CMED6000 Capstone Manual
This manual serves as an overview of the purpose, structure and requirements of the
Capstone, which is a requirement for completion of the Master of Public Health (MPH)
curriculum. This manual is a reference for all students admitted to the MPH in 2017 or
thereafter, and should be read in conjunction with the course material and other documents
available on the Capstone Moodle page.
What is the Capstone?
The Capstone is a culminating experience that allows students to integrate and synthesize
public health competencies specific to their concentration of study. Near the end of their
study, each student will submit a Capstone report of 5000-6000 words. This report should be
a high-quality written product that is useful to external stakeholders, such as non-profit or
A series of capstone courses (pre-recorded, online) are available on the Capstone 
Moodle page, which will help to orient students with specific skills for the completion of the
By completion of the Capstone, students should be able to:
Demonstrate a range of public health competencies that are appropriate to the
student’s educational and professional goals
Synthesize at least three public health competencies acquired in the core courses and
Produce a high-quality written report that is useful to external stakeholders
2. Introduction to Public Health
As part of the completion of Capstone, all students must complete Introduction to Public
Health. This non-credit course provides a solid grounding in the public health, required for
all MPH matriculating students.
This course is fully online and self-paced that covers the Foundational Knowledge
Competencies set forth by The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). The course
module will cover key basics and concepts of public health, the importance of evidence-
based practice, the various factors that influence health, and the necessity of taking an
ecological perspective to population health.
All matriculating students must complete Introduction to Public Health before September
30th, 2022. Please refer to the Introduction to Public Health Moodle page for further details.
3. Capstone competencies
According to their concentration of study, students should select one set of three public health
competencies to demonstrate in a specific written product from the options below. Each
option consists of at least two foundational competencies (covered in the core courses) and
one concentration-specific competency (covered in the concentration courses). These
combinations have been carefully selected for relevance and coherence to each concentration.
Students will not be assigned any topics or competencies; they should select a topic and a set
of competencies that are most relevant to their own educational and professional interests.
The topic could relate to any area in public health as long as the stated competencies are
demonstrated. Nonetheless, students are advised to clearly explain the public health
significance and implications of their chosen topic.
A full list of MPH competencies is available for reference in Appendix I. Students who
strongly wish to pursue competencies other than in the combinations and written products
specified below should discuss whether this is feasible with Capstone Advisor and
4. Capstone report
The Capstone report should be 5000-6000 words in length (excluding references, tables,
figures and footnotes). Each report must include an Executive Summary of not more than 300
words. Word counts should be included in the report.
The report must be in the format of a specified written product that is useful to external
stakeholders. Examples of each written product are provided on Moodle. Students should
also explain how the stated competencies have been demonstrated in a separate cover sheet.
The report may arise from the student’s Practicum experience but should represent the
student’s independent piece of work and demonstrate the stated Capstone competencies.
Capstone reports that are identical to written products submitted for other purposes, such as
the Practicum, will be considered plagiarism.
Please refer to Appendix II for the suggested sections to include in your final Capstone
Students have the responsibility to ensure that their Capstone report meets academic
standards in terms of content and writing style. Students should have their report carefully
edited for errors to make sure their ideas can be communicated clearly. The Advisors are not
responsible for proofreading or editing of the Capstone report. Online tools such as
Grammarly (https://app.grammarly.com/) may be useful editorial guides.
The Capstone course will provide guidance on scientific writing. The HKU Centre for
Applied English Studies also provides support in English language and writing. For more
information, please refer to: http://www5.caes.hku.hk/az/
The Capstone report should use Vancouver style for referencing. Students are provided free
access to EndNote, a bibliographical management software package, which allows easy
retrieval and creation of citations. For more information, please refer to the HKU Libraries
EndNote Guide at: https://lib.hku.hk/endnote/
The following are also useful resources on referencing:
Patrias K. Citing medicine: the NLM style guide for authors, editors, and publishers
[Internet]. 2nd ed. Wendling DL, technical editor. Bethesda (MD): National Library
of Medicine (US); 2007 - [updated 2015 Oct 2; cited 2017 Nov 28]. Available from:
National Library of Medicine. International Committee of Medical Journal Editors
(ICMJE) uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals:
sample references [Internet]; 2003 [updated 2017 May 24; cited 2017 Nov 28].
