spring 2021
HEL-3950 Master's Thesis in Public Health - 30 ECTS

Last changed 09.02.2021

Type of course

This course is open to programme students at Master Public Health only.

Course overlap

HEL-3950 Master's Thesis in Public Health 30 stp

Course content

The master thesis (30 ECTS) is the final steps leading to your graduate degree, and demonstrates the student's ability to explore, develop, and organize materials relating to a certain topic or problem in a field of study. Your manuscript is a scholarly presentation of the results of the research you conducted. This workload is normally distributed over two or several semesters. It is important to work systematically and utilize the given time properly.

The thesis is to be carried out as a research project. It can either be:

- an empiric study based on an existing data set within a chosen field of interest

- collected new data within a chosen field of interest

- a discussion of a problem based on systematic review of relevant literature

- quantitative or qualitative, dependent on the students documented level of adequate formal qualifications in the different methods and specific agreement between student and supervisor. 

During this course, the student will take part in mandatory seminars on thesis writing covering topics such as how to find a topic and a supervisor, how to outline the structure, how to best use the library, and how to engage in the writing process. A supervisor will be made available to each student. The substantive portion of your thesis should be no more than 30-60 pages (i.e. introduction, all chapters, conclusion and references). Footnotes are included in the 30-60 pages. Not included are preface, table of content, acknowledgements, and appendices.

The thesis is an independent work, and the topic is of the students own choice within the field of the programme. The student must have completed and passed all other courses in the programme (90 ECTS) before the thesis can be handed in.

Objectives of the course

The master thesis is a mandatory part of the Master Programme of Public Health, it is mandatory to prepare the thesis under supervision from an appointed supervisor, and to attend the master thesis seminars.

Through the thesis, the student needs to demonstrate that he/she masters relevant methods that have been demonstrated during the programme, the ability to work independently, demonstrate insight, reflection and maturity within the given field of study.

The student should -

Knowledge and understanding:

  • be able to demonstrate a critical attitude to research ethics and copyright requirements
  • be able to do an autonomous in depth study on a defined topic, using relevant scientific theories   and methods from earlier courses in the programme
  • be able to demonstrate a critical attitude to the source material and literature


  • be able to demonstrate the ability to formulate precise research questions and conduct a research project
  • be able to defend the choice of theory, method, conclusions and recommendations 
  • relate to existing research

General Competence

  • know the basics of scientific writing
  • be able to develop research questions
  • be able to formulate hypotheses

Language of instruction


Teaching methods

Individual academic supervision during the fourth semester is mandatory for all students. The Department of Community Medicine arranges three obligatory, collective half-day seminars.  

First semester: Seminar on thesis Topics: The students get an introduction about important milestones in the work towards a complete master thesis, and about further available general information in the online learning management system. There will be given a thorough review on available databases for empiric study at ISM, such as the Tromsø Study, The Norwegian Women and Cancer study, NOWAC, The Fit Future Study and more. Another important topic is how to perform good literature searches, use of references, rules for research ethics, and necessary applications for different permissions and approvals. The students will be challenged to develop an idea for their master thesis topic and a candidate to supervise their work.

Second semester: Seminar on Supervision and Project description Most students will at this point in time have an idea for their master thesis topic and a potential supervisor of their choice, due to their personal preferences and interests. It might be a challenge to find someone perfect for your selected topic, and it is of utmost importance to start looking for a supervisor early. Attention is drawn to the fact that not all topics/supervisor-requests can be fulfilled. Students without a scientific plan will be offered a pre-developed master project, and introduced to the supervisor who planned the project and will supervise throughout the project period. This will preferably happen within the end of the second semester/beginning of the third semester. It is important to identify theoretical as well as a practical knowledge gaps early in the research process in order to make sure that the master thesis has a potential to make a contribution. One part of the seminar will be devoted to discussing former students experience while writing their master thesis. A further introduction is given about general formalities, the extent and format of the master thesis. Most time will be attributed to the Contract of Supervision and the Project Description. These two documents should be submitted to the Program Coordinator for Master of Public Health by the end of 2nd semester (June 2nd) and end of 3rd semester (December 1st), respectively. The Contract of Supervision should be developed together with the supervisor and is a mandatory assignment to be permitted to finalize the master thesis. The Contract of Supervision (1-3 p) should reveal: -Name of supervisor, title and work affiliation -Overview of the necessary permissions -Short project summary -Time schedule -Budget

