Dementia Studies

Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, MSc

Funded places available

If you meet all eligibility requirements you will automatically be considered for one of the fully funded places.

98% of our postgraduate leavers are in employment or further study within six months of graduating (Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2015/16).


The University of Stirling is committed to world class education and research, with a pioneering spirit and a passion for innovation and excellence.

The Faculty of Social Sciences 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.

Key information

EU Applicants
EU students enrolling for a postgraduate taught degree in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 academic year will be admitted as Scottish/EU fee status students and will be eligible for the same tuition support as Scottish domiciled students.

  • Qualification: Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, MSc
  • Study methods: Online, Part-time, Campus based
  • Duration: MSc - 3 years (36 months) Diploma - 2 years (24 months) Certificate - 1 year (12 months)
  • Start date:

    September and January

  • Course Director: Dr Richard Ward
Download course leaflet
Download postgraduate prospectus

Faculty of Social Sciences
Colin Bell Building
University of Stirling

  1. Innovation: We are the longest running provider of online postgraduate qualifications in Dementia. With over 10 years of experience, we are committed to being at the forefront of e-learning opportunities.
  2. Flexibility: As the course is offered part time by online learning, our modules are designed to be taken concurrently by those with existing work and personal commitments.
  3. Excellence: You will be taught by an experienced group of world-leading academics, with strong and established research records, real sector experience and a wealth of world-class publications who will support you both personally and academically.
  4. Connected: You will join an international, multidisciplinary community of students and academics passionate about positive changes in dementia and practice.
  5. Recognised: We are home to the internationally renowned Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC). Our internationally focused work incorporates the sharing of contemporary ideas and practice with governments and other academic institutions.

Course objectives

The objectives of the programme 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. This includes theory, innovative and best practice, policy drivers and initiatives, and a grounding in academic and research skills.

What makes us different?

World-class library and teaching facilities

Studying for a degree means learning in different ways; managing your own time; conducting research; mastering new computer skills. We have the facilities and advice on hand to help you do all this - and do it well.

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Entry requirements

Academic 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.

Students must be professionals currently working in a relevant field.

Please note: Students from overseas opting to study online do not need to apply for a Tier 4 visa.

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: 6.5 with 6.0 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade B
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 60 with 56 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 90 with no subtest less than 20

For more information go to English language requirements.

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. View our range of pre-sessional courses.

Flexible Learning

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

Fees and costs


2017/18 Overseas £1,100 per 20 credit module
2017/18 Home/EU £690 per 20 credit module


2018/19 Overseas £1,150 per 20 credit module
2018/19 Home/EU £700 per 20 credit module

Fees for all new applicants to postgraduate taught courses are held at the level set upon entry.

Please note there is an additional charge should you choose to attend a graduation ceremony. View more information

Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

Scholarships & funding

SAAS Postgraduate Loans

The Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) is now offering a generous loan scheme to assist eligible Scottish and EU-domiciled students pursuing a Masters at the University of Stirling during 2018/19. Find out more about SAAS Postgraduate Loans

Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loan

This course is currently approved for PTFL (Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loan) funding from SAAS.

For more information please visit: Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loan

Postgraduate Dementia Studies - Stirling Dementia Fund Scholarship

We can offer a limited number of scholarships to partially fund postgraduate learning about dementia.

For more information on the Stirling Dementia Fund Scholarship please contact

Further funding information: Other possible sources of funding

MSc in Dementia Studies Scholarships 

Alzheimer Scotland and the University Alumni fund are funding a number of scholarships to assist with the fees for studying on the MSc in Dementia Studies for students in first, second or third year of study.

Scholarships available

Students opting to undertake the MSc or PG Diploma in Dementia Studies (i.e. 2 or 3 years of study) can apply for funding of £1,000. Students opting to undertake the PG Certificate in Dementia Studies may apply for funding of £500*.

*Any students who can provide evidence of financial hardship may be granted up to £1000 in funding for the PG Certificate.

Eligibility criteria

You must meet the standard course criteria: experienced professionals from all relevant disciplines and informal (i.e. unpaid) carers.

Those who apply should have a university degree in a relevant field or equivalent qualification. Evidence of extensive practice experience and previous study will also be considered.

As courses within this programme are delivered online. Students are required to have access to a computer with internet connection.

Please note: Scholarships funded by Alzheimer Scotland are available to students in Scotland only.

In addition, a smaller number of scholarships supported by the Alumni fund are available to students applying from outside of Scotland.

In order to apply for either scholarship, please send a covering letter/email (and evidence of financial hardship, if relevant) indicating your interest in applying for the Scholarship, to our programme support adviser at by no later than 22 August 2017.

Scholarship finder

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

The modules within Dementia Studies have been carefully designed to form a coherent and integrated course.

