module specification

SH7P42 - Public Health Dissertation (2020/21)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2020/21, 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
18 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
291 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
291 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   12,000-15,000 word dissertation:
Running in 2020/21

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Not applicable -
Summer studies North Not applicable -
Spring semester North Not applicable -

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. It is an integral part of the MSc award.

The dissertation builds upon the taught core modules of the MSc Public Health programme. Students are required to demonstrate a high level of autonomy and self-direction to integrate, synthesise, apply, and evaluate the knowledge and skills developed throughout the course. Students will conduct a research project by critically examining and applying the principles and practice of Public Health. This could include a systematic search and critical review of existing literature, existing data, or collection of primary data in answer to a public health issue. You will present the project in a style and quality appropriate to a research report. Students wishing to complete primary research must discuss this with the module leader as soon as possible, to ensure that the necessary ethical processes are completed, and permission granted within the time frame available. Students will need to identify gaps in knowledge or underlying problems and issues in public health from a social science perspective. The research proposal completed as part of module SH7008 Research Methods for Health and Social Care should form the basis for the dissertation project.

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
• Apply analytical and evaluation skills and knowledge to generate results drawing relevant conclusions and recommendations from evidence, with application within the context of public health

Prior learning requirements

80 credits from completion of the core modules of the MSc Public Health.


The dissertation is mainly self-directed; however, a series of online seminars is made available.

Online seminar support is provided in the following areas:
• An orientation to the dissertation project
• The supervision process
• Structuring the dissertation
• Writing the dissertation

In addition, students receive support from a designated supervisor for 12 weeks in the lead up to submission.


Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

There is no formal teaching but contact is organised through scheduled 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 12 of the semester in which the dissertation is registered as a module. The submission date will be published by the University and appears in the course handbook.


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.