Course Overview

Driven By Commitment

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.

Course Outline

List of modules:

  • Introduction to Ageing Studies and Policy
  • International Policy and Ageing
  • Social Exclusion and Inequalities in Later Life
  • Data Management and Survey Techniques
  • Dynamics of Ageing and Public Policy
  • Health Systems and Policy Analysis
  • Work, Pensions and Retirement
  • Environmental Gerontology and Ageing in Place Policy
  • Cost Benefit Analysis and Evaluation
  • Law and Policy on Independent Living
  • Legal Capacity Law and Policy
  • Applied Research Project

Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

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

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.

Who’s Suited To This Course

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.

What policy experts and stakeholders say

  • 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.

    Prof. Thomas Scharf Professor of Social Gerontology, Newcastle University
  • 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.

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

    Anne-Sophie Parent Secretary General, AGE Platform Europe
  • 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, International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics
  • 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

    Dr. Alexandre Sidorenko Senior Advisor, European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research, and former Head of UN Programme on Ageing
  • 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.

    Robert Anderson Head of Unit, Social Policies, Eurofound
  • Dr. Kieran Walsh Director

    Kieran Walsh is Professor of Ageing & Public Policy and Director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology (ICSG), National University of Ireland Galway. Kieran has extensive experience in ageing and public policy and interdisciplinary social gerontology research and has published extensively within the field of ageing. Before taking up the role of Director of the ICSG, he served as Project Director of Project Lifecourse within the Institute for Lifecourse and Society, a €1.5 million three-year programme of work dedicated to capturing the subjective realities of children and youth, older people and people with disabilities in their neighbourhoods and communities. With a track record of working closely with senior levels of public policy and professional practice, Kieran is focused on translating research into real-world impact and integrating this experience in the design of impactful research and teaching programmes. He has played a leading role in the development of international multi-site and interdisciplinary research studies. Kieran’s research interests and expertise focus on: social exclusion in later life; the relative nature of disadvantage in cross-national contexts; place and life-course transitions; and informal and formal infrastructures of care. Kieran is also Chair of the European COST Action CA15122 on ‘Reducing Old-Age Social Exclusion’ (ROSEnet –, which has over 180 members from 41 different countries. With objectives that address critical gaps in research, policy, and international interdisciplinary research capacity, ROSEnet aims to overcome fragmentation in conceptual innovation on old-age exclusion across the life course, in order to address the research-policy disconnect and tackle social exclusion amongst older people.

  • Dr Áine Ní Léime Deputy Director

    Dr. Áine Ní Léime is Deputy Director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology. She has a PhD in Sociology and Social Policy from the University of Dublin, Trinity College. She is currently P.I. for the Irish strand of an EU (NORFACE) funded cross-national project, Dynamics of Accumulated Inequalities for Seniors in Employment (DAISIE) running from 2018-2021 involving colleagues from the Cech Republic, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. While her recent research focuses on gender, employment, pensions and older workers, she has research expertise in creativity and ageing, leisure, volunteering and ageing.  She completed a Marie Sklodowska Curie International Outgoing  Fellowship (2015 – 2018) spending two years in Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio (mentor Professor Dale Dannefer) and a final year at NUI Galway. She was PI of this EU-funded cross-national study entitled Gender, Older Workers and the Lifecourse (GENDOWL) – a comparative, qualitative study on gender and extended working life using an innovative life-course approach. She was Chairperson of COST Action IS1409 a research network: Gender, Health and the impact of Extended Working Life Policies in Western Countries for which she was the main proposer. The COST Action ran from April 2015 to April, 2019.

