Health and Wellbeing of the Older Person

MSc, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate


In 2010, an estimated 524 million people were aged 65 or older—8 percent of the world’s population. By 2050, this number is expected to nearly triple to about 1.5 billion, representing 16 percent of the world’s population. Provision of effective health and social care systems and associated professionals are key to supporting the increased and evolving requirements to support older people within society.  Critical evidence 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 both in the UK and globally. Health and social care professionals are at the forefront of care delivery and are best placed to initiate and to drive forward innovations in care delivery. This programme provides professionals with the knowledge, skills and confidence to deliver informed standards of care, to act as change agents and develop leadership capacity in the care of older people.

The important values that inform this programme 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, expertise around the care of the older person will inform new roles within health and social care, support career pathways and strengthen leadership in this growing area of care.

This programme provides students with the advanced knowledge and skills to support their personal and professional development in this dynamic area of practice. Specialist modules ensure students gain insight into the complexities of caring for older people enabling them to act as change agents, facilitating improvements in care. Optional modules provide students with a platform to progress their practice and academic knowledge and skills. Knowledge and skill development will be achieved through critical engagement with both the academic content and practice experience that directly relates to the care of the older person.

Key information

EU Applicants
EU students enrolling for a taught postgraduate 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: MSc, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate
  • Study methods: Part-time, Distance learning, Online, Stand-alone modules, Campus based
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Start date:

    September and January

  • Course Director: Dr Annetta Smith
Download postgraduate prospectus

Dr Annetta Smith

Associate Head of Faculty
Highland and Western Isles Campus
Faculty of Health Science and Sport
University of Stirling

Highland Campus
Centre for Health Sciences, Inverness IV2 3JH + 44 (0)1463 255618

Western Isles Campus
Western Isles Hospital
Macaulay Road, Stornoway
Isle of Lewis, Scotland, HS12AF

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.
  • Gain knowledge and expertise around specialist areas of care that is inclusive of Multimorbidity, Dementia and Pain in Older Adults.
  • Critically apply new knowledge and skills to support collaborative working with other professionals that enables practice improvement in the care of older people.
  • Evaluate models of practice development and service delivery in hospital, community or residential care settings.
  • 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 practice leadership that will contribute to the delivery of high quality care for older people.

What makes us different?

World-class library and teaching facilities

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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.

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

Please note: If you are a student from overseas and applying with a Tier 4 student visa, campus based for full time study, we unfortunately cannot accept your application for this programme as it falls into the category of being part-time, delivered online or a distance learning programme. However, students from overseas can apply for this programme part time and will be supported via distance learning.

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 PG Cert - £4,350 PG Dip - £8,700 MSc - £13,050
2017/18 Home/EU £4,600


2018/19 Overseas MSc - £13,650
2018/19 Home/EU To be confirmed

From 2016/7 onwards, the fees for all taught postgraduate courses are to be held at the level set upon entry.

Please note there is an additional charge for the conferral of your degree. This will be charged at the rate applicable when you complete your studies. 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

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

  • 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.
  • 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.

Scholarship finder

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

The MSc in Health and Wellbeing of the Older Person (HWOP) contains three core modules each focused on older person care, four additional specialist modules and three optional modules.  All modules within the programme are at Scottish Credit Qualification Framework (SCQF) level 11.

