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. 

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.


The COVID-19 pandemic poses extraordinary risks to the health of older adults and, upon contraction, has immediate consequences for individual well-being and, potentially, for mortality outcomes. However, aside from the detrimental health impacts of the disease itself, older people can experience other damaging outcomes as a result of strategies and discourses related to controlling and treating the virus. To view four short critical messages for policy and response formulation during the COVID-19 crisis, developed by the ICSG, please click here:

Scholarships available
Find out about our Postgraduate Scholarships here


Please click on this video to view some of the ageing related public-policy work and messages that our programme lectures are involved with.

Ageing and Public Policy flyer

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 a H2.1 undergraduate degree is required 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 or 2 year, part-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

1MEP1, 1MEP2

Course Outline

List of modules:

    1. Introduction to Ageing Studies and Policy
    2. International Policy and Ageing
    3. Social Exclusion and Inequalities in Later Life
    4. Data Management and Survey Techniques
    5. Dynamics of Ageing and Public Policy
    6. Health Systems and Policy Analysis
    7. Work, Pensions and Retirement
    8. Environmental Gerontology and Ageing in Place Policy
    9. Cost Benefit Analysis and Evaluation
    10. Law and Policy on Independent Living
    11. Legal Capacity Law and Policy
    12. Applied Research Project
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Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

Graduates will have in-depth analytical skills sets which will enhance their employability in general and age specific public policy organisations. Graduates are likely to find employment as policy analysts, managers and researchers in government and public bodies; policy and strategic planners in civil society organisations; service coordinators; senior staff in private age-related organisations. This course will serve as an excellent grounding to pursue a Ph D programme.

Unique Programme Internationally

Currently, there is no Master’s programme offering this specific topic in Ireland, and a lack of such programmes on ageing and policy in Europe. Typically, at a European level, existing programmes employ a general gerontological perspective and lack a public policy focus. This marks a substantial gap in programme development, and one that the College of Business, Public Policy and Law (CBPPL) is committed to addressing through its leadership on scholarship and teaching in this area.

Ageing represents a significant research theme within the College of Business, Public Policy and Law. This is reflected both in research output and research income. The programme is distinctive in its positioning within a research informed ageing and public policy pedagogical environment. Hosted by the ICSG, the programme will be linked directly to state-of-the-art research programmes, led by international experts (Kieran Walsh; Aine Ni Leime; Eamon O’Shea) in ageing and policy, with findings and experiences from these studies informing module content and approaches. In addition the programme is delivered in collaboration with international policy experts, such as (Nena Georgantzi, AGE Platform Europe; Patricia Conboy, HelpAge International.

J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics MSc Ageing and Public Policy Merit Scholarship

NUI Galway is offering two Scholarships for the Masters in Economics programmes.  MSc in Ageing and Public Policy students commencing September 2020 are eligible to apply for these scholarships.  One scholarship up to the value of 50% of the EU tuition fees and one scholarship up to the value of 50% of the non EU tuition fees.

For more information on the scholarship application process, please contact Please note that to be considered for this merit based scholarship, applicants must be accepted to their chosen programme, have achieved a H1 in their primary degree and must complete an online Scholarship Form. 

Who’s Suited to This Course

National, European and international students from public and social policy bachelor degree programmes from across commerce and economics, law, sociology, management, gender studies and psychology disciplines who wish to gain expertise and transferable skills in public policy, and in ageing.

Level 8 students from gerontological specific programmes in European universities, who wish to continue their ageing studies in an English-speaking and research-led interdisciplinary learning environment.

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

€6,600 p.a. 2020/21

Fees: Tuition

€6,376 p.a. 2020/21

Fees: Student levy

€224 p.a. 2020/21

Fees: Non EU

€16,500 p.a. 2020/21

Find out More

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

What policy experts and stakeholders say


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.
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.

Feedback from Industry:

Norah Keating

"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. "

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



  • Postgraduate Taught Prospectus 2020

    Postgraduate Taught Prospectus 2020 PDF (21 MB)

  • Ageing & Public Policy Flyer" alt="MSc Ageing and Public Policy Flyer"/>

    MSc Ageing and Public Policy Flyer PDF (21MB)