Musculoskeletal Ageing and Health MSc/Diploma

Please note, the MSc Musculoskeletal Ageing and Health programme will not be running for the academic year 2018/19.  If you are interested in this programme, please email to register your interest.

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. 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:

  • Research methods (distance learning)
  • The musculoskeletal system in health and disease
  • Maintaining mobility, fitness and function in health and disease
  • Biology of ageing
  • Research project

Optional modules:

  • Psychology of physical activity promotion
  • Nutrition and metabolism
  • CPD and mentored practice
  • Advanced musculoskeletal physiotherapy 1
  • Advanced musculoskeletal physiotherapy 2
  • Musculoskeletal anatomy and analytical methods

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 £7,650
PGDip £5,100

Overseas (full-time only)
MSc £17,100

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

Learn more about fees and funding.

Postgraduate Loans for Masters students

You can apply for a government loan of up to £10,280 (2017/18) per student for postgraduate Masters study. This is a contribution towards the costs of study and whether the loan is used towards fees, maintenance or other costs will be at the discretion of the student. Find out more about the Postgraduate Loan.


Global Scholarships for Excellence

The College of Medical and Dental Sciences is offering a number of Global Scholarships for Excellence for outstanding students on our postgraduate taught programmes. The value of each award is £2,000 to be off-set against tuition fees, is tenable for one year only and cannot be deferred to a later year. 

Overseas Research Scholarships

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).

If you need help with your English language skills then support is available. 

The English for Academic Purposes Presessional course is for international students who have a conditional offer to study at the University, but who do not currently meet the English language requirements. The course is tailored to your level of English and allows you to meet the English language requirements for your programme without retaking IELTS. The EAP programme runs throughout the year and offers different programme lengths ranging from 42 weeks to 6 weeks. The length of course you need depends on your future course, your existing IELTS score and the English level you need for your university degree.

Find out more about the English for Academic Purposes Presessional course.

How to apply

International students requiring visas

Monday 2 July 2018 is the application deadline for international students who require a visa to study in the United Kingdom. We are not able to consider applications for 2018 made after this date and a new application should be made for September 2019. Applications will reopen for 2019 entry by 21 September 2018.

Before you make your application

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Making your application

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.

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 Postgraduate Students

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. 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. For more information visit the Careers Network website

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Are you an International Student?

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The City of Birmingham

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