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Ageing societies and global health

Global health and ageing societies are enduring social issues in our increasingly interdependent world. Using carefully selected case studies from across the world, wherever you live, this online module will deepen your understanding of the relationship between ageing societies and global health. You will learn about the opportunities and challenges ageing societies bring at individual, societal and global levels, particularly around health, healthcare, and health and social care. Whether you are in paid or unpaid work, or studying for personal or career development, this module will help you develop transferable skills that will be invaluable in many different roles.

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OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU module levels correspond to these frameworks.
2 9 5
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Entry requirements

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What you will study

This an online module consisting of four ‘blocks’ of study, each of which comprises four learning guides which will support your study of the global dimensions of ageing societies.

Block 1: Do ageing societies come with a global health warning?
The first block will help you to deepen your understanding of ageing societies and global health by introducing you to key theoretical concepts such as the demographic transition and biological and social aspects of ageing. You will explore the ways in which population ageing is often framed as a crisis and begin to develop your own ideas about the implications of population ageing.

Block 2: Experiencing population ageing across the life course
In this block you will explore the effects of ageing populations on younger and older people, since ageing populations affect us all across our life courses. You will focus particularly in the diversity across the globe in how ageing populations affect societies and individuals, and also on diversity within societies such as gender differences in the effects of population ageing.  
Block 3: Opportunities and challenges of ageing societies – a global health perspective
This block explores some of the key opportunities and challenges for ageing societies at individual, societal and global levels around the delivery of healthcare, health and social care. You will also see how these opportunities and challenges vary within different social, economic and cultural contexts.

Block 4: Adapting ageing societies in an era of global health
Ageing societies mean that societies need to adapt if we are to continue to improve global health. This final block is dedicated to pulling together the material presented so far in the module to focus on the core theme of adaption. Both individual and societal adaptation will be explored in relation to ways in which societies across the world can address the health needs of their ageing populations.

You will learn

This module provides you with an insight into contemporary and emerging debates about ageing societies and global health. Specifically, the module encourages you to explore and engage with:
  • the opportunities and challenges of population ageing, particularly living with multiple, complex health conditions, now and in the future
  • the impact of ageing societies on health differences globally
  • how equality can be promoted in the context of ageing societies 
  • the significance of ageing societies across the life course
Your learning will take place through a series of online learning guides via the module website. The learning guides provide a structured environment where you engage with academic readings, websites, journal articles, audio clips and a range of other learning elements that constitute the combined teaching material for the module.

Outside the UK

All module materials will be online. UK students only will be sent printed versions of the module readings.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material, mark and comment on your written work, and offer advice and guidance. There are regular OU Live online tutorials where you can meet virtually with other students and tutors. There will also be an OU Live online introductory event to get you off to a good start. You will also benefit from a Study Forum which is made up of just a few tutors and their groups of students, where you can work together on the module materials and discuss general issues around the topics.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.
You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

Future availability

Ageing societies starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that starts in October 2019 when we expect it to be presented for the last time.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Course work includes:

    5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
    End-of-module assessment
    No residential school

    Entry requirements

    This module is suitable for a general audience but is likely to be particularly suitable for you if you have already studied K101 and K118 at level 1 and K213 or K217 at level 2. If you are already working or planning for a career in the fields of health, mental health, global health, ageing, or global health and ageing, you are likely to find the materials particularly relevant. This module is also suitable for people with a more general interest in the topics of the module.

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.


    Start End England fee Register
    05 Oct 2019 Jun 2020 £3012.00

    Registration closes 12/09/19 (places subject to availability)

    October 2019 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

    Additional Costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a computer, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

    Ways to pay for this module

    Open University Student Budget Account

    The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

    You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

    • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
    • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

    Joint loan applications

    If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

    As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

    Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

    Employer sponsorship

    Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU courses are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to complete. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

    More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

    • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
    • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your module.  

    Credit/debit card

    You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

    We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron. 

    Mixed payments

    We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).

    For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or book a call back at a time convenient to you.

    Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2020. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 21/07/2019.

    What's included

    You will work through the module using online learning guides via the website along with module readings audio-visual material and internet resources. The module printed readings are also available in print. 

    You will also have access to teaching and library resources through the website. Electronic versions of the printed study materials are also provided on the website.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • Mac OS X 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

    If you have a disability

    The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying K242 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

    To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our Disability support website.