Online Study

Online Classrooms

Most units of study in the PGC programs are delivered primarily through distance education, which allows flexible integration of your studies with your professional and personal lives. In these units of study, you will work in small groups and interact with your colleagues and your tutor via a web-based (online) classroom. There is no need to be online at a particular time - you can visit the classroom each week at times that suit you. At the introductory residential held in February each year we ensure that everyone is comfortable with participating in the online classroom.

Online classrooms are the space in which students interact with their facilitator and peers within a structured curriculum for each unit of study. Below is an image of a typical online classroom. We will teach you how to use an online classroom at the start of your study in the program.


Each unit of study will use a range of learning resources:

  • a Study Guide
  • Textbook (for some units)
  • Other print resources e.g. journal articles, sections of books
  • Websites
  • Your facilitator and other experts in the field
  • Your fellow students.

Weekly Activity

In most units of study, each week you will:

  • Read through the relevant topic in your study guide.
  • Read the relevant essential readings for the topic.
  • Complete some self-assessment activities.

Your facilitator will:

  • Post learning activity(i.e), to be completed as a class, in an online discussion board (if you have used web-based bulletin boards or forums before it is very similar). You and the other students participate in the activity.
  • Continue to moderate the activity/discussion during the week, adding their expertise to that which exists across the group of students.

Participation in online discussions is a compulsory part of the program and a requirement to pass a unit of study.

This is because collaboratively working on each area of study is central to the learning process for the VPHMgt and the VPH programs.

However, we do understand that work and personal emergencies happen: where something unexpected and unavoidable prevents you from participating online, you are able to gain special consideration.


In addition you will have individual and group assignments to complete. These are opportunities to reinforce and demonstrate your learning, to practice working in teams across space and time and for you and your facilitator to assess your progress in achieving your learning goals.

All of these activities – reading, self-assessment, participation and completing formal assessment tasks – will usually take you about 10 hours per week for each unit of study. For more details about the time you can expect online study to take, please read the information further below on setting aside study time.

Technical Requirements

To study online you need regular access to a computer with an Internet connection. If you are using your home computer the minimum requirements are:

  • A consistent and reliable broadband internet connection
  • Windows 7 or 8 operating systems
  • Windows Browsers using IE 9 or 10, and Firefox
    3.5/3.6 and above
  • Mac running OS x10.5 or x10.6 or above systems
  • Mac Browsers are Firefox 3.5/3.6+
    and Safari 4.0/5.0
  • Microsoft Office (or equivalent) Word and Excel (2003 or higher versions)
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader

Assumed Knowledge and Skills

Some basic skills in Microsoft Word and Excel would be an advantage.

It is assumed that you have statistics knowledge at an undergraduate level for the ABMgt and VPHMgt programs. If you feel you need to brush up on your statistics skills, a Biostatistics Refresher Course is available from January - February each year.

Setting Aside Study Time

Most units of study in the VPHMgt program are 3-credit points and are studied online over a 7-week period. You should be prepared to spend a minimum of 75 hours overall on each 3-credit point unit of study. This equates to around 10-11 hours per week.

There are however, a few exceptions to this:

Leadership, People & Organisations
Leadership, People & Organisations is a 6 credit point unit of study (approx 150 learning hours overall) that is studied over a 5 day residential and then online for 14 weeks. The residential also includes some non-Leadership material. After the residential you will spend approximately 13 weeks in further discussion and approximately one additional week completing a group assessment task (completing in week 14). You should set aside approximately 10 - 15 hours per week for this unit during weeks 1 - 14.

Project Management
Project Management is a 6 credit point unit of study (approx 150 learning hours overall) that is taken over a 3 day residential and then online over the whole semester. You should set aside approximately 7 - 9 hours per week for this unit during weeks 1 - 14.

Leadership: Managing Change
Leadership: Managing Change is a 3-credit point unit of study (approx 75 learning hours overall) taken over a 3 day residential with a low-level online component for 7 weeks. You should set aside approximately 5 - 7 hours per week for this unit.

Research Projects
Research papers are unique pieces of work and the time spent on them can vary considerably from project to project. For a 6 credit point project you should expect to spend a minimum of 150 hours and a minimum of 300 hours for a 12 credit point project. Although you will usually be enrolled in the research paper unit(s) over a 14 week period, you will spread your project tasks over one whole year. Research papers require some planning in advance and guidance will be provided to help you to do this.