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 and Community)

Health and Community sceneUC School of Health Sciences draw on their public health expertise to prepare graduates of the Health & Community major with the skills and knowledge to design and implement evidence-based health interventions in community settings. Increasingly, public health interventions target groups whose wellbeing is considered at-risk, such as young people (bullying), the elderly (avoiding falls at home), and Māori (smoking reduction). Some recent studies indicate that public health programmes targeted at the population or risk-group level may have moderate effectiveness, and may need strengthening. This appears particularly true for hapū and whānau (Cram et al, 2003).

The social model of health strongly identifies the contributions of communities and social networks to health and wellbeing. This major helps students understand how communities contribute to health and wellbeing to increase the effectiveness of health promotion. Fry and Zask (2016) describe the need to strengthen community action by “expanding the resources and capacity of communities to make decisions and take collective action” through networking, advocacy, programme development and building healthy public policy. Current and future workers within the fields of primary health, health promotion, public health and not-for-profit health organisations will benefit from this course of study.

The Master of Health Sciences (Health and Community) [MHealSc(Health and Community)] is a 240-point, research focused degree. This degree will appeal to those interested in developing research skills in the health sector. Student research examines a range of significant issues in health sciences with the aim of contributing to the evidence leading to improved health and well-being.

The Master of Health Sciences consists of two parts, usually completed within two years by full-time students. In Part 1, students follow the endorsed specialisation programme. Students will be asked to critically reflect, to link theory to policy and practice in their coursework during the first year (Part 1), and to develop a research question focused on Health and Community.

Following on from the coursework in Part 1, the thesis research (Part 2) is generally completed by an original investigation relevant to Health and Community, which may be conducted locally, within New Zealand, or overseas, with the support of supervisors specifically selected to support your topic. A full year of research is recommended although other options may be available in certain circumstances. 

This is a new area of specialisation.  However, a recent masters thesis which might have been explored within the context of Health and Community was completed by Megan Ryan: The Effects of the Christchurch Earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 on the Quality of Life of Children and Adolescents with Disabilities.

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.

You can start in either February (Semester 1) or July (Semester 2). This degree normally takes 4 semesters full time or 8 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 B to the Regulations for the Master of Health Sciences. Please check course availability.

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


Part 1
Semester 1

Part 1
Semester 2

Part 2
Year 2

Required courses
60 pts

HLTH463 Whanau and Community Health
(30 pts)

HLTH469 Health Issues in the Community
(30 pts)
Required course
120 pts
    HLTH690 MHealSc Thesis
(120 pts)
Research methods course or other approved alternative

HLTH460 Critical Appraisal in Health Research (30 pts)


60 pts from the schedule or GEOG401 or other approved courses including the approved research methods course

GEOG401 Well-Being, Community and Place
(30 pts)

HLTH402 Health Information Management 
(30 pts)

HLTH401 Health and Health Systems
(30 pts)

HLTH403 Environmental Health
(30 pts)


HLTH430 Motivating Behaviour Change I
(30 pts)

HLTH407 Bioethics
(30 pts)



HLTH409 Health and Culture
(30 pts)

  HLTH433 Bioethics A
(15 pts) (Term 3)
  HLTH434 Bioethics B
(15pts) Term 4)

HLTH467 Mental Health and Addictions
(30 pts)


HLTH468 Acute and Long Term Health Care
(30 pts)

  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)

In Part 1 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.

Part 2 may be completed part-time with prior approval.

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