, GA9, GA10

Discussion Forum

Enables students to collaborate with peers and engage with the lecturer, in an online environment, to extend their knowledge of challenging issues and processes relevant to qualitative research methods


LO2, LO3, 

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA9

Expanded Methods Section of the Research Proposal (2500 words)

Enables students to demonstrate their understanding of various elements of a research proposal and qualitative research methodology, and methods.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, 

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Borbasi, S., & Jackson, D. (2016). Navigating the maze of research: Enhancing nursing and midwifery practice. (4th ed.). Chatswood, NSW: Mosby Elsevier.

Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (Eds.). (2018). The Sage handbook of qualitative research, (5th Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA.: Sage Publications Inc.

Geia, L.K., Hayes, B., & Usher, K. (2013). Yarning/Aboriginal storytelling: Towards an understanding of an Indigenous perspective and its implications for research practice. Contemporary Nurse, 46(1), 13-17.

Grbich, C. (2013). Chapter one: Introduction Qualitative data analysis: An introduction (2nd ed., pp. 1-38). Singapore: Sage.

Liamputtong, P. (2019). Handbook of research methods. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Pope, C. & Mays, N. (Eds.). (2020). Qualitative research in health care. Wiley Blackwell. 

Richardson-Tench, M., Nicholson, P., Taylor, B., Kemode, S., & Robers, K. (2018). Research in nursing, midwifery and allied health: Evidence for best practice (6th ed.). South Melbourne: Cengage Australia.

Walter, M. (Ed.). (2019). Social research methods (4th ed.). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press. 

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