module specification

SH7P42 - Public Health Dissertation (2019/20)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2019/20, but may be subject to modification
Module title Public Health Dissertation
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 60
School School of Social Professions
Total study hours 600
60 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
270 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
270 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   12,000-15,000 word dissertation:
Running in 2019/20
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Not applicable Not applicable
Summer studies North - Morning
Autumn semester North Not applicable Morning

Module summary

 The dissertation carries triple (60 credits) the weight of a normal module (20 credits) and is designed to give students an opportunity to undertake a substantive independent piece of research on a specific public health issue, policy or practice. It is an integral part of the Masters award.

The dissertation builds upon the taught core modules of the programme. Students are required to demonstrate a high level of autonomy and self-direction to integrate, synthesise, apply, and evaluate knowledge and skills developed in both core and optional modules of the course by employing a secondary analysis of existing data, a systematic search and narrative review of the literature, or the collection of primary data. Students wishing to complete primary research must discuss this with the module leader as soon as possible, to ensure that the necessary ethical process are completed, and permission granted within the time frame available.

The dissertation module provides students with an opportunity to reflect critically on their own research question in relation to the learning outcomes. Students will need to identify gaps in knowledge or underlying problems and issues in public health, within a contextual approach of social science, and undertake research to develop an understanding and appraisal of interventions, strategies, policy and practice required to protect or improve population health, or improve health and social services.

The Public Health Dissertation aims to: -

• Integrate the skills and knowledge underpinning the core modules on the Public Health course and focus these on a specific public health research question
• Apply appropriate skills of analysis and knowledge of research methodologies
• Develop competence in producing evidence in relation to an argued case using appropriate research methods
• Test ability to plan, organise and write a sustained piece of work
• Provide an opportunity for autonomy and critical reflection on a public health research topic / question,  and self-reflection of learning
• Apply analytical and evaluation skills and knowledge to generate results and draw relevant conclusions regarding the outcomes of a research project
• Provide skills for drawing recommendations from evidence, with application within the context of public health

Prior learning requirements

SH7XXX –Research Methods in Health and Social Care, and at lease 60 credits.

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

There is no formal teaching but contact is organised through scheduled dissertation workshops, online seminars, online chat groups, and meetings with a designated supervisor.

This triple-module dissertation requires students to demonstrate a high degree of autonomy and responsibility in the planning and execution of this substantive work. Additional learning resources are available online on the WebLearn site for this module.

Learning outcomes

 On completion of this triple module students will be able to:

1. Execute autonomously a substantive social science based piece of research to address a public health issue
2. Select, synthesise and apply appropriate social science theories, methodologies, techniques and ethical principles to inform their own inquiry
3. Demonstrate sound knowledge and understanding of the various factors influencing population health outcomes, healthcare systems and services and their contexts
4. Demonstrate independent judgement to review population health and evidence informed by ethical codes of practice, social inclusion and human rights
5. Interpret evidence systematically to make sound judgements
6. Communicate key issues, arguments, findings and conclusions clearly in a style that conforms to academic conventions.

Assessment strategy

The module will be assessed by a 12,000 -15,000 word dissertation excluding acknowledgements, abstract, table of contents, references and appendices, to be submitted in Week 13 of the semester following receipt of the formal dissertation workshop / online lecture support. The submission date will be published by the University.


 Core texts:
Aveyard, H., Sharp, P. (2013). A beginners guide to evidence-based practice. Berkshire: McGraw-Hill

Aveyard, H. (2014). Doing a literature review in health and social care. (3rd edition). Berkshire: McGraw-Hill

Aveyard, H. (2011). A beginner’s guide to critical thinking and writing in health and social care. Berkshire: McGraw-Hill

Bowling, A. (2014). Research methods in health. Investigating health and health services. (4th edition). Berkshire: McGraw Hill

Green, B. N., Johnson, C. D., & Adams, A. (2006). Writing narrative literature reviews for peer-reviewed journals: secrets of the trade. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 5(3), 101–117.

Browne, N and Keeley, S (2015) Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking. (11th edition) London: Prentice-Hall,

Biggam, J. (2015). Succeed in your Masters dissertation. A step by step guide. Berkshire: McGraw Hill

Hart, Chris (2005) Doing Your Masters Dissertation: Realizing Your Potential as a Social Scientist. London: Sage.