Mph Application and Approval Procedure

Mph Application and Approval Procedure

July 2012

Department of Public Health


There are two parallel processes involved in enrolling in the MPH programme. The first, for admission to the programme,is an internal Department process to assess your eligibilityand to approve the proposed topic of study for your dissertation or thesis. The second is the registration process with theUniversity. This involves registration, payment of fees and course approval. Both must be completed to successfully enrol in the programme.

The first step is to make sure that you are eligible for the programme once your final marks from the DPH programme are available. This is usually at the end of November for students completing at the end of semester 2, or at the end of June for students completing at the end of semester 1. Students who have completed the DPH programme and who have attained a good B grade average (overall 73% or better)for their four DPH papers are eligible to apply. At this stage students should explore possible dissertation/thesis topics informally with a potential supervisor/s. You may have identified a potential supervisor during your DPH studies, or if not you should approach either the Head of Department Richard Edwards, the DPH convenor Diana Sarfati, or Michael Keall, Postgraduate Academic Committee Chairperson for advice about possible supervisors in the Department. Please arrange a meeting with potential supervisors or Richard or Diana through Mary Anderson the Postgrad Administrator, or phone 918 6040. This should occur as soon as possible after receiving your marks, and preferably in the previous semester to the intended application.

  1. Departmental approval:

Students need to obtain Departmental approval to be admitted to the Masters programme. This includes approval of proposed research topic, research methods and supervision arrangements.This occurs at the Department of Public Health’s Postgraduate Academic meeting which is held once a month, usually on the first Friday of the month, except for the December meeting which will be at the end of the second week to allow for consideration of dissertation applications.

The requirements for the Departmental approval process are as follows:

A project outline should be prepared by the student (in consultation with potential supervisors wherever possible) – see below for more details. This should be about 1 page in length. In addition, the supervisor should prepare a Departmental Masters Programme application form (see attached).The application form, together with the project outline, should be sent to the PostgraduateAdministrator(Mary Anderson) who will ensure that this is considered at the next Academic Meeting (supervisor to attend if possible).

The project outline should include the following information (see attached form for suggested layout):

  • type of project: dissertation or thesis
  • a title which indicates the content of the project
  • supervisor/s & assurance that they will be available at the time you plan to do the work
  • background (1-2 paragraphs)
  • a clear statement of objectives and/or key research questions (as appropriate)
  • main methods/sources of information
  • any special requirements (ethical approvals, data access etc.) or costs (equipment, data, travel etc) and an indication of how these will be met

Following discussion at the Academic meeting the thesis or dissertation topic will either be approved or not. Where a thesis topic is approved, the DPH convenor will send the application with a covering letter to the Medical Faculty in Dunedin requesting approval for the student’s admission to the programme. Where a dissertationtopic is approved, the Head of the Department of Public Health will approve the dissertation topic (i.e. approval from the Medical Faculty is not required). Where a topic is not approved, the reasons will be conveyed to the supervisor(s) and revision invited. In some cases the Postgraduate Academic Committee may request further information or assurances e.g. about the nature of the research proposal or special requirements, prior to granting approval.


  1. The University registrationand enrolment process

(i)Students should register on-line at

(ii)Application for enrolment with the MPH can be submitted at any time in the year for a Masters by thesis, whilst applications for a Masters by dissertation [1] must be submitted by the end of the first week of December for a Semester One start in the next year or by the beginning of June for a Semester Two start in the same year.Applications should include a working title for a research topic, and a likely supervisor or co-supervisors who have given tentative agreement to act in this capacity

(iii)The final step in the University registration process is submission of a Course Approval Form. This will be sent to you once registration is completed. All three steps need to be completed before you are fully enrolled and admitted to the MPH programme. This form should be completed and sent to Trevor Williams (Post-graduate Student Liaison Officer, ). This form is then signed by the Head of Department and forwarded to the University. Once this and the letter from the department confirming departmental approval of your thesis or dissertation topic is received, youare fully enrolled.

(iv)Once registration has been processed, you will receive an invoice requesting payment of fees.

(v)Completion of all registration and enrolment steps including payment of fees will guarantee continued access to University resources.

Once a thesis or dissertation has been granted approval by the department (and also by the Faculty in the case of a thesis), a letter of acceptance to the MPH programme is sent to the student by the Head of Department of Public Health. Once all of the above steps have been completed the student is enrolled and can begin study on the Masters programme

  1. Completion timeframes:

Masters bydissertation and thesis have a fixed time framefor completion. The clock for completion of a Masters by dissertation + two papers starts from Semester One or Semester Two,whereas athesis starts from when the studentis admitted to the programme.

To complete the requirements of the degree there is a minimum of one yearfull-time or two years part-time and a maximum period of two years full-time or three years part-time of work.Full-time dissertation students will usually enrol for two papers plus dissertation in one year and part-time students will enrol for one year for two papers and enrol the following year for the dissertation. We recommend that dissertations undertaken by full time students should begin at the start of a semester and be due for submission within 2 weeks after the end of that same semester.

Masterthesis students must have been enrolled for a minimum of 12 months, or

the equivalent in part-time study, to submit their thesis. The 12 months or equivalent is from the students official start date and will be noted on their record on PIMS. Students must be

enrolled at the time of submission.

