MPH Public Health (Web-based Learning)
Year of entry: 2024
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Course unit details:
Dissertation - Master of Public Health
|Unit level||FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree|
|Teaching period(s)||Full year|
|Available as a free choice unit?||No|
The MPH dissertation is an opportunity for students to focus on a public health problem in which they have a particular interest. Students can then deepen their understanding and enhance their skills in interpreting existing evidence, alongside that which they generate themselves, as part of a research process. Students are guided in their development across the academic year, by an academic supervisor. This provides opportunities for students to benefit from more experienced academics, many of whom are working and researching public health questions themselves at a local and international level.
The MPH dissertation offers a number of frameworks within which students develop their research question and subsequent methodology. These reflect the public health competencies and more importantly, the work that many public health professionals are required to do. The dissertation frameworks include options to carry out primary research (collecting new data) from a new or established research project, or with more desk-based research, ranging from an adapted systematic review, analysing existing data sets, or developing an academic public health report or grant proposal. All of these options are equally relevant to students wanting to apply quantitative, qualitative or ‘mixed methods’ methodologies, to construct their dissertation. As part of the MPH dissertation, there is the possibility for students to join an external partnership (such as a local authority, or health care provider) to use their dissertation to help address a particular need for that organisation. These partnerships are subject to availability, but an increasing number now exist.
Students are able to use their own public health interests and questions, as a focus for their dissertation. These ideas often arise as students work through their taught units, and taking any combination of units will further support students with their dissertation. Students have up to a full academic year to develop and submit their completed dissertation. Full time students will start working on their dissertation alongside their taught units, 2 year part-time students will be able to enrol on the dissertation at the start of their second year and 3-5 year part-time students would normally complete the required eight taught units before enrolling on the dissertation. There are five dates across the academic year for students to register their proposed dissertation title, following which they will be linked with an academic supervisor.
To develop knowledge, critical appraisal and applied skills to use a research framework to fully understand and answer a defined public health question.
|Category of outcome||Students should be able to:|
|A. Knowledge and understanding||A1 Describe in detail a specific context, setting and/or problem and establish a coherent research-related question that forms the foundation of the written dissertation report/manuscript.|
|B. Intellectual skills||B1 Construct a meaningful synthesis and critical interpretation of existing and new information, obtained as part of the dissertation process|
|C. Practical skills|| |
C1 Apply appropriate methodology to obtain the data or information necessary to address the research question.
C2 Use a justified methodology to analyse the data and/or information collected.
|D. Transferable skills and personal qualities||D1 Demonstrate the ability to be a reflective and self-directed learner, to accomplish a substantial piece of academic work.|
Students have up to a full academic year to develop and submit their completed dissertation. Students have the opportunity to design their overall dissertation based on a number of different research frameworks that match the public health competencies and more importantly, the work that many public health professionals will be required to do as part of their career. The dissertation frameworks include primary research (collecting new data) from a new or established research project, compared with more desk-based research, ranging from an adapted systematic review, analysing existing data sets, or developing an academic public health report or grant proposal. All of these options are equally relevant to students wanting to apply quantitative, qualitative or ‘mixed methods’ methodologies, to construct their dissertation. There is also the possibility for students to join an external partnership (subject to availability), which can provide alternative applied research opportunities. Students selecting to do a primary research project are strongly encouraged to start the process early so that they have time to complete any required research ethics and permissions, before the research can be carried out. The student’s supervisor along with resources provided by the MPH team and the University will support this work.
Teaching and learning methods
Students are supported throughout the dissertation unit by a dedicated supervisor along with a range of learning resources from the MPH and University. This includes taking part in a number of webinars and tutorials, focused on aspects of the dissertation unit. Furthermore, students will have access to examples of dissertations completed by previous students, which were awarded a Distinction. These are especially helpful for students who have not seen this type of academic work. Another key feature of the dissertation is that it provides an environment within which students can develop their self-directed academic skills and application, knowing that a supervisor is on hand to guide them in the right direction.
- Analytical skills
- Group/team working
- Project management
- Oral communication
- Problem solving
- Written communication
|Assessment Task||Length||Weighting within unit|
Over the period of study, students will receive feedback and suggestions as part of their supervision. Formal feedback will be given once the final mark has been approved through the University processes. The feedback will be from the first marker (the supervisor) and an assigned second marker. It will include marks allocated to different learning objectives, as on the marking template in the dissertation handbook/resources, and general feedback about the style and presentation.
Students are guided to the My Learning Essentials offered through the University Library. These online resources include topics such as literature searching, writing skills, and others of relevance to the generic skills across a dissertation.
|Independent study hours|
|Andrew Jones||Unit coordinator|
|Roger Harrison||Unit coordinator|
If you have any questions about the content of this unit, please contact one of the course unit leaders, Roger Harrison (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Andrew Jones (email@example.com). If you have any other queries, please contact the PGT programme administrators via email on firstname.lastname@example.org.