Health and Wellbeing of the Older Person

MSc, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma

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Health and Wellbeing of the Older Person
  • Type Part-time, Distance learning, Online, Stand-alone modules
  • Start date September and January

Dr Annetta Smith Associate Head of School
Highland and Western Isles Campus
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health
University of Stirling

Highland Campus
Inverness IV2 3JH

Western Isles Campus
Western Isles Hospital
Macaulay Road, Stornoway
Isle of Lewis, Scotland, HS12AF
+ 44 (0)1851 708250

The over-arching aim of this course is to support health and social care professionals to develop an enhanced and applied knowledge base of the health and wellbeing of the older person and their service provision.

Critical literature has been amassed which shows that current standards of care often fail to deliver good quality care for the older person, therefore the need to improve the care and experience of the older person in health and social care have become significant policy drivers in the UK and beyond. To address policy requirements it is widely recognised that professionals require knowledge, skills and confidence to deliver standards of care, act as positive role models and develop leadership capacity in the care of older people.

The important values that inform this course reflect the growing priorities that have been identified which support the need to provide an improved and more responsive level of care for older people. Furthermore it is important that new roles need to be developed within health and social care, career pathways mapped out, and leadership in this area is strengthened.   

This course provides students with the advanced knowledge and skills to support the course aims. Specialist modules ensure students gain insight into the complexities of caring for older people enabling them to act as change agents, facilitating improvements in aspects of that care. Knowledge development and experience will be achieved through critical engagement with both the academic content and practice experience, directly related to the care of the older person.

The MSc in Health and Wellbeing of the Older Person was a finalist in the Student Nursing Times Awards 2014 - Nurse Education Provider of the Year (Post Registration) category.

Course objectives

The student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the principal theories, concepts, policies and practices that influence delivery of health and social care for the older person
  • Critically apply new knowledge and skills to support collaborative working with other professionals that enables practice improvement in older persons care
  • Evaluate models of practice development and service delivery in all settings where the older person lives or is cared for
  • Develop original and creative solutions to problems and issues that arise in practice
  • Plan and execute a significant practice project which focuses on improvement of care for the older person
  • Demonstrate attributes of personal organisation, planning and evaluation skills that support effective academic and clinical work
  • Demonstrate development of attributes and skills commensurate with clinical leadership that will contribute to the delivery of high quality care for older people

Entrance requirements

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.

Current professional registration as nurse or health/social care practitioner is required.

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

The course utilises a blended approach to learning. Blackboard Collaborate™ is used as a platform for synchronised e-learning. Module content will be supported by Web-based materials including podcasts. Campus days will be facilitated by face to face contact using video-conferencing/connective technologies/SKYPE where appropriate for distant students.

Course start date

September and January

Structure and content

The MSc in Health and Wellbeing of the Older Person (HWOP) contains three core modules each focused on older person care, plus two additional specialist modules. The 15-week modules are at SCQF level 11.

Delivery and assessment

The course utilises a blended approach to learning. Blackboard Collaborate™ is used as a platform for synchronised e-learning. Module content will be supported by web-based materials including podcasts. Campus days will be facilitated by face to face contact using video-conferencing/connective technologies/SKYPE where appropriate for distant students.

The course assessment strategy will centre on student acquisition of the necessary theoretical knowledge and access to expert practice required to meet the learning outcomes. The student will be encouraged to participate in a reflective and critical review of their knowledge and practice through engagement with online materials, case studies and project report.

Recommended reading

Reading lists are made available on commencement of each module.

Module titles

Academic Year 2015/16

We are currently revising the curricula for our 2015/16 course.

Course Director

Dr Annetta Smith


In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.

More information

RAE rating

In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), 20 percent of the School’s research was described as ‘World-leading’ and a further 65 percent as of ‘International Significance’, placing the School  of Nursing, Midwifery and Health firmly as a leading provider of nursing and midwifery education in Scotland and one of the top ten in the UK.


The course has been developed in partnership with NHS Boards and Third Sector. Course delivery will continue to strengthen academic and health and social care partnerships.

We are delighted to work with our colleagues in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Stirling including design and delivery of Alzheimer Scotland sessions through our Practice Development team and Service Manager Trainers. We have also welcomed the opportunity to host arranged visits to our Services. Our partnership work in this module affords the opportunity for partners and students to share good practice, generate creative ideas for practice improvement and raise awareness of specialist community information, advice and support resources across practice settings while promoting further development of cross sector peer support networks at local level. This is very much in line with Alzheimer Scotland’s aim of making sure no one goes through dementia alone.”