Third semester: Seminar on Project description and finalizing the Thesis  The Project Description should be developed together with the supervisor and is a mandatory assignment to be permitted to finalize the master thesis. The Project Description (4-6 p) should reveal: -Introduction  -The topic or the central research question (hypotheses or research questions) -The literature from which the topic or research question is drawn -Depending on the discipline, a main aim, a thesis statement, or a working hypothesis  -Where relevant, the strategies and instruments used for data collection and analysis  -The strategies and instruments used for analysis -Ethical aspects -Time schedule -Budget -Bibliography or list of references It is the supervisor's responsibility to make sure that the project is sent for necessary assessment by REK or to the Privacy Ombudsman (NSD). One part of the seminar will be devoted to discussing present students experience while developing their project and writing their project description. One part will be devoted to discussing mistakes, deteriorations, and other conditions that may destroy an otherwise good thesis, observed from previous master thesis.

  In the fourth semester, students will finish up the work on the master thesis.

The Department of Community Medicine may alter the topics and content of the master thesis seminars if specific issues towards the learning outcome or thesis progress of the students are identified.

Assessment Scope The thesis has a workload equivalent to 30 ECTS. The length of the thesis will depend on the topic and form, but should normally be between 30 and 60 pages, including references and notes. Two students may collaborate on a task, but it must be applied for in advance. Students must describe each individual's effort, and length of such a task should be 80 to 100 pages. Scripture should have font size 12, spacing 2. The first page shall state the title, student name, supervisor's name, time and place, Master Public Health, Department of Community Medicine, UiT the Arctic University of Norway.

The thesis should follow the outline that applies to the articles to  EPIDEMIOLOGY - http://edmgr.ovid.com/epid/accounts/ifauth.htm

Accident Analysis & Prevention - https://www.elsevier.com/journals/accident-analysis-and-prevention/0001-4575/guide-for-authors#68000

Other academic forms of presentation can also be used in consultation with the supervisor. Instructions for how to use respectively the Harvard style and the Vancouver style can be found in the online learning management system. The thesis can be written in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English. If a non-English language is used, the thesis must contain a 1-2 page summary in English.  

Submission In order to hand in the thesis, all other courses at the Master's program must be completed. The submission deadline each year is May 31st. If some prolongation is necessary, the student may apply to the Program board of the Master Programme of Public Health. Thesis is submitted electronically via MUNIN as a .pdf file


The thesis is assessed by an external and an internal examiner (examination committee). The thesis will be graded from A to E, or fail (F). Deadline for grading the thesis is 3 weeks from the hand-in deadline, as set by the exam regulations at UiT. An additional two days may be added on administrative grounds. The student's supervisor cannot be an internal examiner. It is adopted by the University Board (21.06.2007, case S25/07) that examination committee may have a short conversation with the supervisor before the assessment meeting. If necessary, the examining committee will ask the supervisor to provide a written explanation of the counselling process.


Mandatory work requirement: Hand-in a project description with emphasis on research question, material and methods, permissions and ethical perspectives.

The final exam of this course consists of handing in the master's thesis. The grade given is solely based on the examiners assessment of the handed in thesis.

The thesis will be graded from A to E, or fail (F).

Students who fail (F) the thesis may re-submit the following semester. Students with valid absence at the time of the deadline will give access to submit the following semester.

The student may ask for explanation about the awarding of grades within three weeks after the announcement of the grade for the thesis. A candidate may file a written complaint about a grade awarded for his/her own performances. Complaints about the awarding of grades shall be submitted within three weeks of the announcement of the examination results (or within three weeks after receiving an explanation of the awarding of grades).


  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 30
  • Course code: HEL-3950