Universiteit Leiden

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Vitality and Ageing (MSc)

Programme structure

The master’s programme Vitality and Ageing trains its students to become academic Vitality and Ageing 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.

The one-year master’s programme provides the students with knowledge and skills, additional to their diverse bachelor backgrounds, to become academic professionals who are capable of improving the care and welfare of the older people in an ageing society. Find all our detailed information of the programme at the e-Prospectus.

The main elements of the programme

The Vitality and Ageing master’s programme is an intensive (fulltime) English taught programme. The programme lasts one academic year (60 ECTS). To accomplish the mission an aligned programme was designed, in which the students start with an introduction to the field of Vitality and Ageing in the module Future Perspectives.

The organisation of our ageing society needs innovation. The master 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. During the first week, the students will experience the importance of the development of academic skills and the value to be social connected with older people.

Themes that are included:

  • Introduction to the master staff, coordinators and colleague students.
  • Perspectives on the master’s programme: Introduction of the three themes of the content module: biology of vitality and ageing, the older individual and the organisation of the ageing society.
  • Perspectives on future: your personal master-year, your ambitions, your career
  • Perspectives on becoming older: personal experiences and discussions with older persons
  • Start of training in academic skills and communication: interdisciplinary cooperation,creative thinking, team roles, writing and presenting. Through combining these different perspectives on vitality and ageing, the students will obtain insight in the most important aspects of the master Vitality and Ageing.

Thereafter, the students will study the concepts of vitality and ageing subsequently at the level of the cell, the level of the older person and the level of the society in three content driven modules:

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:

  • The life course
  • Molecular damage control
  • Neuro-endocrine systems
  • Environmental cue
  • Model organisms: methods and tools
  • Enhancing vitality
  • Human studies: methods and tools

In this module, students gain understanding about perspectives of older people 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. Common diseases and conditions among older people comprise conditions such as osteoarthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, dementia and depression.

Other problems affecting day-to-day activities also occur often with increasing age such as mobility problems, incontinence, cognitive problems and sensory disorders. Moreover, many older individuals experience several concurrent chronic conditions (multimorbidity or comorbidity) and experience problems with multiple pharmacological medications (toxicity).

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.

All modules are supported via line education in which the students improve their academic transferable skills continuously during the year. This dedicated line education consists of:

  • Academic Development
  • Communication in Science
  • Research and Evidence

In the final part of the curriculum, the students are challenged to bring their obtained knowledge and skills into practice during a 10-week internship in the module Science and Career. In this internship, the students investigate a research question in a scientific, care or policy context and write a thesis.

In this 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.

He or she 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.

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