PGCert Design for Dementia and Ageing

Draw from our unrivalled international expertise in environmental design for dementia and ageing with our flexible online Postgraduate Certificate in Design for Dementia and Ageing.

Design for Dementia and Ageing

Key facts

  • Award Postgraduate Certificate
  • Start date September 2024
  • Duration 12 months part time
  • Mode of study part time
  • Delivery online


The world’s population is ageing and with this there is a greater need to ensure the environments in which we work, rest and play are supportive and inclusive of this demographic shift. 

The Postgraduate Certificate Design for Dementia and Ageing offers students the opportunity to study online for a postgraduate degree qualification in relation to environmental design for dementia and ageing.

This unique course provides students with an advanced understanding of environmental design principles , implications for policy, practice, economic, social and cultural issues in relation to dementia and ageing, and the development of ageing and dementia inclusive environments.

The course will also introduce students to principles and practice in relation to inclusive and participatory approaches to engagement when designing ageing and dementia inclusive environments.

The programme will cover content and skills development in design, as well as introducing students to theory and practice in dementia studies, gerontology and housing of relevance to environmental design.

The course is suitable for architects, housing and design professionals who are interested in designing inclusive and supportive environments for older people and people living with dementia.

This course is also suitable for health and social care professionals who are interested in the impact that environments and environment design have on supporting healthy ageing and for people living with dementia.

Top reasons to study with us

Course objectives

This course will give you access to specialist knowledge in relation to architectural practice and environmental design for ageing and dementia. At the end of this course, graduates will develop key skills including:

  • in-depth knowledge of key concepts informing aged care and dementia care practice;
  • key principles and concepts in relation to age friendly and dementia friendly housing;
  • the role of the environment in influencing the experience of dementia and ageing;
  • key principles in relation to the design and implementation of age inclusive and dementia inclusive environments;
  • international and multidisciplinary perspectives regarding environmental design practice for ageing and dementia care;
  • practical examples of the ageing and dementia inclusive design process;
  • assessing and evaluating age inclusive and dementia inclusive environments.

Flexible learning

If you’re interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email Graduate Admissions to discuss your course of study.

Faculty facilities

Based at the Iris Murdoch Building – the world’s first purpose-built dementia friendly public building – the Dementia Services Development Centre at the University of Stirling provides world leading consultancy in environmental design practice for dementia and ageing design.

During the course, students will have access to our design and technology suite where they can experience the most recent environmental design research in-situ.

Additionally, each student will have access to a tour (online or in person) of this unique building and learn from the international  design principles and features first hand.

Research overview

When you study Design for Ageing and Dementia you are drawing on three decades of pioneering research, design and consultancy within the University of Stirling and the Dementia Services Development Centre.

We have led the world in research on dementia inclusive environments, with recent research projects in this area include Designing Homes for Healthy Cognitive Ageing, a £1.8m Economic and Social Research council project exploring the challenges and opportunities arising from age friendly housing and environmental design.

Leading research at Stirling has also included Nurolight: sleep light and dementia, which explores the impact of artificial light on our sleep/wake cycle, and the Our Connected Neighbourhoods project, which has explored the role of communities and neighbourhoods in promoting dementia inclusive environments. Our research is undertaken in collaboration with people with lived experience and with international organisations in countries such as Australia, Japan and Sweden.

Underpinning the expertise of our staff, the University of Stirling scored highly in the most recent Research Excellence Framework 2021 – a UK-wide assessment of universities’ research output. In the Social Work and Social Policy unit of assessment, we ranked 3rd in Scotland and top 25 in the UK – with 100% of our research environment and 88% of our research deemed world leading or internationally excellent.

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

A minimum of a second class honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience in architecture, design, health and social care, housing, product design or interior design are encouraged to apply.

International entry requirements

View the entry requirements for your country.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS Academic or UKVI 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each sub-skill.
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic) 62 overall with 60 in each sub-skill.
  • IBT TOEFL 80 overall with 18 in reading, 23 in writing, 19 in listening and 21 in speaking.

See our information on English language requirements for more details on the language tests we accept and options to waive these requirements.

Course details

Our PG Certificate course features three individual modules leading to a Postgraduate certificate. This modular structure draws upon bespoke content for this programme alongside modules from the MSc Dementia Studies and MSc Housing Studies programmes (part time and with internship) at the University of Stirling. These modules will ensure you can develop your knowledge and expertise in relation to ageing and dementia inclusive design from multiple perspectives.

One module is taken on a part time basis during each semester. Each semester starts with an online introductory session. You will then join an online tutorial group of fellow students and teaching staff. Academic learning is subsequently undertaken through a combination of individual study and interactive online sessions with your tutor group.

Learning is designed to be flexible so that you can study when and where you choose.


The module information below provides an example of the types of course module you may study. The details listed are for the academic year that starts in September 2024. Modules and start dates are regularly reviewed and may be subject to change in future years.

Course Details


You will study during three semesters at Stirling. Modules offer a mixture of online content including videos, recorded short lectures, interactive activities and online face to face teaching sessions.

You will be encouraged to develop as an independent learner, working through reading and tasks set on a weekly basis.

