University of Technology Sydney

96330 Quality and Safety Improvement Methods

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2022 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Health
Credit points: 6 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


Health care systems are under increasing pressure to improve the quality, safety and cost-effectiveness of their services. In this subject, students are equipped with a range of approaches, methods, and tools to undertake this significant challenge in health and social care.

Students review the development of improvement science, examining key learning principles and approaches from a historical perspective, through to contemporary systems approaches to organisational learning. Next, students move to the theories, principles, frameworks and strategies to achieve the practical tasks of planning and embedding quality and safety improvement in the structures and everyday activities of health and social care organisations. Students review a range of measures and the kinds of data that are available to identify and diagnose opportunities for improvement, as well as to monitor and evaluate improvement programs and activities. Students also learn approaches to manage and lead change, as well as best practice strategies to evaluate the efficacy and impact of their improvement work.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:
A. Describe the history and key principles and approaches underpinning quality improvement in healthcare
B. Design, plan and implement a quality improvement project
C. Communicate quality improvement needs and outcomes to different audiences
D. Develop strategies to identify and address barriers to quality improvement
E. Critically appraise a range of methods to measure and evaluate quality improvement

Teaching and learning strategies

This subject is taught using a variety of teaching and learning strategies that emphasise active self-directed learning and engagement with the content, with the support and guidance of facilitators. Subject activities include, but are not limited to: thought provoking online resources, including videos, podcasts, interactive activities and opportunities to engage in online discussion with facilitators and fellow students.

Student learning in this subject is based on a model of experiential learning and reflection, mirroring the quality improvement methods and processes taught in the subject. Assessment tasks encourage critical reflection on self-directed application of the content, to a small, short-term, personal improvement project conducted during the 6 week subject.

Formal and summative feedback will be provided throughout the subject. Early, low-stakes feedback will be provided prior to census date in week 1, and throughout the following weeks in the form of interactive online activities with facilitator responses. Formal feedback will be provided through progressive assessment tasks, worth 20%, 30%, and 50%.

Content (topics)

  • History and key principles of quality improvement in healthcare
  • Theories and models of improvement, change, and evaluation
  • Methods to measure and evaluate improvement: quantitative and qualitative sources of data, methods of analysis, and presentation of data
  • Embedding quality improvement in organisations
  • Communicating safety and quality improvement
  • Evaluating quality improvement


Assessment task 1: Personal improvement project proposal


This proposal task corresponds to the initial ‘plan’ of a PDSA-type cycle, or any small-scale improvement project. Students are guided to consider how they would plan the first steps of a simple personal improvement project which they can conduct during the remaining 5 weeks of the subject.

The elements of this proposal will be expanded upon in Assessments 2 and 3. In total, these assessments provide an opportunity for students to apply the principles of safety and quality improvement, by experimenting iteratively and reflexively with the methods that are taught in this subject.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

B, C, D and E

Type: Report
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 20%

550 words

  • 20% Provides a clear and reasonable description, and logical analysis, of the problem, with reference to the research literature where relevant.
  • 20% Proposes reasonable and logical interventions that are consistent with the problem analysis, and are feasible to implement in a brief 5-week project
  • 25% Proposes reasonable measures that are sufficient to identify an improvement in the problem, and evaluate the progress of your project; and that are feasible to record on a frequent and regular basis, to provide sufficient data points for analysis.
  • 10% Proposes a realistic aim for improvement, justified by the problem analysis, and/or the research literature where relevant.
  • 15% Aims statement is clear and focused, consistent with the problem presented, and includes: a measurable component, an indication of magnitude of change (e.g. increase/decrease by x%), and a timeframe.
  • 10% Writes clearly, coherently and concisely, with correct grammar, spelling, formatting, style [brief report] and referencing.

Assessment task 2: Interim report and reflection


This assessment offers students an opportunity to report (and receive feedback) on the first 3 weeks of their personal improvement project, using what they have learnt from the subject so far. The main focus of this assessment is for students to demonstrate the ongoing reflection and learning that underlie safety and quality improvement methods.

This report is also designed to assist students in completing Assessment 3. Students will receive feedback on their project reporting skills, which will be required to complete Assessment 3.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, B, C, D and E

Type: Reflection
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 30%

1500-1750 words

  • 10% Provides an insightful analysis of the problem and demonstrates use of relevant tools and frameworks.
  • 5% Provides clear descriptions, and logical justifications for the intervention/s and measures chosen.
  • 10% Presents data collected so far in a clear and logical manner, using relevant methods of analysis.
  • 5% Provides a clear and focused aims statement, and a concise and descriptive summary of progress
  • 60% Provides critical insights on the experience of conducting the personal improvement project to date. Demonstrates how previous reflections have informed decisions made during the project.
  • 10% Writes clearly, coherently and concisely, with correct grammar, spelling, formatting, style [brief report] and referencing.

Assessment task 3: Improvement project report


This final assessment invites students to apply, and reflect on the principles, methods and strategies for improvement that they have learnt in this subject, in a formal report on their personal improvement project.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

B, C, D and E

Type: Report
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 50%

2000 - 2250 words

  • 5% Provides a descriptive title and clear and concise summary of the report
  • 15% Provides a comprehensive description of the nature and significance of the problem, and a logical rationale for the intervention, with appropriate reference to the research literature. Provides a clear and reasonable aims statement.
  • 15% Provides a comprehensive description of the context, interventions, measures, analysis, and any ethical considerations relevant to the methods undertaken in the project. Provides a logical justification for the measures chosen.
  • 15% Clearly presents and describes the results of the data collected, using an appropriate method of analysis
  • 10% Provides a correct interpretation of the results, and an insightful description of the impact of the project, any limitations, and future steps.
  • 30% Provides critical insights on conducting a personal improvement project, in relation to improvement in the healthcare context, with reference to the safety and quality improvement research literature.
  • 10% Writes clearly and concisely, with correct grammar, spelling, formatting, style [report] and referencing


Readings for this subject can be accessed in Canvas, via the Reading List tab.

Other resources

UTS Student Centre
Building 10

Monday to Friday: 9am - 5pm
Tel: 1300 ASK UTS (1300 275 887)

Details for student centres:

For other resources/ information refer to the Faculty of Health website ( and Canvas at:

UTS Library
The Library has a wide range of resources, facilities and services to support you including textbooks, subject readings, health literature databases, workshops and bookable study rooms. There is also a team of librarians to help you with your questions available via online chat, phone and in person. W:, Facebook: utslibrary, Twitter: @utslibrary Tel: (02) 9514 3666.

Improve your academic and English language skills
Marks for all assessment tasks such as assignments and examinations are given not only for what you write but also for how you write. If you would like the opportunity to improve your academic and English language skills, make an appointment with the HELPS (Higher Education Language & Presentation Support) Service in Student Services.

HELPS (Higher Education Language & Presentation Support)
HELPS provides assistance with English language proficiency and academic language. Students who need to develop their written and/or spoken English should make use of the free services offered by HELPS, including academic language workshops, vacation intensive courses, drop-in consultations, individual appointments and Conversations@UTS ( HELPS staff are also available for drop-in consultations at the UTS Library. Phone (02) 9514 9733.

Please see for additional information on other resources provided to students by UTS.

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