Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


100 cp


PUBH651 Public Health Research Thesis A , PUBH652 Public Health Research Thesis B

Unit rationale, description and aim

Public health capstone comprises a range of practice based experiences which apply and consolidate learning acquired in the Master of Public Health (MPH) program. It is linked to the Australian Qualifications Framework and supported by educational theory on the importance of experiential learning for preparing students for professional practice. Public health capstone integrates students' knowledge and skills from prior units allowing them to directly apply their learnings to public health practice, with the aim of improving and advancing population health. For this unit, students will undertake coursework consisting of three modules covering community engagement, ethics and practice reflections. As the major learning activity of this unit, students will engage in a project consisting of a practice-based public health project, activity or fieldwork that involves the integration of knowledge and skills across multiple public health areas. Students must demonstrate community engagement, as well as reflect on ethical practice public health and competencies. Overall, this unit aims to provide a summative public health practice experience for students to demonstrate their practice readiness and integrate skills and knowledge from their public health course.

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 - Describe personal learning objectives for the practice-based project (GA2, GA5, GA7)

LO2 - Describe public health problems and feasible ways to address them in a particular area of public health practice (GA2, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8)

LO3 - Apply specialized knowledge and skills in public health to a particular practice-based project, in alignment with practice competency standards (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10)

LO4 - Apply relevant ethical standards, community engagement principles and practice reflections throughout the public health activity (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9, 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 

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.


Module topics will include: 


Community Engagement 

  • Introduction to the community engagement: definitions, origins, current methods, key concepts  
  • Engaging with the community especially those who are the most disadvantaged.  
  • Values of partnership, equality, mutual respect and commitment  
  • Working with children, young people and vulnerable adults  
  • Cultural competency  
  • Case studies: examples of community engagement in public health  



  • Definitions of public health ethics: general moral considerations – clusters of moral concepts and norms that are variously called values, principles, or rules 
  • Clinical/medical ethics vs Public health ethics 
  • Beneficence and non-maleficence in public health 
  • Consent & Autonomy in public health 
  • Justice in public health 
  • The role of state vs citizens; Precautionary principle; paternalism;  
  • Case studies: examples of public health ethics  


Practice reflections on how public health activity is linked to coursework  

  • Fundamentals of Health Promotion, Health Promotion Practice, communication in health promotion, cross cultural health promotion, health promotion frameworks, evaluating health promotion programs and challenges in health promotion 
  • Opportunities for Advocacy  
  • Epidemiology: study design, data collection and management, data analysis and reporting 


Practice based experiences: 


A broad range of public health projects, activities or fieldwork can be undertaken in PUBH650, subject to approval of the MPH Course Coordinator. These include, but are not limited to, any of the following: 


  • Project/activity: practice-based quality improvement; knowledge transfer; capacity building; program development, implementation, evaluation; policy analysis or advocacy activity; practice-focused research and reporting. Any project/activity undertaken must have a pre-defined, measurable output for a student to report on. 
  • Fieldwork: students may undertake fieldwork within their area of public health interest. Students must demonstrate that their fieldwork contributes to the health of the relevant community and/or improves the health program, service or system they are working in.  


As part of the learning and teaching strategy for the unit, students will undertake 150 hours of practice-/fieldwork-based activity, not including time spent organising their practice-based experiences or the preparation of assessment tasks for this unit. 


Student must also incorporate an element of community engagement within their practice-based experiences, demonstrating the relationship between public health practice and community engagement in enhancing the health, wellbeing and dignity of people and communities, especially those most marginalised and disadvantaged. 


In general, capstone experiences will be undertaken by students on an individual basis. Group-based capstone experiences (e.g. international fieldwork opportunities) will be considered for PUBH650; however, the level of contribution and assessment from each group member will remain equivalent. 


Students are required to meet mandatory or other requirements as indicated by ACU or placement sites (e.g. vaccinations, Working with Children checks, CPR training, hand hygiene and others). 


Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

PUBH650 is a work integrated learning unit offered in both multi-mode and  online mode  


In multi-mode, students will attend  face-to-face modules on campus. The unit uses an active learning approach where activities support students to link their theoretical knowledge acquired during their MPH to their practical placement. Online activities (e.g. discussion posts) via the ACU Learning Environment Online (LEO) also support this process. The modules are designed to allow students the opportunity to apply lecture content to particular public health contexts, and progressively develop higher level skills of analysis and application of public health practice. 

Online Mode 

In online mode, students acquire essential theoretical knowledge via a series of asynchronous online lessons which includes: recorded on-campus lecture content; online readings, online discussion forums and self-directed learning activities. Students are given the opportunity to attend facilitated synchronous online tutorial classes (virtual classroom) to participate in the development and synthesis of this knowledge with other students.  


Where possible, activities are designed as reusable learning content able to be provided equitably online or modified slightly as required to take into account current information and communication technologies for online delivery. 


In addition, multimode and online students will undertake a minimum of 150 hours project, which could be a practice-/fieldwork-based activity. This will involve linking theory and knowledge with practical scenarios in public health, to prepare students for public health practice.  


Additional teaching and learning strategies used in this unit are university-based fieldwork discussions including briefing/debriefing sessions, oral presentation of their experiences to their colleagues, and discussing the experiences of others.  

 All capstone projects and practice placements  will be subject to approval by the MPH Course Coordinator and supervised by a senior member of staff at Australian Catholic University. 

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. Assessment tasks will be the same for multimode and online mode. Assessment tasks include student reflections on practice readiness (before their capstone project/practice placement). This will provide the opportunity for students to reflect on their competency levels prior to their capstone project, to refine their knowledge, understanding and skills in public health in a practice environment, to develop confidence in the presentation of real life project work to their peers, and to enhance their writing skills and workplace readiness through the compilation of a report and portfolio.


An oral presentation assessment task (either face to face or via an online platform) during the practice-based project will enable students to assimilate specialised knowledge of community engagement, the value of partnership, cultural competency or ethical practice. Oral presentations are to be recorded to allow remote students the opportunity to develop knowledge from other students work. The final assessment task will assess students’ ability to apply public health knowledge to practice, through a written portfolio. 

A hurdle requirement for this unit is the completion of any mandatory requirements by the first week of the semester that the unit is taken (In Place workplace compliance). This must be approved prior to commencement of the external capstone project. Students must withdraw from the unit where they do not have a verified compliance status as appropriate by the first week of the semester.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Hurdle requirement

In Place workplace compliance for externally placed students.


Assessment 1: 

Capstone proposal and reflection.  

This task will enable students to acquire knowledge informing the aims, activities and proposed outcomes of their project and their practice readiness including areas in which they require further preparation and training.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10

Assessment 2: 

Oral Presentation.  

This task will enable students to assimilate specialised knowledge of community engagement, the value of partnership, cultural competency and ethical practice 


LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10

Assessment 3: 

Portfolio and report.  

This task will enable students to apply public health knowledge in public health practice, by showcasing activities and project outcomes  


LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10

All assessments will be submitted electronically. 

Representative texts and references

Brophy, S., Snooks, H., & Griffiths, L. (2008). Small-Scale Evaluation in Health. London, UK : Sage [ACU ebook] 


Manley, K., Titchen, A., & Hardy, S. (2009). ‘Work-based learning in the context of contemporary 

health care education and practice: A concept analysis’, Practice Development in Health Care

8(2), pp. 87–127. 


Mann, K., Gordon, J., & MacLeod, A. (2009). ‘Reflection and reflective practice in health 

professionals education: A systematic review’, Advances in Health Science Education, 14, 

pp. 595–621. 


Smith, L.T. (2012). Decolonizing methodologies : research and Indigenous peoples Second edition. London; New York: Zed Books 

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