Universiteit Leiden

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Health, Ageing and Society (MSc)

Course content

The Master’s programme Health, Ageing and Society trains its students to become academic Health, Ageing and Society professionals and engaged citizens who are competent and trained internationally and interdisciplinary. They are able to contribute to solutions for the challenges facing our ageing society.

Main Elements of the Programme

Health, Ageing and Society is an intensive English taught programme. The programme lasts one academic year (60 ECTS). When followed parttime, you will cover the same content in two academic years. For more information see parttime programme.

Below is an outline of the main modules of the programme.

The organisation of our ageing society needs innovation. The Master's starts with an intensive one-week introduction to learn about vitality and the ageing field. This introductive module is developed as a base for the three educational lines in the master’s programme: Communication in Science, Research and Evidence and Academic Development.

This module will focus on the biological aspects of vitality and healthy ageing. Attention will be paid to repair mechanisms, nutrition, longevity and maintenance of bodily and mental functions, and independence.

The aim of this module is to develop understanding of the biological mechanisms that underlie ageing and age-related diseases so as to stimulate scientific thinking towards potential interventions aimed at enhancing vitality. Based on the central concept described above, this module focuses around seven major themes, namely:

  • Demography and the life course
  • Molecular damage control
  • Neuro-endocrine systems
  • Environmental cues
  • Animal studies: methods and tools
  • Interventions to enhance vitality
  • Entrepreneurship in life sciences

You can have a look at the module book to get a better idea of the course.

In this module, students gain understanding about perspectives of older individuals on health and ageing. Initially, we will focus on risk and resilience factors that determine vitality and well-being.

Older individuals differ greatly, not only as to the extent to which they experience increasing somatic, functional and social changes or limitations, but also regarding their self-regulation abilities to adapt to adversity and to reach personal goals.

In this module, the notion of vitality and resilience will be further explained by introducing common challenges to health in older age. Students will dive into topics of common diseases, chronic conditions and other problems affecting day-to-day activities from the perspective of the older individual. For example, osteoarthritis, dementia, multimorbidity and polypharmacy.

Moreover, students will start a design-thinking process to come up with innovations that fit challenges to health in older age. During this process, co-creation with older individuals will guide you in the right direction.

You can have a look at the module book to get a better idea of the course.

The organisation of our ageing society is undergoing change and requires further innovation. Given the increasing incidence of chronic diseases and their combined occurrence, especially in older persons, it has become essential to implement more effective strategies to prevent and manage the consequences.

Furthermore, interventions to improve vitality are essential. This demands significant changes in organisation of healthcare. Students will become acquainted with different models of care, such as the chronic care model, integrated care model and preventive care model. In addition, they will learn to understand influential applications such as value based healthcare and triple aim.

The Dutch healthcare system will be used as a starting point from which international differences will be described and analysed. Theory and applications will relate to organisation of public health care, primary care and long-term care and hospital care.

In the internship of at least ten weeks, the student will perform a research project in the field of vitality and ageing. In order to achieve the objectives, the student familiarises him/herself with the existing knowledge in the field to which the research or policy question pertains.

The student carries out individual research in order to obtain answers to the questions and participates as a member of the team of the department (university or organisation); also in consultations and work discussions.

It is possible to combine the Health, Ageing and Society internship with the scientific internship of another Masters programme (e.g. medical scientific internship (wetenschapsstage geneeskunde)). The science and career coordinator will help you to organize the process of combining the two internships.

Line Education

All modules are supported via line education in which the students improve their academic transferable skills continuously during the year. These academic skills are of great importance for your professional and personal development during the programme. In the Master’s this is seen as highly valuable because this will prepare you for your scientific internship and the next steps in your career.

This dedicated line education consists of:

An important focus will be professional career development. Mentoring and a personal development programme will facilitate students to get insight in their personal strengths, weaknesses, wishes and possibilities, in order to make choices regarding professional development. Moreover, during the whole year a number of orientation visits will be arranged. The aim of these visits is to get to know organisations and the people who work there,  and the activities they undertake. The visits also serve as orientation purpose on the job market. In addition, workshops about job application, networking and CV writing are offered.

Examples of orientation visits throughout the year are: Max Planck Institute, Cologne; Leiden Municipality; Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports (VWS); insurance company Zorg & Zekerheid; national centre of expertise for long term care (Vilans); and ActiZ.

Having strong communication skills is imperative for a successful working life. Consequently, this educational line will focus on developing your communication skills (written and spoken) in academic, scientific and professional contexts. Communication in Science (CIS) will prepare you to express your ideas in an engaging manner to expert and non-expert audiences. By doing so, you develop tangible communication skills that will be advantageous for your future careers as researchers, practitioners and policy advisors.

The ability to interpret results of research, to critically appraise scientific articles, to define a valid research question and to design and perform a scientific study is a necessary academic skill. The line Research and Evidence is designed to help the students prepare for writing their research application and performing their scientific internship, from searching systematically for scientific information, critical appraisal of the literature, formulating a valid research question, designing and executing their own study, and performing the data-analyses themselves.

Interested in following the Master's alongside your job or as a second Master's? Check out our parttime programme!

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