You are viewing information for England.  Change country.

Ageing societies and global health

Qualification dates
Start End

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.

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.

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.

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 readings are also available in print. 

You will also have access to teaching and library resources through the website. Electronic versions of the 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.

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 Adobe Connect online tutorials where you can meet virtually with other students and tutors. There will also be an Adobe Connect 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).

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.

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.

Course work includes:

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