The University of Stirling is committed to world class education and research, with a pioneering spirit and a passion for innovation and excellence.
Applied Social Science is at the forefront of developing new e-learning opportunities. In 2003, we offered the first online MSc in Dementia Studies in the UK. In following person-centred care principles, this course places the person with dementia at the very centre of our understanding.
In joining our distance learning postgraduate course in Dementia Studies, you will become part of an international, multi-disciplinary community of students and academics, committed to creating change and improving dementia practice and the experiences of living with dementia.
Our course takes a theory-based and practice-oriented approach to consider the diversity of living and dying with dementia. It encourages collaborative, inter-disciplinary, critical and reflexive learning and it seeks to produce leaders of change in the dementia field.
The objectives of the MSc are to:
- develop an advanced understanding of multidisciplinary perspectives about dementia and approaches to dementia care
- address critical issues in dementia care and service delivery
- foster improved multidisciplinary and collaborative practice
- compare and contrast national and international research
- identify and debate current practice developments
- develop critical thinking to promote reflective practice
- develop knowledge and skills of social research processes
The course has been developed to provide students with an in-depth, research-based knowledge of dementia, including theory, innovative and best practice, policy drivers and initiatives studies and a grounding in academic and research skills.
A minimum of a second class Honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent in a relevant subject. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.
Students must be professionals currently working in a relevant field.
Please note: If you are a student from overseas and applying with a Tier 4 student visa, we unfortunately can not accept your application for this course as it falls into the category of being part-time, delivered online or a distance learning course.
English language requirements
If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence of your proficiency such as a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 (6.0 in all bands).
If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard.
Our range of pre-sessional courses.
Modes of study
Part-time (delivered by mixed mode):
MSc: three years
Diploma: two years
Certificate: one year
Course start date
September and January
Structure and content
The Dementia Studies has been carefully designed to form a coherent and integrated course.
The Postgraduate Certificate comprises two modules completed over a year. The modules are:
- Critical and Creative Approaches to Dementia - introduces students to current and cutting edge theory in dementia studies and explores how this has been taken forward and translated into practice. Due to the complex nature of dementia, theoretical perspectives from a range of disciplines will be considered. Students are encouraged to understand how these theories influence practice and within this module the focus is on the diverse array of creative and arts-based approaches to working with people with dementia as viable alternatives to pharmacological interventions. Students will be supported to develop skills of critical analysis and writing, and to better understand recent developments in the theoretical and methodological landscape of dementia studies.
- Dementia and the Environment - explores the role of the environment in the lives of people with dementia and carers, as well as the relevance of the built and social environment to dementia care practice. We examine different understandings of space and place, and consider the growing body of literature and research evidence in this emerging field. Opportunities will be given for students to relate research evidence to their own practice or caring situation and to enhance their understanding of strategies and tools for assessing and utilising design and technology to support people with dementia.
The Postgraduate Diploma comprises four modules completed over two years. The modules are those undertaken for the Postgraduate Certificate, as well as:
- Education and Support for Paid and Unpaid Carers of People with Dementia - examines what is known about the experiences of paid and unpaid carers of people with dementia. There is a strong focus on the various education and training programmes offered to these two groups.
- Living with Dementia – Care Pathways - looks at the experiences of people with dementia through the lifespan of the condition from diagnosis to end of life care and death. Examples are drawn from a wide range of groups and individuals to illustrate diversity in the experiences of people with dementia.
The Postgraduate MSc comprises six modules completed over three years. The modules are those undertaken for the Postgraduate Diploma, as well as:
- Researching Dementia - focuses on different aspects of the research process. Assignments will include a literature review and a research proposal. This module will equip students with necessary skills to undertake social research.
- Evaluation and Assessment in Dementia Care - introduces students to the evaluation process. It discusses assessment and outcome measures. The module will develop students’ skills in critical analysis of the literature and in assessing research and evaluation projects.
Delivery and assessment
Each module commences with a one day introductory session at the University. For international students, or those unable to attend the introductory session in person, there is the option to join in virtually, and we can set you up with our online system called Collaborate so you can take part in the session remotely. Learning then consists of 300 hours study over a 14-week period.
Apart from an introductory session, all teaching uses text and web-based distance-learning materials. The specially designed interactive website enables student interaction and tutorial support as well as providing online access to the course materials and much of the reading material required. Special emphasis is placed on a collaborative and problem-solving approach to learning and on encouraging reflective practice.
All modules are assessed through coursework and you experience a range of assessment including essays, evaluation reports, research proposals and literature reviews.
Students will require access to a computer with an internet connection; broadband or a link to a powerful LAN (such as in a college or University) is the preferred option, although dial-up with a minimum of a 56K modem will also work.
- Critical and Creative Approaches to Dementia
- Dementia and the Environment
- Education and Support for Paid and Unpaid Carers of People with Dementia
- Living with Dementia – Care Pathways
- Researching Dementia
- Evaluation and Assessment in Dementia Care
We are currently undertaking a significant revision of our curricula and details for 2015/16 will follow.
Study abroad opportunities
The course is international and online. You can complete international study from the comfort of your own home and interact with students from all over the world.
Dr Louise McCabe
In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), 95 percent of the research in Applied Social Science at Stirling was ‘Internationally Excellent’ with the top 10 percent of that judged to be ‘World-leading’.