Thesis students need to be enrolled continuously until they submit the thesis (unless they apply for a temporary withdrawal – see next paragraph).

If you take time out and are not able to work on your dissertation or thesis for a period, (usually more than six weeks) you should seek a temporary withdrawal or you will be disadvantaged for the time allowance. Extensions beyond the maximum submission times must be negotiated by agreement of supervisors, the DPH/MPHConvenor and Head of Department, preferably in advance. An extension will probably involve additional fees.

  1. Registration and fees:

Thesis students can start and register at any time during the year. Thesis students need to be enrolled or deferred (temporary withdrawal) for the duration of their study and should re-enrol in December of each year for the next calendar year. Students must be enrolled in order to submit their thesis. For thesis students who registerpart way through the year, fees will be payable on a pro rata basis for that year. Students who submit part way through the year or semester can apply for a pro-rata fees refund.

Dissertation students’registrations take place in December for a Semester One start, and in June for a semester 2 start. If a dissertation student who has only registered for the first semester of the year wishes to add Semester Two to their course of study this should be done in June. This will require the payment of additional fees.

  1. Further enquiries:

For enquiries about options, and enrolment; please contact either the DPH/MPH course administrator: Mary Anderson: or phone 918 6040.


University of Otago, Wellington Post-graduate Student Liaison Officer, Trevor Williams: or phone 385 5541 ext.5543

A Handbook for Research Masters’ Degrees can be accessed on line. Go to:

Summary of Procedure






Suggested format:

Thesis or dissertation



Objectives/research question

Methods and sources of information

Approvals needed or any special requirements (costs/resources)




[Supervisor to complete]


Prospective Student:

Thesis or dissertation:

Proposed supervisors:

Proposed area of research (brief description or refer to attached document):

Specific suggested points for academic meeting discussion.

NB Please elaborate on any of the points below as necessary.

Is the student eligible and suitable to undertake a Masters thesis or dissertation? Are there any potential problems? Yes/No

Is the project one that is likely to yield a good thesis?Yes/No

Is the project of a scope which will allow it to be successfully completed in one year full time (thesis) or one semester (dissertation) [or part time equivalents] Yes/No

What facilities and other resources would be needed to meet the practical requirements of the proposed project? If so, are these available?

Is additional technical expertise or support likely to be required (e.g. statistical support) and is there evidence that this will be available? Yes/No

Will the project require fieldwork? If so, what are the likely demands of that fieldwork on the student? Are there any resource implications and how might these be met?

Will the project require approval from an ethics committee?Yes/No.

Can the student's proposed area of research interest be matched with expertise within the department? Yes/No

Would it be advisable for the student to have a supervisor and/or adviser from another department? Yes/No

Does the workload of the supervisors permit regular meetings and prompt attention to the work of the student? Yes/No.

Additional issues:



The University recognises the importance of providing appropriate resources for graduate research candidates to enhance the quality of their training. The purpose of these guidelines is to define appropriate resources in this context and to ensure that these resources can be made available before a graduate research candidate is accepted.

Policy Content

(a) Prior to either (a) accepting a graduate research candidate or (b) approving a major change of topic and/or methodology during candidature, the Department/School concerned should assess the feasibility of the proposed research project in terms of the resources likely to be required for the successful completion of the project.

(b) The acceptance of a graduate research candidate represents the Department’s/School’s commitment to support his/her research project by providing the following resources:

(i) access to appropriate resources to undertake the candidate’s research project (for example: equipment, materials, facilities, and funding for fieldwork or data collection or other activities considered essential to the successful completion of the project);

(ii) an appropriately equipped working and quiet study/writing space, including secure storage;

(iii) after-hours access to departmental facilities, provided both safety and security requirements are met;

(iv) access to appropriate computing resources;

(v) access to e-mail and appropriate internet communications;

(vi) access to library facilities including interloans and database searching;

(vii) access to a telephone when required for research enquiries. However, toll calls require permission from your supervisor; and

(viii) for doctoral candidates, support to present at one major international conference at least (each Division is required to establish a policy about the level of support), in addition to support from Departments and Divisions to attend other conferences where appropriate and feasible.

(c) Comments by doctoral candidates and their supervisors on the adequacy and level of support received shall be included in their annual progress reports.


1. The resources referred to in this policy do not include human resources such as supervisory knowledge and skills. These human resources are covered by separate regulations and policies.

2. The University encourages candidates and their supervisors to apply for funding from other sources to support appropriate aspects of their research projects. Irrespective of the funding source, however, Departments and Schools remain accountable for ensuring that (i) appropriate resources are provided and (ii) students are informed about where and how to access the resources.

3. Where circumstances beyond the direct control of the student, supervisor and Department/School necessitate an alteration of the research project’s cost structure, the Department/School is responsible for ensuring that the project continues to be appropriately resourced.

Dissertation Students

i) access to appropriate computing resources through the computer lab on Level C

ii) access to library facilities including interloans and database searching

[1] Note that the dissertation is worth 60 points and is equivalent to one semester of full-time work (approximately 600 hours of study) or the equivalent part time. The scope of the project must be in keeping with this.