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

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Master of Health Sciences (Palliative Care)

Palliative CarePalliative care has emerged as a speciality that incorporates inter professional health care provision for people who are living with and dying from active, progressive diseases or conditions that are not responsive to curative treatment. Palliative care embraces the physical, social, emotional and spiritual elements of well being (tinana, whanau, hinengaro and wairua) and embraces a person’s quality of life while they are dying. This field involves people throughout the life span from children through to the elderly and continues on to support the bereaved family/whanau.

The Master of Health Sciences (Palliative Care) [MHealSc(Palliative Care)] 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 Palliative Care.

 In addition to the coursework in Part 1, this degree prepares you with the foundations of research experience in Palliative Care. The thesis research (Part 2) is generally completed by identifying a question, often identified from your practice setting, undertaking interviews and emerging with new insights and understandings to improve practice for end of life care for our community. You will be supported by supervisors specifically selected to support your topic. Your research may be completed part time or full time.  

A recent masters thesis was completed by Denise van Aalst: The important thing is: Patient and family voice in palliative care.

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 4 semesters full time or 8 semesters part time. 

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.

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


Part 1
Semester 1

Part 1
Semester 2

Part 2
Year 2

Required courses
210 pts

HLTH448 The Foundation of Palliative Care
(30 pts)

HLTH450 Palliative Care: Advanced Theory and Practice
(30 pts)
HLTH690 MHealSc Thesis
(120 pts)

HLTH449 Praxis in Hospice Palliative Care
(30 pts)
30 pts from the schedule
(Normally one per semester)
HLTH464 Research Approaches for Health
(30 pts)
(meets the research methods requirements)

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.