You are expected to set aside a substantial part of your week to complete this work. During teaching sessions, you will discuss topics you have been given to prepare in advance, work through tasks in groups and can ask questions. This allows you to consolidate your knowledge, delve into the subject and work with your fellow students, who will come from diverse backgrounds. These activities will help you develop graduate attributes including team working, communication skills and time management.

As well as these sessions, you might have to complete tasks to help your understanding of the subject and develop your skills. Our learning and teaching approach is not only about transferring knowledge to you, but also about you building confidence to learn independently while developing a wide range of skills.


Your learning will be assessed against the learning outcomes of each module you take, throughout your degree. These contribute to demonstrating that you have met the overall learning outcomes for your degree. Assessment requirements for each module will be explained at the outset of the module, so you will know what you need to do, how and when.

Assessments will take a range of styles including online open folder examinations; closed book examinations; reflective writing; essays; reports; presentations; multiple choice tests; and creating digital artefacts like podcasts.

A common pattern is to submit a mid-term coursework assessment followed by a further assessment at the end of the module. Some modules will offer formative assessments early in the module, which do not count towards your module grade, but give you the opportunity to practice your technique and test your knowledge.

The role of feedback in learning cannot be underestimated and you will receive feedback in a range of formal and informal ways. For example, you will receive formal feedback on all coursework. Informal feedback will be given by tutors and other students during tutorials, you will have opportunities to discuss requirements before completing assignments and will have access to grade descriptors so you understand what is expected of you and you will have the chance to discuss your feedback with your tutors. This helps you understand what you are doing well, where you might improve and take responsibility for your learning. All formal feedback is returned within 15 working days of when you submit work.

Classroom hours

Students are expected to spend 200 hours per module. Student contact involves a range of activities, with most activities involving self-directed learning through course materials delivered through our virtual learning environment. This includes short lectures, guest seminars, podcasts, videos and textual content, links to external resources and pdf workbooks. Students are also supported via an optional personal tutor meeting.

Course director

Professor Lesley Palmer, Professor of Ageing and Dementia Design

Professor Lesley Palmer is course director and module coordinator for the module DEMPGC4, Design for Ageing and Dementia, International and multidisciplinary perspectives. 

Key staff

Dr Martin Quirke, Lecturer in Dementia, Ageing and Design. Dr Martin Quirke is a tutor on the programme.

Dr Junjie Huang, Lecturer in Dementia, Ageing and Design. Dr Junjie Huang is a tutor on the programme.

Dr Richard Ward, Senior Lecturer in Dementia. Dr Richard Ward is module coordinator for the module DEMPGC2, Dementia, Space and Place.

Fees and funding

Fees and costs

Fees for UK and Republic of Ireland: £2776

Fees for international students: £4,786

Postgraduate tuition fee loans

This course is eligible for a postgraduate tuition fee loan from one of the UK’s governments. See the section, below, for more details.

Additional costs

There are some instances where additional fees may apply. Depending on your chosen course, you may need to pay additional costs, for example for field trips. Learn more about additional fees.

Scholarships and funding

Learn more about available funding opportunities or use our scholarship finder to explore our range of scholarships.

Postgraduate tuition fee loans

Scottish students may be eligible to apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for loans of up to £11,500 to cover tuition fees and associated living costs.

English students can apply for a loan of up to £12,167 each year as part of the Postgraduate Masters Loan Scheme.

Welsh students can apply for financial support of up to £18,770 as a combination of grant and loan from Student Finance Wales.

Northern Irish students can apply for a postgraduate tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 from Student Finance NI.

Payment options

We aim to be as flexible as possible, and offer a wide range of payment methods - including the option to pay fees by instalments. Learn more about how to pay

After you graduate

This course is for experienced professionals from all relevant disciplines and enables you to study while continuing to work in your existing post. Some of our graduates have moved to specialised posts, while others have secured a promotion, undertaken further research or become involved in training.

  • Advance your career prospects by growing your expertise in this specialist area of environmental design, housing and health and social care.
  • Fit your studies around your current job commitments.
  • Put everything you’re learning straight to work in a professional setting.

Employability skills

Throughout your studies you’ll gain transferable skills that enable you to impart knowledge to colleagues and other students, transfer awareness and implement action in practice and provide training to colleagues in architecture, environmental design, housing or health and social care.

The course enhances employablility within the broad field of architecture, environmental design and housing for dementia and ageing. The qualification can also equip you to move to more specialised and promoted posts within health and social care settings.

Companies we work with

Because everyone studying the course is working in a professional field related to environmental design for dementia and ageing, you’ll automatically find yourself engaging with a wide range of organisations across statutory, private and not-for-profit sectors in different countries within the UK, Europe and worldwide.

Our teaching team and the Dementia Services Development Centre have extensive contacts with a range of commercial and non- for-profit organisations across the world.

These include:

  • Silviahemmet (Sweden)
  • IKEA (Sweden)
  • Forbo Flooring (UK)
  • Mediva Inc. (Japan)
  • JCCPA (Hong Kong)
  • HR Care (Italy). 

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PGCert Design for Dementia and Ageing

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