The University of Stirling is recognised worldwide for its work in dementia studies and is home to the internationally renowned Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC), which is dedicated to improving services for people with dementia, their families and supports. Our team of experts advise governments and academic institutions in the UK, Europe, China and Australia on dementia-related issues, and provide training and consultancy for the private, voluntary and statutory sectors. We are at the forefront of developing new e-learning opportunities which allow professionals to fit study around their busy working lives.
The wider Dementia and Social Gerontology research team at the University of Stirling comprise an experienced group of social and clinical researchers from a broad range of disciplines encompassing geriatrics, psychology, sociology, nursing and social work. We have a long-standing reputation for undertaking international standard research in the field of dementia studies. Our work focuses on improving the lives of people with dementia and those who care for them through better understanding of their experiences and by exploring mechanisms for improving the services and support they receive.
Current students on the MSc in Dementia Studies are professionals and practitioners from many fields within health and social care including social workers, nurses, doctors, occupational therapists, speech therapists, care home managers and staff, service managers, health and care service inspectors and commissioners. Students come from the UK, Europe, India, Canada and Australia; around two thirds are UK students and one third from other countries.
“The DSDC at the University of Stirling is 'cutting edge' when it comes to Dementia studies. It was the reputation that attracted me. Shortly after I completed the course I was offered a wonderful opportunity to manage one of the Post Diagnostic Support projects in Scotland. I am presently working with health, social work, 3rd and independent sectors along with the Scottish government. I do not believe that I would have been offered the post if I had not just completed the MSc in Dementia studies with Stirling University!
Shirley Speirs, Dementia Project Manager.
Stirling offered the course that in my view was the most academically rigorous, diverse as well as relevant, and was prompted by the rising challenges for dementia services. The highlights were two fold, firstly meeting and engaging with the course tutors and fellow students at the induction days, and secondly engaging with the academic dialogue committed to and contributing to the campaign for improvement in dementia services, care and support.
The depth and breadth of the course has introduced me to the wider understanding of the complex debates, challenges as well as the innovative developments in the subject which in turn has enabled me to develop and improve our own dementia care and support services and help us improve the quality of life of the people with dementia for whom we care. My learning has been a rewarding, thorough and at times exacting journey into an area of topical, immediate and growing challenge, and which underpins my ability to make a significant impact for the better in this area.
As well as being able to improve our own dementia care and support services we have also been able to (i) challenge shortfalls in service commissioning locally (ii) raise the profile of dementia in the local area and (iii) be part of the development of a cross sector county wide Dementia Partnership which will improve the effectiveness of the entire care and support infrastructure and improve the quality of life of people with dementia in our region.
Geoffrey Cox, Managing Director, Southern Healthcare (Wessex) Ltd, England
Dr Louise McCabe has worked in the field of dementia studies in both practice and academia for over fifteen years, starting her career as a care worker in residential homes for older people. Louise has been a lecturer in Dementia Studies within the School of Applied Social Science since 2005 and was part of the team that developed the first online MSc in Dementia Studies course, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2013. Louise is currently the course lead for the School's undergraduate and postgraduate education in Dementia Studies. In addition, Louise has an active research career and has been involved with many research and evaluation projects focused on improving the lives of people with dementia and their carers.
Dr Richard Ward is a registered social worker who has worked in the field of dementia for the last twenty years. As a researcher in ageing and dementia he has investigated issues including communication and dementia care; older people’s experiences of age discrimination; and the support given to people with dementia to manage their appearance in care. He is currently leading an NIHR-ESRC study investigating the role of neighbourhoods in the lives of people affected by dementia.
Dr Jane Robertson has been involved in dementia studies research and education at Stirling for over ten years. Jane’s research interests centre on health, well-being and quality of life in older age, with a focus on experiences of living with dementia, caring and service development in dementia care. She has examined the perspectives of people with dementia, family carers and frontline care workers in relation to everyday experiences of living with dementia and caring for people with dementia. She is also currently involved in research focusing on relationships and psychosocial interventions in cancer care and cardiac rehabilitation.
This course has enabled students to develop practice within their existing posts, while some previous students have moved to more specialised or promoted posts. It has also encouraged some students to continue with research on completion of their studies. Other students have become involved in training initiatives.
The Postgraduate Dementia Studies course is intended for experienced professionals from all relevant disciplines. Our students learn great transferable skills that enable them to impart knowledge to colleagues and other students, transfer awareness and implement action in the community, and provide training to family members and carers. The course also enhances employability within the broad field of dementia care enabling students to move to more specialised and promoted posts within health and social care settings.
All of the students on the course are working within the dementia field and, as such, the course engages with a wide range of organisations across statutory, private and not-for-profit sectors in different countries within the UK, Europe and worldwide.
|2015/16||Overseas||£1,500 per module|
|2015/16||Home/EU||£1000 per module|
|2014/15||Overseas||£1,365 per module|
|2014/15||Home/EU||£945 per module|
You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.
Tuition Fees for programmes of study starting in 2016/7 have not yet been set please check back here in December 2014.
The Scottish Funding Council is funding Home/EU tuition fees for a number of places on this course. Funded places are open to applicants domiciled in Scotland and the EU.
For more information please click on the following link: Masters Scholarships
Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loan
This course is currently approved for PTFL (Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loan) funding from SAAS.
For more information please click on the following click: Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loan
Postgraduate Dementia Studies - Stirling Dementia Fund Scholarship
We can offer a limited number of scholarships to part fund Postgraduate learning about dementia.
For more information on the Stirling Dementia Fund Scholarship please contact DempPG@stir.ac.uk
Further funding information: Other possible sources of funding