  • Eamon O’Shea
    Eamon O’Shea Lecturer

    Eamon O’Shea is a Personal Professor in the School of Business & Economics and was inaugural Director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology (ICSG) at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He is currently Director of the National Centre for Social Research on Dementia at NUI Galway. He holds an M.A. from University College Dublin, an M.Sc. from the University of York and a Ph.D from the University of Leicester. He has published over 100 scientific papers in refereed journals, including publications in top-ranked journals such as the Journal of Health Economics, Social Science and Medicine, Age and Ageing, Ageing and Society, Health Policy and the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Professor O’Shea has authored/co-authored 15 books and monographs, mainly in the field of ageing, dementia and social policy. His work has been influential in setting the agenda for the reform of services and policies for people with dementia in Ireland. He was Chair of the National Economic and Social Forum Expert Group on Care of the Elderly in 2005/06 and co-authored the influential Creating Excellence in Dementia Care report in 2012. He is currently a member of the Implementation Group for the Irish National Dementia Strategy.

  • Patricia Conboy
    Patricia Conboy Lecturer

    Patricia Conboy is Head of Global Ageing, Advocacy and Campaigns with HelpAge International, the secretariat to a global network of organisations advancing the right of all older people to lead dignified, healthy and secure lives. Patricia leads a team promoting age-inclusive policy and practice through providing thought leadership, technical advice, advocacy and campaigning tools and including the voices of older people in our work. Prior to joining HelpAge in 2016, Patricia was director of Older & Bolder, a national alliance of NGOs campaigning for older people’s rights in Ireland.

  • Nena Georgantzi
    Nena Georgantzi Lecturer

    Nena Georgantzi, Policy Coordinator Human Rights & Non-Discrimination, AGE Platform Europe and PhD Fellow, National University of Ireland Galway. Nena has been working for 10 years for AGE Platform Europe (AGE), the largest EU network of older people’s organisations, where she leads policy and advocacy on human rights at EU and international level. She has been involved in the drafting of the 2014 Council of Europe recommendation on the rights of older persons and in the ongoing political process around a new UN convention on the rights of older persons. She is member of the Steering Group of the Global Alliance of the Rights of Older Persons and has acted as a consultant for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, covering issues of ageing and of disability. As PhD fellow with the National University of Ireland in Galway (NUIG) Nena is finalizing the first empirical study on the meaning of human rights for older persons and the added value of a new treaty. She has authored several articles and chapters on human rights and ageing and speaks regularly in expert meetings and conferences. Nena is a law graduate with postgraduate degrees in human rights (MA, Université de Strasbourg, France) and social protection (MA, KU Leuven, Belgium). She is also a registered lawyer under the Thessaloniki Bar in Greece.

  • Dr Maeve O’Rourke
    Dr Maeve O’Rourke Lecturer

    Dr Maeve O’Rourke, PhD (Birmingham), LLM (Harvard), BCL (University College Dublin) is Lecturer in Human Rights Law and Programme Director of the BCL Law and Human Rights, a newly established undergraduate degree programme at NUI Galway. Maeve’s research interests are primarily in the development of the rule against torture and ill-treatment, human rights protections in institutional and care contexts, access to justice and redress for systemic and so-called ‘historical’ human rights abuses, and human rights research and advocacy methods. She was awarded her PhD (entitled ‘Older People, Dignity and Human Rights: Towards the Development of the Rule against Torture and Ill-treatment in International Human Rights Law’) in 2018 from Birmingham Law School where she was supervised by Professor Fiona de Londras and Professor Rosie Harding. Between 2015 and 2017 Maeve was a Visiting Scholar and Occasional Lecturer at University College Dublin School of Law where she established a Human Rights Clinic for LLM and MSc Human Rights students and co-taught an undergraduate Social Inclusion Law Clinic.

  • Maureen Maloney
    Maureen Maloney Lecturer

    Maureen Maloney is a lecturer at NUIG. Her teaching interests include Reward Systems, Business Communication and Human Resource Management. She is completing her PhD on the topic of occupational pensions, using a bounded rationality framework to evaluate the effectiveness of communication policies in promoting reasoned individual pension decisions. Maureen is a member of the Pension Policy Research Group at Trinity College and the European Network for Research on Supplementary Pensions. She has organised numerous conferences for pension policy topics.