Course Overview

Driven by a commitment to research-informed interdisciplinary education, the MSc examines demographic ageing from a public policy perspective, critically assessing existing approaches and future directions to secure an effective and fair means of engaging older people in ageing societies. 

Students will: analyse critical policy challenges relevant to diverse older populations; assess the role of public policy in the fair and effective allocation of opportunities across the life course; evaluate the readiness of existing policy structures; and assess to what degree the application of policy levers are supporting older people and addressing system sustainability issues. Hosted at the internationally recognised Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, the course comprises of an applied project, and taught modules in the areas of: public policy and the economics of ageing; social exclusion and inequality; international policy; health systems and policy analysis; work, pensions and retirement; and diversity, ageing and the life course.

In completing this programme, students will be able to:

  • Analyze critical policy challenges relevant to demographic ageing and the lived experiences of a diverse older population;
  • Assess the role of public policy in the fair and effective allocation of resources and opportunities across the life course;
  • Evaluate the readiness and influence of existing policy structures and broader socio-political context on the success of policy implementation;
  • Assess to what degree the application of policy levers are supporting older people and boosting system sustainability, or creating new unintended inequalities and system sustainability issues.

Scholarships available
Find out about our Postgraduate Scholarships here

Applications and Selections

Applications are made online via the NUI Galway Postgraduate Applications System

Who Teaches this Course

Requirements and Assessment

Key Facts

Entry Requirements

Normally applicants require a primary degree with Second Class Honours, Grade 1, in a related social science discipline (e.g. economics; sociology; management; social work; policy orientated degrees) or a cognate field of study (e.g. health sciences; public health). IELTS score of 6.5 or equivalent if applicable. Applications from people with commensurate experience in ageing-related policy and practice will also be considered.

Additional Requirements


1 year, full-time

Next start date

September 2020

A Level Grades ()

Average intake


Closing Date

 Please view the offer rounds website.

NFQ level

Mode of study

ECTS weighting




Course code


Course Outline

Indicative list of modules:

  • Introduction to Ageing Studies and Policy
  • Public Policy and Economics of Ageing Ageing
  • Social Exclusion and Inequalities
  • Data Management and survey techniques
  • Law and Policy on Independent Living
  • Econometrics
  • Health Systems and Policy Analysis
  • International Policy and Ageing Work
  • Pensions and Retirement Diversity
  • Ageing and the Life Course Environmental
  • Gerontology and Ageing in Place Policy Legal Capacity Law and Policy
  • Applied project (Policy Brief and Seminar)
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Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

Graduates will possess in-depth analytical skill sets which will enhance employability in ageing specific and general public policy. Students are likely to be employed as policy analysts and managers in public bodies; policy and strategic planners in civil society organisations; service coordinators; senior staff within private ageing-related organisations. This course will also serve as an excellent grounding to pursue a PhD programme.

Unique Programme Internationally

Currently, there is an absence of a master’s programme exploring this topic in Ireland, and a general lack of programmes on ageing and policy in Europe. Typically, at a European level, existing programmes employ a general gerontological perspective rather than a public policy focus (please see market research document appended to this proposal) and often adopt national languages, limiting appeal and audience. Similar programmes do exist in the UK, but either fail to engage sufficiently with public policy perspectives, or with the demographic ageing context. They are also likely to be less appealing to European and non European students in the context of BREXIT. This marks a substantial gap in programme development, with a significant opportunity for the College of Business, Public Policy and Law (CBPPL) to lead on scholarship and teaching on in this area, in Ireland and internationally.

Who’s Suited to This Course

The MSc in Ageing and Public Policy is expected to attract three different groups of students:

  • Students who wish to specialize from general public and social policy bachelor programmes from across commerce, law, management, and sociology disciplines. This is within NUI Galway, other Irish universities.
  • Level 8 students from gerontological specific programmes in European universities, who wish to continue their ageing studies in an English-speaking environment, are also likely to be attracted by this programme.
  • Policy stakeholders, civil servants and service practitioners from national, European and international public and third sector agencies in sectors relevant to ageing.   

Learning Outcomes


Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU

Fees: Tuition

Fees: Student levy

Fees: Non EU

Find out More

Programme Director:
Prof. Kieran Walsh
Irish Centre for Social Gerontology
T: +353-91-495460


Mairead McGuinness |   MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament

Living a long, healthy and happy life is what most of us wish for. Yet as we age, we can lose independence, be treated differently and feel left behind and left out. We need to rethink how we look at the ageing process and how we respond to it. This course is an important one which will help those who undertake it to look at the challenge of a growing older adult population and find solutions which respect the dignity and rights of older people.
Prof. Norah

Prof. Norah Keating |   Director, Global Social Issues on Ageing

To reap the dividends of population ageing we must reduce social exclusion of older persons. This masters programme in Ageing and Public Policy will build much-needed capacity in policy development and analysis toward leaving no one behind.
Dr. Alexandre

Dr. Alexandre Sidorenko |   European Centre for Social Welfare Policy & Research

Adjusting to ageing society envisages translating the research findings, international policy frameworks and national programmes into concrete actions. There are too few professionals who can lead such efforts, and it is a major gap in national and international capacity on ageing. The Irish Centre for Social Gerontology of NUI Galway is well positioned to fill this gap. It is high time to do it

Anne-Sophie Parent |   Secretary General, AGE Platform Europe

AGE Platform Europe welcomes the launch of NUI Galway new MSc programme on Ageing and Public Policy. In today’s context of rapid demographic ageing and increased digitalisation, policy makers need guidance to develop innovative policies to address the societal concerns interconnected with population ageing. This new Master programme is the first in Ireland to take a comprehensive approach to engage older people in societies and eradicate inequalities in old age.

Robert Anderson |   Head of Unit, Social Policies, Eurofound

Eurofound is an EU Agency providing knowledge on living and working conditions to policy makers, specifically at EU level. Our work programmes consistently emphasise the importance of demographic change and the life course perspective; and the links between ageing of the workforce and ageing of the general population. There is a growing need for people skilled in relating results of research on ageing to diverse policy themes. Therefore, I welcome the MSc in Ageing and Public Policy.
Prof. Thomas

Prof. Thomas Scharf |   Prof. Thomas Scharf Professor of Social Gerontology, Newcast

Around the world, countries are responding in remarkably different ways to the opportunities and challenges associated with ageing populations. This type of academic programme is of great value to students who are keen to deepen their knowledge of the many ways in which public policy is able to address demographic change.

Best College of Business 2019

Best College of Business 2019



  • Postgraduate Taught Prospectus 2020

    Postgraduate Taught Prospectus 2020 PDF (21 MB)