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MARE510 Healthy Ageing: Theoretical Foundation

Course description for academic year 2021/2022

Contents and structure

This course aims at introducing the theoretical foundations of healthy ageing by increasing the contextual sensitivity and comparative understanding of health and wellbeing issues relevant for older persons living in different contexts. Health and ageing are critically appraised through discussion of capability, functioning and participation and the social determinants of health. Different theoretical perspectives on healthy ageing and rehabilitation will be presented, i.e. the healthy ageing framework, ICF, critical gerontology, critical disability studies, relational sociology, anthropology of health and illness, health promotion, and new materialism. Policy development on supranational level will be discussed in relation to local and national contexts. Students will be engaged in discussions of how the global changes towards societies of longevity, impact older adults in their everyday living. Students will take part in critical appraisals of drivers and barriers towards older adults’ possibilities for engagement in their community, work-life or in their families throughout their lifetime. The course will address threats to healthy ageing with global relevance, such as ageism, ableism, and other discrimination, vulnerabilities, and socio-economic inequalities in health, as well as resources for healthy ageing as capabilities, such as capabilities, resilience, diversity, migration, multiculturalism and sustainability. Thus, a critical reflection on healthy ageing will be promoted, as well as on its implications for wellbeing and participation of older people in a global perspective.

Learning Outcome

A student who has completed the course should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:
The student...

  • has advanced knowledge on global demographic trends and expectations on ageing in various countries and contexts
  • has in-depth knowledge on ageing in a historical and socio-cultural perspective
  • has advanced knowledge on the impact of physical, sensory and psychological/mental changes and of conditions of ageing
  • has in-depth comparative knowledge of the socio-economic, political and institutional conditions for health promotion in ageing
  • has advanced knowledge of social theories of ageing
  • has in-depth, comparative knowledge of some innovations in health and social care policies, systems, and services for older adults
  • has thorough knowledge of the social resources in ageing populations, and the role of civil society

The student...

  • can critically reflect on how age, ageing and care of the older adults are socially constructed, and about the implications for health promotion strategies (e.g. care, participation and healthy ageing etc.)
  • can critically compare, contrast and analyse living conditions, resources and needs for older adults in different environments and contexts in a life-course perspective
  • can critically compare, contrast and analyse policies, services for and participation of older adults at a personal, community- and societal level
  • can critically and holistically assess older adults needs for participation and/or services at various levels of care, from health promotion to rehabilitation
  • can summarise and compare current and future needs for promoting health, wellbeing and participation for older adults with different degrees of frailty and in different contexts
  • can use acquired knowledge for proposing and carrying out interventions

General competence:
The student...

  • can understand ageing as a complex, multidimensional phenomenon
  • can critically apply comparative, contextual understanding of health and social care issues relevant for promoting healthy ageing of older persons living in a global world
  • can critically apply and communicate knowledge on the impact of ageing on individuals, families, communities and populations through advocacy and health promoting interventions in a variety of contexts
  • can critically apply their understanding of the diversity of resourcefulness and of frailty in ageing persons, to advocate for and contribute to investment policies and innovative initiatives for older persons, including those belonging to vulnerable groups

Recommended previous knowledge


Teaching methods

  • Synchronous and asynchronous online sessions
  • Reading activities
  • On-campus meeting
  • Individual and group work, online and on-campus (blended)
  • Feedback and supervision

Compulsory learning activities

The course requirements must be fulfilled in order to take the exam:

  1. 80% participation during compulsory learning activities/assignments (synchronous and asynchronous)
  2. Individual and group work

Fulfilled course requirements are valid for four subsequent semesters. 


A written, individual term paper, 4000 words +/- 10%

Grading scale
The grading scale used is A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade in the grading scale, grade F is a fail.

New exam
When the grade F (not passed) is given, the students can improve their term paper and hand it in for the new exam.

Examination support material

No limitations

More about examination support material