Health Sciences - College of Education, Health and Human Development - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

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Master of Health Sciences Professional Practice (Health Behaviour Change)

Health Behaviour Change sceneBehaviours which maybe injurious to health are widespread in our society – smoking, hazardous drinking, inadequate diet, lack of exercise - and many chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, require lifestyle behaviour change as part of their management.  Changing such behaviours can be difficult, requiring time and considerable effort and motivation. Motivational interviewing (MI) is a collaborative conversation style for strengthening a person’s own motivation and commitment for change.  Research shows that with appropriate training, MI may be used by various health workers to facilitate change of addictive and unhealthy behaviours. The health behaviour change programme has the potential to strengthen significantly the health workforce skill base needed to address several objectives of the New Zealand Health and Disability strategies.

The Master of Health Sciences Professional Practice (Health Behaviour Change) [MHealSc(Health Behaviour Change)] is a 180-point, practice focused degree. This degree will appeal to those interested in developing practice skills relevant to working in the health sector. In addition to the courses required for the endorsement at the PGDip level, the Masters of Professional Practice (Health Behaviour Change) incudes HLTH463 Whanau and Community Health and HLTH464 Research Approaches for Health which gives you additional depth for your practice.

If you are a current health practitioner in New Zealand you may be entitled to Health Workforce NZ Funding. Please contact your local DHB for application details.

This specialist endorsement starts in February (Semester 1). This degree normally takes 3 semesters full time or 6 semesters part time. 

For specific information about courses, when you get to the general course page, please click on the red link for the course occurrence.

The table below is a suggested pathway for this programme. Please note there are further optional courses available from Schedule C: All courses for the Degree of Master of Health Sciences Professional Practice. Please check course availability.

Part-time students please check with a student advisor before enrolling.


Semester 1, Year 1

Semester 2, Year 1

Semester 1, Year 2

Required courses
120 pts
HLTH430 Motivating Behaviour Change I
(30 pts)
HLTH431 Motivating Behaviour Change 2
(30 pts)

HLTH463 Whanau and Community Health
(30 pts)


  HLTH464 Research Approaches for Health
(30 pts)
60 pts from the schedule or other approved courses
(Normally one per semester)

HLTH401 Health and Health Systems
(30 pts)

HLTH402 Health Information Management 
(30 pts)

HLTH460 Critical Appraisal in Health Research
(30 pts)

HLTH403 Environmental Health
(30 pts)


HLTH407 Bioethics
(30 pts)



HLTH409 Health and Culture
(30 pts)


HLTH467 Mental Health and Addictions
(30 pts)


HLTH468 Acute and Long Term Health Care
(30 pts)


HLTH469 Health Issues in the Community

  HLTH472 Quantitative Methods in Health Research (Introductions to Psychometric Theory and Administration)
(15 pts)
  HLTH408 (C) Qualitative Health Methodologies (Special Topic: Independent Study)
(15 pts)

Part-time students would usually complete one or two courses per semester to total 30 points.

Full-time students would usually complete two to four courses per semester to total 60 points.

Please refer to individual course webpages for further details regarding course dates, workshops and other attendance requirements.