School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Contemporary Issues in Ageing (PHCM9617)

PHCM9617 course image


The demographic ageing of populations worldwide is accelerating, with significant implications for individuals and society. Current public health approaches have failed to adequately meet the challenges associated with population ageing, and a comprehensive global public health response is required to transform systems to better meet population needs. This course presents students with the public health framework for action on ageing and health promoted by the World Health Organization. Students will be challenged to consider: ways in which healthy ageing can be fostered; how health care systems can be better aligned to the care of older populations; long-term care models which reflect older-person-centred care; and the creation of enabling environments. The course is underpinned by the concepts of intrinsic capacity and functional ability. Students are offered an optimistic view of population ageing, and will be equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to take action to improve the health and wellbeing of older people. This course maintains an international focus and is relevant to high, middle and low income countries.

Credit points

This course is an elective course in the postgraduate programs within the School of Public Health and Community Medicine, comprising six units of credit towards the total required for completion of the study program. It is also a stream defining course for the Master of Public Health specialisation in Ageing and Health.

Mode of study

This course is offered in two modes: 1) either face-to-face classes on-campus for Internal students, and 2) fully online for Distance External students.

Course aim

This course aims to provide students with a public health framework for action to meet the needs, challenges and opportunities arising from population ageing.

Course Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course students will be able to:

  • explain the concepts of healthy ageing, intrinsic capacity, and functional ability;
  • identify opportunities for public health action across the life course, relating these to the trajectories of healthy ageing;
  • describe the shortcomings of current health care systems, and identify features of health care systems better aligned with the care needs of older populations;
  • describe the current shortcomings in long term care provision, and describe the features of an integrated system of long term care; and
  • discuss the features of an age-friendly world, and explain the role of the environment in optimizing functional ability.
Teaching strategies

For internal students, this course entails a “flipped classroom approach” which means that students are expected to carefully read the relevant material in the course text, and to listen (podcasts), watch (video resources) or read the related additional learning resources in Moodle before each tutorial class. This means that students will come to class with a core level of basic knowledge. This allows the time together to be used to discuss and debate aspects of the topic, and to achieve a greater level of understanding than would otherwise be the case. It offers students the opportunity to draw upon the knowledge, skills and experiences of others in the class.

External students will read the relevant material in the course text and listen, watch or read the related additional learning resources in Moodle, before attempting the tutorial forum activities online.

An online Q&A forum will allow internal and external students to ask questions about the course.


Assessment Task 1 - Contemporary Issue in Aging (preparation)
Weighting: 25%
Length: 700 words

Assessment Task 2 - Contemporary Issue in Aging (final report)
Weighting: 50%
Length: 2500 words

Assessment Task 3 - Tutorials or Online Forums
Weighting: 25%