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Master of Primary Health Care (MPHC)

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The Master of Primary Health Care (MPHC) degree is is a nationally-recognised multidisciplinary advanced qualification for health professionals engaged in the delivery of primary health care. It provides an appropriate advanced multidisciplinary qualification for students who have completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Primary Health Care (PGDipPHC).

A Master's research thesis or Master's portfolio programme can be designed and completed on a topic chosen by the student in consultation with a supervisory team. There are a total of three different ways of completing this 120 point degree:

  1. Solely by thesis - students must have already completed an approved 30 point research methods paper
  2. Solely by portfolio - students must have already completed an approved 30 point research methods paper
  3. By submitting a shorter (90 point) portfolio and completing an approved 30 point research methods paper

Graduates will have specific skills to enable them to deliver, and if appropriate, to practise safe, effective, and culturally sensitive primary health care. As the students will come from differing backgrounds ( for example, medical, nursing, pharmacy, physiotherapy, management) these skills may be oriented towards management, clinical practice, basic primary care research or a combination of these.

As a consequence of the multidisciplinary nature of the programme, the graduate will gain an advanced appreciation of team dynamics in the primary health care setting. The team approach, now so essential to professional practitioners in primary health care, will be fostered and confirmed.

The graduate will have an advanced understanding of the nature and practice of primary health care, advanced training in personally selected areas of practice, and experience in working with other health professionals involved in primary health care. In addition, the graduate will have the ability and skills to independently set up and carry out relevant research within the primary health care field, and to be able to contribute significantly to new knowledge and/or developments in health care delivery.

These graduates will provide an educated resource for future primary health planning and education.

The Master of Primary Health Care (MPHC) is also available through Distance Learning.


Postgraduate Coordinator
Department of Primary Health Care and General Practice
University of Otago, Wellington
Tel 04 918 5626
Website Postgraduate Programmes at the Department of Primary Health Care and General Practice

Regulations for the Degree of Master of Primary Health Care (MPHC)

  1. Admission to the Programme

    1. Admission to the programme shall be subject to the approval of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences).
    2. Every applicant shall        
      1. hold the Postgraduate Diploma in Primary Health Care, or
      2. hold an equivalent qualification approved by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences), and
      3. have completed the prerequisite papers:            
        • PRHC 701 New Zealand Primary Health Care or PRHC 703 Strategy and Leadership in Primary Health Care (30 points);
          and either
        • HASC 417 Health Sciences Research Methods
          or equivalent research paper(s) approved by the Board of Studies in Primary Health Care.
    3. In exceptional circumstances the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences) may approve an exemption from the specified prerequisites.

  2. Structure of the Programme

    1. The programme of study shall consist of one of the following:        
      1. a thesis on an approved topic (120 points); or
      2. a research portfolio (120 points); or
      3. a research portfolio (90 points) plus approved research methods papers(s) worth 30 points.
    2. A candidate may not present a thesis or research portfolio which has previously been accepted, in whole or in part, for another degree.
    3. The programme of study including as appropriate, the topic of the thesis or research portfolio and the supervisors of the research, or the component papers shall be approved by the Programme Academic Co-ordinator.
    4. For the thesis, the research should be of a kind that a diligent and competent student should complete within one year of full-time study.

  3. Duration of the Programme

    The degree will normally be completed on a part-time basis. The degree shall normally require not less than two years of part-time study (or one year of full-time study) and not more than four years of part-time study (or two years of full-time study). Exceptions shall be permitted only with the approval of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences).

  4. Examination of the Thesis or Portfolio

    1. The thesis or portfolio shall be assessed by at least two examiners, at least one of whom shall be external to the University.
    2. The candidate's supervisor shall not be an examiner but may make a report on the work of the candidate to the Convener of Examiners.
    3. Each examiner shall supply a written report on the thesis or portfolio and recommend a mark and grade on the basis of the work as submitted, and an overall result selected from the options specified in clause (d) below.
    4. The examiners may recommend that a thesis or portfolio:        
      1. be accepted without requiring amendments;
      2. be accepted subject to minor corrections made at the discretion and to the satisfaction of the Convener of Examiners;
      3. does not meet the criteria for the award of the degree, but may be revised and resubmitted for examination;
      4. does not meet the criteria for the award of the degree, and should be rejected without right of resubmission.
    5. Amendments (regulation 4(d)(ii)) and revisions (regulation 4(d)(iii)) shall be completed by a specified date to be determined by the Convener of Examiners.
    6. A candidate shall be permitted to revise and resubmit a thesis or portfolio for examination once only.
    7. If a revised and resubmitted thesis or portfolio is finally accepted, the result shall be either Pass or Fail (i.e. ungraded) and without eligibility for the award of the degree with distinction or credit.
    8. Where examiners cannot agree on a result, the Convener of Examiners should so report to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences) or nominee who shall arrive at a decision after consulting a referee who should normally be external to the University.

  5. Level of Award of the Degree

    The degree may be awarded with distinction or with credit.

  6. Variations

    The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences) may in exceptional circumstances approve a course of study which does not comply with these regulations.

This information must be read subject to the statement on our Copyright & Disclaimer page.

Regulations on this page are taken from the 2024 Calendar and supplementary material.

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