Postgraduate Certificate

The Postgraduate Certificate comprises of three modules completed over a year. The modules are:

Critical and Creative Approaches to Dementia (20 credits SCQF level 11)
The module 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 (20 credits SCQF level 11)
Students explore 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.
Critical and Reflective Thinking in Dementia Studies (20 credits SCQF level 11)
An introduction for students into critical and reflective thinking in dementia studies. The online learning community will be a source for students to draw on others’ experiences, as well as reflecting on their own academic practice. Students will be introduced to critical reading and writing skills to develop their knowledge and understanding of how to synthesise, reference and cite literature. They will be encouraged to use these academic practice skills to reflect critically on creative approaches to dementia.
Postgraduate Diploma

The Postgraduate Diploma comprises six modules completed over two years. The modules are those undertaken for the Postgraduate Certificate, as well as:

Enhancing Dementia Practice (20 credits SCQF level 11)
This module aims to contextualise current dementia practice and to unpick the underlying theories and mechanisms that support good practice in dementia care. It considers how practice is enhanced through the acquisition and use of new knowledge and evidence and the subsequent sharing of this through transfer and learning.
Living with Dementia (20 credits SCQF level 11)
Students are afforded the opportunity to explore, examine and reflect on 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.
Understanding and Evaluating Evidence in Dementia Studies (20 credits SCQF level 11)
The module provides students with skills and knowledge that will enable them to effectively evaluate a range of evidence from research and practice and to then utilise this evidence to build a strong knowledge base and improve practice within their workplace. Focusing on four keys themes: evaluating the research evidence; understanding statistical evidence; promoting participatory practice and research; and utilising skills in social media to develop practice and knowledge networks. The module aims to enable students to read and understand a range of research study types and to evaluate the strength of the evidence presented within these.
Master of Science (MSc)

The Master of Science (MSc) comprises nine modules completed over three years. The modules are those undertaken for the Postgraduate Diploma, as well as:

The modules:

Researching Dementia (20 credits SCQF level 11)
The module focuses on different aspects of the research process. This module will equip students with necessary skills to undertake social research.
Researching quality of life with dementia: approaches and methods (20 credits SCQF level 11)
This module focuses on different aspects of the research process. It will equip students with necessary skills to undertake social research. The concept of quality of life is used to explore different methodologies, methods, practical and ethical considerations.
Developing a Dementia Research Proposal (20 credits SCQF level 11)
The objective of the module is to develop students’ research skills and knowledge, enable them to plan a research study and develop the necessary tools to carry out this project.

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, we record lecture podcasts and run an online introductory session. Learning then consists of 200 hours study per module.

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 students will 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. 


Academic Year 2017/18

  • Critical and Creative Approaches to Dementia
  • Dementia and the Environment
  • Critical and Reflective Thinking in Dementia Studies
  • Enhancing Dementia Practice
  • Living with Dementia
  • Understanding and Evaluating Evidence in Dementia Studies
  • Researching Dementia
  • Researching quality of life with dementia: approaches and methods
  • Developing a Dementia Research Proposal


Modes of study

Part Time:

MSc: three years
Diploma: two years
Certificate: one year

Study method

Part Time Online

Why Stirling?


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.

International Students

The University of Stirling welcomes students from around the world. Find out what studying here could be like for you .

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.


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 Ageing Research Group 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.

Our students

Current students on the Dementia Studies programme 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, Asia, Africa, North America 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, Third 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


Our staff

Dr Richard Ward (Course Director) 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 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 Faculty of Social Sciences 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. 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 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 has also been involved in research focusing on relationships and psychosocial interventions in cancer care.

Dr Grant Gibson A Human Geographer and Social Gerontologist by background, Grant joined the Faculty of Social Sciences as a Lecturer in Dementia Studies in 2015. Grant has been an academic researcher in the fields of dementia care and chronic illnesses in old age for over 12 years. Over this time Grant has worked on projects evaluating satisfaction with memory services among people with dementia and their carers, the design and implementation of assistive technology for people with dementia, and provision of health and social care services for people with dementia and their carers in primary care. Grant also has experience of carrying out research with people with Parkinson's disease, having worked on a large multi site study exploring prevalence of mood disorders in people with PD. Grant has experience of a range of social theoretical approaches, and of qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Careers and employability

Career opportunities

This course has enabled students to develop practice within their existing posts and 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.


98% of our postgraduate leavers are in employment or further study withing six months of graduating - Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2015/16

The postgraduate Dementia Studies course is intended for experienced professionals from all relevant disciplines. Our students learn 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 enhances employability within the broad field of dementia care and enables students to move to more specialised and promoted posts within health and social care settings.

Industry connections

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.

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