*Exploring the Complexities of Caring for the Older Person (HWOP001 - CORE: 20 credits)
This module encourages students to critically examine and explore the complexities associated with caring for the older person and identify strategies for promoting health and wellbeing in an older person.
*Anticipating and Enhancing the Health and Wellbeing of the Person with Dementia in Practice Settings (HWOP002 - CORE: 20 credits)
This module offers students the opportunity to meet the strategic health priorities around the older person with dementia that impact on the patient and carer experience and their outcomes.
Multi Morbidity in the Older Adult (HWOP004 - CORE: 20 credits)
This module provides students with the knowledge to develop a critical understanding of assessment, monitoring and outcomes in the older adult with multi morbidity.
Pain in Older Adults (HWOP005 - SPECIALIST : 10 credits)
This module provides students with the knowledge and skills to explore pain assessment and management approaches in older adults and the special considerations given to the complex issues that practitioners encounter in practice.
Diabetes and Dementia (HWOP006 - SPECIALIST: 10 credits)
This module enables students to develop specialised knowledge, skills and confidence around the Diabetes – Dementia Dyad to inform their practice in caring for the older person.
*Partnerships in Care for Managing Long-term Conditions (ADPP006 - OPTIONAL: 20 credits)
This module provides the student with the opportunity to develop in-depth knowledge and skills required to meet the many challenges involved in working with people with a long-term condition and their carers/families.
*Quality Improvement Projects in Health and Social Care (ADPP012 - OPTIONAL: 20 credits)
This module offers the opportunity for those already engaged in quality improvement (QI) work to consolidate their learning and practice, but also offers a development opportunity for those relatively new to QI
Action Research in Healthcare Practice (HWOP003 - CORE: 60 credits)
This module spans three semesters. An action research project offers students the opportunity to engage with the strategic health priorities around the older person within the workplace setting and meaningfully contribute to care delivery.
*Skills for Knowledge Enquiry (NURP001 - OPTIONAL: 20 credits)
This module helps students develop literature search and review skills.
*Care Integration in Practice (ADPP027 - OPTIONAL: 20 credits)
This module provides students with the opportunity to explore delivery of integrated care and the impact on both the practitioner and patients and carers.
*Non-Medical Prescribing (ADPP013 - OPTIONAL: 40 credits)
This module prepares nurses to prescribe safely, appropriately and cost-effectively as independent and supplementary prescribers (pre-requisite NMC/HCPC recordable qualification only).
*Qualitative Design/Analysis (NURP003/004 - OPTIONAL: 20 credits)
This module prepares students to write a qualitative research proposal dissertation.
*Quantitative Design/Analysis (NURP005/006 - OPTIONAL: 20 credits)
This module prepares students to write a quantitative research proposal dissertation.
Research Proposal Dissertation (ADPP094 - OPTIONAL: 60 credits)
This module spans three semesters. The research proposal dissertation offers students the opportunity and skills to prepare a research proposal using either a qualitative or a quantitative methodology around care of the older person within the workplace setting.

*Available as a stand-alone CPD module

Delivery and assessment

The programme 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/Microsoft Lync) where appropriate for distant students.

The programme 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 dissertation project.

Recommended reading

Reading lists are made available on commencement of each module and are mostly available in electronic format.

Modes of study

This is predominately an online  distance learning programme with options for web- based teaching  using Skype, Microsoft Lync or videoconferencing as appropriate.  As such it is suitable for both Home/EU and Overseas Students.  

Example timetable

The timetable below is a typical example, but your own timetable may be different.

MSc Health and Wellbeing of the Older Person Pathway
  Autumn Spring Summer
Year 1 Exploring the complexities of caring for the older person (HWOP001) 20 credits (Core) Anticipating and enhancing the Health and Wellbeing of the Person with Dementia in practice settings (HWOP002) 20 credits (Core) Pain in older adults (HWOP005) 10 credits
Skills for Knowledge Enquiry (NURP002)20 credits  
Year 2 Multi Morbidity in the Older Adult (HWOP004) 20 credits     Diabetes and Dementia (HWOP006) 10 credits
And a choice of modules to earn 60 credits in Year 2 including the two 10 credit summer modules:
Care Integration in Practice (ADPP027) 20 credits
Partnership in Care for Managing Long-term Conditions (ADPP006) 20 credits Quality Improvement Projects in Health and Social Care (ADPP012) 20 credits  
Non-medical Prescribing (Advanced Practice) (ADPP013) 40 credits– Available for both spring or autumn commencement
Year 3 Action Research in Healthcare Practice (HWOP003) 60 Credits (Core)
Research Proposal Dissertation (ADPP094) 60 Credits

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.

Our research is world class and is recognised for its quality and innovation. We are the premier faculty for health sciences research in Scotland.

In the research assessment exercise REF2014:


  • The Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport came top for health research in Scotland and was ranked 12th in the UK overall;
  • Our research environment is outstanding and was rated as top-equal in the UK;
  • Overall nearly half of our research activity was rated as 4* placing us top in Scotland and 9th in the UK;
  • Nearly 90% of our peer-reviewed research papers were rated as being of international significance.



Programme recognition:

Winner : Education Provider of the Year,General Practice Awards (2014) UK

 Finalist: Post Registration Education Provider, Student Nursing Times Award (2015 and 2016) UK

International Students

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


The programme is a product of multi-disciplinary and multi-agency partnerships that ensures a robust academic and practice based context is maintained throughout.

Our Partners

We are delighted to work with our colleagues in the Faculty of Health Sciences, 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 Faculty of Health Sciences 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, NHS Highland

Our students

Rebecca Matthews, former MSc student

“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.”

Lesley Murray, former 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.” 

Freya Conway, former 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.”


Our staff

Programme Director

  • Dr Annetta Smith

Programme Team

  • Dr Leah Macaden
  • Elaine Dibden
  • Dr Clare Carolan
  • Julia Scott

Careers and employability

Career opportunities

This programme 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 programme 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 within the student's location of practice.
  • 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 programme 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 programme 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.

Funding available
© University of Stirling FK9 4LA Scotland UK • Telephone +44 1786 473171 • Scottish Charity No SC011159
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