Maxine Johnston, Alzheimer Scotland Regional Manager, Highland, Western Isles & Orkney

The School of Nursing, Midwifery & Health at the University of Stirling positively embraces the opportunity to welcome guest speakers from both the statutory and third sector organisations to help consolidate learning and apply to practical situations.  As an Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Nurse Consultant, I have been heartened to see the dedication, effort and passion of teaching staff on this programme to emphasise the positive aspects of caring for an older person and wellbeing, moving beyond the traditional biomedical model that tends to focus on deficits and often negative connotations of nursing older people. The programme by embedding dementia as a core module helps promote the importance of ensuring dementia becomes everybody’s business in the health and social care setting. It is truly an honour for me to continue to support this programme and to see students making a conscious decision to work with older people.

Ruth Mantle, Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Nurse Consultant

Our students

I have broadened my knowledge and understanding of care of the older person as well as skills in anticipating the health and well-being of my patients in the community. It has allowed me to have a deeper understanding of the differences between the normal ageing process and dementia, and the importance of involving family members and carers in care planning and decision making.

Distance and self-directed learning has allowed me to manage my own time, support and guidance from my tutors have been excellent as have all the learning resources made available.

There is a dominant clinical focus within the programme recognising the need for integration of health and social care, and research has taken on a whole new exciting meaning of engaging, responding and contributing to improve care for the older person.

Completing this programme will help to enhance my career path in nursing older people and contribute to exciting opportunities to open new ones.

Rebecca Matthews, MSc student

The opportunity to study at Master's Level on a topic that is so current and benefits patients is exciting.  The programme encourages you as a practitioner to extend your knowledge and review clinical practice to improve healthcare outcomes for the older person.

Lesley Murray, MSc student

Not only an incentive to research and keep up to date with contemporary issues within the health and social care context, but a good opportunity to further career prospects.

Freya ConwayMSc Student

Our staff

Course Director

  • Dr Annetta Smith

Course Team

  • Dr Leah Macaden
  • Elaine Dibden
  • Julia Scott
  • Sandra Menzies

Career opportunities

This course facilitates the development of expert knowledge in care of the older person and helps prepare health and social care professionals to deliver the specialist knowledge and skills required to support their practice.

All modules are related to NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (KSF).


This course equips students with the knowledge and skills that they can utilise within their professional practice and workplace, including health, social care and voluntary sectors. Students will have an in-depth knowledge of health and social care needs of older people and solutions to enhance that care. They will also have the opportunity to gain a range of transferable skills relevant to their professional careers. Importantly, students will be able to act as change agents by: 

  • Applying skills of critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis to issues which are at the forefront of developments in the care of the older person and their care delivery
  • Developing an in-depth understanding of policy development and implementation
  • Developing original and creative responses to challenging/complex situations and make informed decisions/judgements
  • Constructing, implementing and appraising a research project and engaging in a systematic appraisal of project methods and its findings
  • Undertaking a quality improvement initiative in practice and possessing an in-depth appreciation of quality improvement processes
  • Disseminating information through a variety of media

Industry connections

The course provides opportunities for students to fully appreciate the collaborative and interdisciplinary dimensions and skills essential to work within the health, social care and voluntary sectors and to utilise their knowledge to progress the care of the older person. The course is strengthened by a multi-disciplinary collaboration with clinical colleagues across National Health Service Regional Boards, Social care agencies and the voluntary sector, for example Alzheimer Scotland.


2016/17 Overseas PG Cert - £4,150 PG Dip - £8,300 MSc - £12,450
2016/17 Home/EU PG Cert - £1,500 PG Dip - £3,000 MSc - £4,500
2015/16 Overseas PG Cert - £3,967 PG Dip - £7,933 MSc - £11,900
2015/16 Home/EU PG Cert - £1,500 PG Dip - £3,000 MSc - £4,500
2014/15 Overseas PG Cert - £3,630 PG Dip - £7,270 MSc - £11,400
2014/15 Home/EU PG Cert - £1,330 PG Dip - £2,670 MSc - £4000

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.


There are different funding options available depending on the route of entry into the course:

  • Self-funded or some competitive funding options are available, including postgraduate scholarship places which offer a flexible route of study – scholarship information
  • The Scottish Funding Council is funding Home/EU tuition fees for a number of places on the MSc in Health and Wellbeing of the Older Person. Funded places are open to applicants domiciled in Scotland and the EU. More information
  • Individual modules are available as part of CPD – funding support for these may be available, for example, through NHS Boards.

Further information about tuition fees within the University.