Available from: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/bsd/uniform_requirements.html
Ethics approval is required for any research involving human subjects, prior to
commencement of the study. Students should allow ample time for institutional review and
approval if such approval is required. If in doubt, students should discuss with their Advisor
or enquire directly with the Institutional Review Board (IRB).
For more information on the HKU IRB and application procedures, please refer to:
The IRB application must be signed by the student’s Advisor and submitted to the School
Director for endorsement through the MPH Office.
Students should obtain prior approval from the data owner and/or the study’s principal
investigator if the analysis of primary data is required.
Many software are available for data analysis. IBM SPSS Statistics (Statistical Package for the
Social Sciences) is a software package that many students use. Most computer labs on campus
are equipped with SPSS and other software for statistical analysis.
SPSS offers student licenses “IBM? SPSS? Student GradPack” for either the entire or part
of the period of study. Students who would like to use SPSS on their own computer can find
the procedures for installation of SPSS (network license version) here:
5. Capstone course
Students are highly encouraged to attend the Capstone course, which will provide them with
important information and skills for completion of the Capstone report, including scientific
writing and systematic review. Each of the five sessions will cover discrete topics as follows:
Session Topic Teachers Date
1 Capstone - what it is and what it
Dr Polly Wong Available online
2 Capstone – how to organize
written work effectively
Dr Ryan Au Yeung
3 Synthesizing and interpreting
evidence for the Capstone
Dr Jane Zhao Available online
4 Systematic Review and Meta-
Dr Ryan Au Yeung
5 Important Note about Academic
Misconduct and How to Avoid
Dr Polly Wong Available online
Academic Integrity Quiz
6 Capstone Briefing – with
Nov 2022 (TBC)
Please check Moodle for the Capstone Courses.
6. Capstone proposal
Each student is required to submit a two-page outline of their proposed Capstone report and
competencies to be addressed, and to discuss this proposal to their Capstone Advisors for
feedback and approval in February of their graduation year. The student must seek
endorsement (signature) from the Capstone advisor prior to submission on Moodle.
Please refer to Moodle for the Capstone proposal template, a preliminary capstone proposal
should be submitted to the Capstone Advisor by mid-December.
The finalized, endorsed proposal outline is due 15 February of your graduation year.
Students should discuss their Capstone planning with their Capstone advisor.
If your proposal is satisfactory, obtain signature from Capstone Advisor on the
proposal outline and submit to Moodle
If your proposal is not able to satisfactorily address the proposed competencies, you
must revise your proposal according to the comments given and resubmit your
Students should adhere to the proposal as far as possible once it has been endorsed. If you
have any questions about the feedback, please consult your Advisor first. Your Advisor may
decide to further consult your Concentration Lead if needed.
Capstone title submission is due June 15 of your graduation year. Students will not be
allowed to revise their title this date.
7. Academic advice
The Concentration Leads will provide guidance on the selection of a topic and Capstone
competencies that are appropriate for the student’s educational and professional goals. Each
student will also be assigned an Advisor, who will monitor the student’s progress and guide
them in completion of the Capstone report. Students should not expect the Concentration
Leads or Advisors to provide them with topics or data for analysis.
As part of the Capstone course, students will receive guidance on topic selection, scientific
writing, systematic review and interpretation of evidence. Students will also present a
Capstone proposal to their Concentration Lead for feedback and approval.
Concentration Leads have the responsibility to:
Guide students within their concentration in the selection of Capstone competencies and
a topic appropriate to the student’s educational and professional goals; and
Provide feedback to students within their concentration on their Capstone proposals,
together with the Capstone Advisors.
