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Master thesis, 30 credits, 30 Credits

Swedish name: Masteruppsats, 30 högskolepoäng

This syllabus is valid: 2008-09-01 and until further notice

Course code: 3FH053

Credit points: 30

Education level: Second cycle

Main Field of Study and progress level: Public Health: Second cycle, contains degree project for Master of Arts/Master of Science (120 credits)

Grading scale: VG Pass with distinction, G Pass, U Fail

Established by: Programme council for the International Master Programme in Public Health (PRPH), 2016-08-22


The purpose is for the student to produce an independent scientific work. During the course, students will demonstrate their ability to independently plan, carry out and present (orally and written) their research on a public health related topic. This involves formulating a research problem and objectives, selecting appropriate methods, collecting and analyzing data, and presenting and discussing results in relation to scientific articles and other relevant literature. This course provides the opportunity to apply knowledge and proficiencies acquired during the other courses in the master programme of public health. The course includes a final seminar where the thesis is presented and discussed.

The master thesis can take one of three forms: a systematic literature review, a study protocol or an empirical study.

Expected learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding
After this course the student is expected to
  • demonstrate substantially developed knowledge in a specified area of public health related to the master thesis objectives and developed insight into current research within the chosen area of research.
  • demonstrate developed methodological knowledge in relation to the method(s) chosen for thesis work and an ability to assess strengths and limitations of the chosen method(s). 
Skills and abilities
After this course the student is expected to
  • identify and formulate a well-defined research question(s) within the field of public health.
  • plan and justify a study in accordance with established research methods and ethical guidelines.
  • identify, critically evaluate, integrate and present previous scientific studies relevant to the research question(s).
  • explain how the master thesis contributes to the development of new knowledge and to evaluate this work. 
  • process research material and draw conclusions in accordance with established research methods and ethical guidelines. 
  • present and discuss ones research findings relating to the research question(s).
  • independently produce a thesis within a given time frame and in accordance with established standards for language and format.
  • critically review and discuss another student’s thesis 
Judgment and approach
After this course the student is expected to
  • demonstrate a developed ability to assess public health research with regard to scientific, societal and ethical aspects.
  • demonstrate a developed awareness of ethical aspects regarding research and development work.

Required Knowledge

To be admitted to the course the applicant must have completed at least 30 credits in the main field of Public Health, advanced level.

English proficiency equivalent to English B/6 from Swedish Upper secondary education. Basic entrance requirements for higher studies in Swedish language proficiency is also required if the course is tauhgt in Swedish.

Form of instruction

Thesis work is introduced during the fall semester. The student is given the opportunity to discuss the choice of topic for the thesis with teachers and fellow students. A supervisor for the student is also appointed at the end of the fall semester/in the beginning of the spring semester. In the main, thesis work is done during the spring semesters of the two years. This starts with the introductory module of the master thesis course in the first year. Attendance at this module is compulsory. At the end of the spring semester of the second year, the thesis is presented at a seminar where another student acts as a discussant. The student also acts as a discussant for another student’s thesis presented in the same way. Attendance on a specific number of master thesis seminars is compulsory.

Examination modes

The examination has five parts: a) a written master thesis plan, b) a written master thesis, c) attendance in compulsory lectures and seminars, d) an oral presentation and defense of a master thesis, e) an oral discussion of another student’s master thesis. The following alternatives exist for the grading: Pass with distinction, Pass, Fail. A failing grade is given for theses that are (i) not submitted in time for the seminar (ii) that have been presented and defended at a seminar but where the thesis still is not meeting the criteria for a passing degree. Thus, all students receive a grade on the thesis course.
For a student receiving the grade Fail because she/he did not submit the thesis in time to have a seminar, the next opportunity to have a seminar is in the following semester. Thesis seminars are held in later part of each spring semester and in the earlier part of each fall semester. A student is allowed to re-register on the thesis course one time and thereby receive more supervision (see below). For a student who receives the grade Fail but having had a seminar, the university’s rules for examination on courses apply in the following way. The student is during the academic year entitled to two re-sit exams. For the thesis course this means that the student can turn in another two revised versions of the thesis and have them assessed by the examiner. However, during this period the student is not entitled to supervision. If a student does not manage to receive a passing degree having, as described above, turned in up to three revised versions of the theses, the student is allowed to re-register for the thesis course in the following semester and have a new supervisor appointed. The same rules apply for this process as for the first thesis course that the student took. If the student does not pass the thesis course in this second attempt, the student is not allowed to any further re-registering on thesis courses.

Other regulations

Start-of-study respite
A respite for the start of studies may be granted under special circumstances. Examples of such circumstances are illness, military service, pregnancy, care of children or other nursing responsibilities etc.
A negative decision about start-of-study respite may be appealed to Överklagandenämnden för högskolan.

Course roll call
Attendance is compulsory for the course roll call. A student may be relieved from this obligation only through a decision by the course coordinator and only under special circumstances. Non-attendance without a valid reason may lead to the seat being given to another applicant. A decision about this is made by the course coordinator.

Students have the right to examine whether previous education or equivalent knowledge and skills acquired can be credited for the corresponding course at Umeå University. Application is submitted to Studentcentrum/Examina. Details on crediting can be found at Umeå University's student web, , and the Higher Education Ordinance (Chapter 6) . A refusal of accreditation may be appealed against (Higher Education Ordinance Chapter 12 ) to the University Appeals Board. This applies to the whole or part of the application for accreditation is refused.


The literature list is not available through the web. Please contact the faculty.