Master of Health Social Sciences

Course MC-HSS (2013)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2013.

This is a
New Generation course
, part of the
Melbourne Model
and is available from 2008
Year and Campus: 2013 - Parkville
Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Level: Graduate/Postgraduate
Duration & Credit Points: 200 credit points taken over 24 months full time. This course is available as full or part time.


Mr Paul Stewart


Centre for Health and Society
Melbourne School of Population Health
Tel: +61 3 8344 0808


Academic Programs Office
Melbourne School of Population Health
Tel: +61 3 8344 9339
Fax: +61 3 8344 0824

Course Overview:

The Master of Health Social Sciences (MHSocSc) is a social science coursework and research training degree with a focus on health and health care. It is a specialised Masters program which will provide you with an opportunity to develop social analysis skills from a range of social science disciplines, to understand how theory is applied to health in the social sciences, and to learn both the theory and the application of social research methods. As part of the degree, you will gain comprehensive research training and complete a supervised minor thesis on a relevant research project.

The MHSocSc will provide you with a rigorous grounding in social sciences research methods within the discipline of health social sciences. It also serves as a pathway to a research higher degree program. It is designed for health care professionals interested in broadening their knowledge and expertise to incorporate social sciences approaches as they apply to health. Social science graduates will benefit by expanding their expertise and applying it to the health field.

The health social sciences include a variety of disciplines including: sociology, anthropology, history, ethics, psychology, economics, social epidemiology and policy studies. Health Social Sciences refers to the application of these disciplinary perspectives to improve and better understand health. In the Master of Health Social Sciences we bring these disciplines together in the study of health and healthcare. People often think of health in clinical and biomedical terms. The health social sciences are ‘enabling disciplines’ that bridge medicine and society, the clinic and the community, translating medical knowledge into policy and social practice. They provide integrative knowledge for health and medicine, which seek to understand how social, economic, cultural, historical and ethical factors affect health and health care.


On completion of this course, students should:

  • have a sophisticated understanding of the conceptual approaches within the social study of health, illness and health care;
  • have knowledge of relevant social science theories and be able to apply them to health problems;
  • have the ability to critically evaluate and synthesise the relevant literature;
  • have developed skills analysing the contexts of health problems;
  • be able to apply the conceptual, theoretical and practical dimensions of the course in students' own professional practice;
  • be able to articulate knowledge and understanding of the area in oral and written form;
  • understand the principles and processes of social research design and ethics;
  • be able to identify research issues and formulate research questions;
  • have the capacity to design and conduct research at a Masters level under appropriate supervision;
  • understand the principles and practices of knowledge exchange;
  • have a respect for intellectual integrity, and for the ethics of research and scholarship.
Course Structure & Available Subjects:

200 Point Program: 12 coursework subjects and a 50 point Minor Thesis

150 Point Program: 8 coursework subjects and a Minor Thesis (50 Credit Points Advanced Standing)

Subject Options:

Core Subjects

Students must complete the following SEVEN core subjects:

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Not offered in 2013
Not offered in 2013
Not offered in 2013
Not offered in 2013
Not offered in 2013
Not offered in 2013


Students must complete FIVE of the following subjects;

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Semester 1
Not offered in 2013
Not offered in 2013
Not offered in 2013

Minor Thesis

The minor thesis is completed over two semesters (25 points per semester).

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Entry Requirements:

Completed any 3 year degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline;
Have proof of meeting the requirements for registration or temporary registration as a nurse by the Nurses Board of Victoria in Division 1, 3, or 4 of the Register;

  • AND at least 5 years documented relevant work or professional experience;
  • AND documentary evidence of competent academic or professional writing skills,

Equivalent professional qualification

  • AND at least 5 years documented relevant work or professional experience;
  • AND documentary evidence of competent academic or professional writing skills.

The Selection Committee may conduct interviews and tests and may call for referee
reports or employer references to elucidate any of the matters referred to above.

Applicants who have completed honours or a relevant social science or health related degree
may apply for advanced standing for up to 50 points of either core or elective subjects.

Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this course are articulated in the Course Description, Course Objectives and Generic Skills of this entry.
The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website.

Graduate Attributes:

Graduates from the Master of Health Social Sciences will have the following attributes:

Academically excellent:

  • be critical and creative thinkers in applied settings, with a commitment to continued self-directed learning and professional development
  • have a strong understanding of the relevance of social aspects of health, particularly as they relate to the workplace
  • have in-depth knowledge of the application of their discipline(s) in social sciences as it applies to population health
  • reach a high level of achievement in writing, generic research activities, problem-solving and communication to a peer reviewed standard
  • be adept at learning in a range of ways, including through information and communication technologies
  • have a strong sense of intellectual integrity and the ethics of scholarship

Knowledgeable across disciplines:

  • examine critically, synthesise, integrate and evaluate social sciences knowledge across a broad range of health related disciplines
  • expand their analytical and cognitive skills through learning experiences in diverse subjects
  • have the capacity to participate fully in collaborative learning and to confront unfamiliar problems within the health context
  • have a set of flexible and transferable skills for different types of career development in the health context

Leaders in communities, professions and workplace :

  • demonstrate leadership within their communities
  • have excellent interpersonal and decision-making skills, including an awareness of personal strengths and limitations
  • be a mentor for future generations of learners
  • engage in meaningful public discourse, with a profound awareness of community needs

Recognize and respond positively to cultural and social diversity:

  • accept social and community responsibilities
  • be advocates for improving the sustainability of the environment
  • have a broad global understanding, with a high regard for human rights, equity and ethics

Awareness of how research impacts on their environments

  • apply the principles and processes of social research design and ethics to broad health areas;
  • promote collectively agreed standards for the conduct of population health research
  • engage in high quality technical and ethical standards

Generic Skills:
  • Critical thinking and analysis
  • Initiative, autonomy and organisation
  • Problem-solving
  • Oral communication
  • Finding, evaluating and using relevant information
  • Written communication
  • Decision-making
  • Persuasion and argumentation
  • Using computers and presentation software

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