Capstone Advisors have the responsibility to:
Meet with their students regularly to monitor progress on the Capstone and coursework;
Consult the Concentration Lead for any clarifications needed regarding the demonstration
of Capstone competencies; and
Provide timely advice to the student regarding problem definition, data analysis and
8. Student responsibilities
Students have the responsibility to:
Conduct independent work that meets the stated competencies in a timely manner;
Adhere to all the required deadlines for submission;
Attend all sessions of the Capstone course;
Submit a proposal of their Capstone to their Capstone Advisors and/or Concentration
Meet with their Advisor regularly;
Consult their Advisor with explicit questions and respect;
Consider seriously the advice given by the Advisor;
Submit a full draft of the report to their Advisor at least 2 months before the final
deadline, allowing ample time for the Advisor to provide feedback; and
Decide on and justify the methods used, and carry out their own analysis and
9. Academic integrity
All students are required to sign and consent to an “Academic Integrity Statement” at the
beginning of the academic term and comply to all the terms.
The Capstone is an experience that students are assessed on individually. While students are
encouraged to discuss with and learn from other students with the same Advisor, they should
not work together on the same Capstone report.
Plagiarism is a serious but avoidable offence. According to the University’s regulations,
plagiarism is defined as “direct copying of textual material or wilful use of other people’s
data and ideas, and presenting them as one’s own without acknowledgement, whether or not
such materials, data and ideas have been published.”
Some common forms of plagiarism include:
Copying or using information from other sources (e.g. publications, newspapers,
websites) without proper acknowledgement
o This is easily preventable. Students should appropriately reference the source and be
able to explain and rephrase the ideas of others in their own words.
Quoting a passage from other sources
o In general, it is best to avoid any copying at all. Quoting a large amount of materials
from other sources does not show the student’s own understanding. If a direct quotation
from others’ work must be used, the passage concerned must be placed in quotation
marks or identified using proper indentation, and the source must be provided clearly
immediately after the quoted passage.
For more resources on how to avoid plagiarism, please refer to the following:
ILT01: Information Literacy Training: Academic Honesty [HKU Online Learning
Course]. Available at: https://learning.hku.hk/catalog/course/ilt01-information-
Gardner D. Plagiarism and How to Avoid It. The University of Hong Kong: Centre
for Applied English Studies; 1996-2012. Available at:
All Capstone reports will be screened for plagiarism using Turnitin. Evidence of plagiarism,
syndication or copying may result in a zero grade for the Capstone. Serious or substantive
cases of academic dishonesty may be referred to an Inquiry Committee (acting on behalf of
the Board of Studies) and the University’s Disciplinary Committee.
There are no excuses for plagiarism or any form of academic dishonesty. Students who have
plagiarised often claim to have done so in a panic to finish their Capstone. This is why you
should allow ample time to work on your Capstone and for your Advisor to provide
If exceptional circumstances (e.g. medical reasons) make it difficult for you to submit your
Capstone report on time, you should contact your Advisor and the MPH Office as soon as
possible to see if a deadline extension could be granted.
Academic Integrity Quiz
All students must complete the “Academic Integrity Quiz” on Capstone Moodle page,
achieving 100% on quiz results. This must be completed before capstone proposal
The Capstone carries 15 credits (equivalent to 5 courses). Students must complete the
Capstone to a satisfactory standard in order to meet the requirements for graduation.
To satisfactorily complete their Capstone, students should:
Submit their Capstone proposals to the Concentration Leads or their representatives
Have their Capstone proposals endorsed by the Concentration Leads or their
Have their Capstone report titles endorsed by their Advisors
Achieve an overall “pass” on the final Capstone report (i.e. obtain a total score of at least
60 out of 120)
Please refer to Appendix III and Moodle for the grading rubric that applies to each type of
written product, which include:
1. Research grant proposals
2. Infectious disease preparedness/response plans and programme plans
3. All other written products
Students should read these rubrics carefully as their Capstone report will be assessed using
The Capstone report will be assessed by two internal examiners of the School, who will not
be the student’s Advisor. The external examiner will be consulted in the final determination
of student grades.
Students may be required to attend an oral examination in early August, and so should make
themselves available during this time.
CMED6000 Capstone Manual