Musculoskeletal Ageing and Health MSc/Diploma

This course explores the biological basis of age-related musculoskeletal decline and associated pathologies, including factors influencing the decline and interventions to maintain good musculoskeletal health as we age. 

With rapidly changing demographics, falling birth rate and increasing life expectancy, we are an ageing population. However, healthy lifespan is not keeping pace with increased longevity and people are living longer but not necessarily in good health. 

A significant contributor to ill health in old age is physical frailty and poor musculoskeletal function and health. Osteoarthritis alone affects 6 million people in the UK and the health consequences of low physical activity, in terms of years of life lost, are more significant than those of smoking.

The course is aimed at life science graduates interested in gaining an in depth understanding of the ageing process and how it specifically affects musculoskeletal function and health. It is suitable for those considering a research career as this Masters programme has a significant research component and the course is taught exclusively by active researchers in a national centre of excellence.

Designed also to appeal to allied health professionals, such as physiotherapists, dieticians and those working with the elderly in a clinical context, the part-time study and mentored practice options are specifically in place to support such students.

Supplying students with an in depth understanding of musculoskeletal ageing, equipping them with practical skills to assess and research the topic and learning practical approaches to minimise the impact of ageing on this major body system are the aims of this course.

Why study this course

The only Masters in the UK to focus on the impact of ageing on the musculoskeletal system this course is taught in a National Centre of Excellence - the MRC-ARUK Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research.

Healthy ageing research is a major topic and research strength at the University of Birmingham. In 2013 the University was awarded the MRC-ARUK Centre of excellence in Musculoskeletal Ageing Research (CMAR), ensuring this course is delivered by world leading researchers and practitioners.

The teaching and research is truly multidisciplinary, as CMAR combines the skills of researchers in the college of Medical and Dental Sciences with exercise scientists and physiotherapists in the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation sciences.

This course is unique as students will have the opportunity to carry out research in projects delivered jointly by Birmingham and the University of Nottingham, who are partners in CMAR.


The modules available are all 20 credits (with the exception of the research project which is 60 credits):

Compulsory modules:

Optional modules:

Students have to gain 120 credits for the PGDip using the 20 credit modules only.

MSc students have to gain 180 credits which must include a research project.

Related staff

Fees and funding


Home/EU students

MSc £7,200/PGDip £4,800

International students
MSc £16,350

Self funding students can choose to pay in instalments by direct debit.

Learn more about fees and funding.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government. Visit our website for information about scholarships for international students.

For information about all Home/EU and International funding opportunities please visit the Postgraduate Funding Database.

For other funding queries contact the School directly or get in touch with the Student Funding Office via the online enquiries system.

Entry requirements

For all applicants: BSc/BA honours degree normally classified at 2(i) or above or equivalent in a life science or physiotherapy.

For applicants undertaking clinical practice in the UK as part of the Continuing Professional Development and Mentored Practice module:

  • Current registration with the Health and Care Professions Council and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy for physiotherapists (includes professional indemnity).
  • Satisfactory current Disclosure and Barring Service (previously Criminal Record Bureau) check.
  • Satisfactory health declaration and immunisation record.

For applicants undertaking observation and supervised practice (where legal and professional responsibility rests with the mentor) within the UK, as part of the Continuing Professional Development and Mentored Practice module:

  • Satisfactory current Disclosure and Barring Service check.
  • Satisfactory health declaration and immunisation record.

International students:

Academic requirements
We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements
You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

English to IELTS 7.0 (with a minimum of 6.5 in each component).

How to apply

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

As a Birmingham student, you will be joining the academic elite and will have the privilege of learning from world-leading experts, as well as from your peers. From the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.

Learning is a combination of didactic teaching in lectures and seminars, coupled with small group teaching, practical classes and private study. Mentored practice is included as an option for allied health professionals. The anatomy and analytical skills module gives the opportunity to attend a 1 week course in protein turnover in muscle at Nottingham University.

You will also have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues.

Our facilities

The College of Medical and Dental Sciences houses state-of-the art facilities to support a range of teaching, learning and research activity. 

Our facilities ensure that students receive the best possible learning experience by working in a modern environment. Among our most recent developments include a refurbishment of the Medical School foyer, Barnes library and Wolfson Centre for Medical Education.

Explore our facilities and take a tour by moving around our 360-degree panoramas:


Assessment methods

A variety of methods are employed including in course assessments (written and practical) and summative unseen written exams.

Related research

The course is useful for life scientists wanting to progress to a further higher degree or a career in industry in the health and fitness sector. For AHPs the course will advance their understanding of frailty in old age and contribute new approaches to their practice.

Careers Support for Postgraduates

Careers Network – We can help you get ahead in the job market and develop your career.

We recognise that as a postgraduate student you are likely to have specific requirements when it comes to planning for your next career step. Employers expect postgraduates to have a range of skills that exceed their subject knowledge. Careers Network offers a range of events and support services that are designed for all students, including postgraduates looking to find their niche in the job market.

Here are just a few ways in which we can help postgraduates to get ahead:

  • careers networking opportunities
  • effective careers strategy toolkit
  • year planner for all postgraduate students
  • Masters Career Coaching workshops
  • one to one careers guidance

The Careers Network also have subject specific careers consultants and advisers for each College so you can be assured the information you receive will be relevant to your subject area. They also have a dedicated careers website for international students where you can find useful resources and information. 

For more information visit the Careers Network website.

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Living in Birmingham

Whether you are looking for university accommodation or a rented property in the private sector, our accommodation services team, 'Living', can help you find the right place.

Postgraduate and Mature Student Association (PGMSA)

If you are a mature student it's worth considering joining the Postgraduate and Mature Student Association (PGMSA). This voluntary, student-led group has an active Facebook group where you can keep up with all the events and activities on offer.

Are you an International Student?

The University of Birmingham has one of the largest international student communities within the UK. The mix of nationalities and cultures on campus greatly enriches our learning and teaching environment and will help you feel at home during your time with us. Find out more at our international student website


University accommodation for postgraduates is located across the University's three student villages, all of which are within walking distance of the main campus. We have a range of accommodation types, including flats with study bedrooms, sharing bathroom and kitchen facilities; flats with ensuite study bedrooms; and studio apartments where you have exclusive use of both kitchen and bathroom facilities.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and cultures, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work. Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.