Introduction to Public Health Research

Course Number
5000 (DLSPH Core courses)
Course Syllabus
View Syllabus
Course Instructor(s)
Xiaolin Wei

Course Description

The objective of this course is to provide an introduction to public health sciences and public health research, with an emphasis on cutting-edge research being done by faculty and doctoral students at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. Incoming doctoral students across all fields of study in the DLSPH Divisions will have the opportunity to learn about the faculty’s and more senior doctoral students’ current research as well as ongoing projects. Reaching students before and as they focus on the specific skills and knowledge base in their chosen discipline, the course will introduce students to critical thinking within different disciplines as well as aid in developing a common understanding of the diversity of public health issues across approaches. The weekly research seminar also highlights varied research opportunities within DLSPH, as well as key interdisciplinary professional development skills.

Course objectives

  1. Provide a comprehensive overview of public health history, accomplishments, and practices;
  2. Review different disciplinary perspectives on diverse public health issues embedded in the context of the historical, social, political, etc. causes of disease, disability and wellness;
  3. Facilitate critical thinking and collaborative interdisciplinary problem-solving;
  4. Develop the practical skills required for developing a research proposal;
  5. Offer exposure to the variety of DLSPH faculty and students, programs, research projects, and provide examples of future career possibilities in public health;
  6. Offer students a greater understanding of the scope and interconnections of current Public Health issues.
  7. Create a learning experience that is informative and engaging through the use of interactive technology, student involvement, and the selection of passionate speakers.

At the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify the complex nature of public health problems;
  • Understand the context driving specific public health approaches
  • Have a basic understanding of public health history, methods, ethics, and practices;
  • Understand the basic language and orientation of each represented public health discipline and research methodology;
  • Demonstrate critical thinking through the ability to engage in multi-disciplinary discussions and analyses;
  • Apply professional development skills;
  • Develop a draft sample research funding proposal for future research/dissertation work;
  • Use current technology to communicate effectively;
  • Communicate effectively an interdisciplinary perspective of public health sciences.


This is a credit/no credit course. All assignments must be completed.  

  1. Completion of online certificate – Tri council (10%)

Deadline:  Must be completed by September 7, 2018– BEFORE the course lectures start. The certificate of completion must be submitted to Querus by 11:59pm on September 7, 2018.

Completion of CV for Canadian Common CV (35%)

Deadline:  Must be completed online and have a PDF copy submitted to Querus by 11:59pm on October 5, 2018.

  1. Research Project (45%)

Project Summary (45%)

  • The research project summary should be written in general scientific language, which is an important skill to acquire for future success in the research         environment as applications are being reviewed by multi-disciplinary committees.
  • The research project summary is among the most important parts of a fellowship             application. The summary should provide a concise account of the subject        matter, an overview of each part of the research plan, specific project aims and    the methodology. The summary should reflect the significance of the project.
  • Maximum 3500 characters (including spaces), including references (references    can be in a smaller legible font).

Deadline: November 2, 2018, 11:59pm.


  1. Participation(10%)

Attendance at all lectures and seminars (5%); Engagement in discussions (5%); Students will be expected to engage critically with their peers and seminar presenters.


Students are expected to attend all lectures and seminars.  If you will be absent, please contact the Instructor as soon as possible.


Successful class sessions rely on the presence of engaged students; thus, your punctual and regular attendance is crucial for your own learning, as well as that of others. Students are expected to contribute to class discussion on a regular basis, to have completed the readings prior to class each week, and to bring notes they have made on the readings to class. If you will be absent, please notify the course instructor in advance.


Late work: 

Late submission will result in a 5% grade deduction per day. Papers submitted more than three days late will not be accepted. When illness or other special circumstances affect your ability to meet the deadline, notification should be given to the instructors as soon as possible and before the deadline in question.