Healthy Musculoskeletal Ageing MRes

  • Programme duration: Full-time: 12 months  
  • Programme start: September 2022
  • Entry requirements: You will need an undergraduate First Class or 2:1 Honours degree in a related biological science or clinical degree. Intercalating students are welcome to apply.
Musculoskeletal Ageing mres

Module details

Due to the impact of COVID-19 we're changing how the course is delivered

Ageing in the integrated musculoskeletal system (20 credits)

This module focuses on the biology of musculoskeletal (muscle, tendon, bone and joint) ageing and methods of studying ageing within the integrated musculoskeletal system.  The module employs a variety of learning approaches including directed and enquiry-led learning (Curriculum 2021 hallmarks).  It is delivered via online lectures, directed-reading, tutorial discussions, self-directed, and reflection.  Learning is facilitated by research-focused tutors and individual grant mentors.  Students will develop a critical approach to current understanding of the biology of musculoskeletal ageing and current theories of ageing.  In addition to a broad knowledge of appropriate techniques and approaches for studying musculoskeletal ageing, within the context of the integrated musculoskeletal system, approaches for current and emerging treatment will also be addressed.  Knowledge is consolidated and practically applied in the identification of a research question and submission of a simulated application to the Medical Research Council, thereby providing the student with the skills and knowledge to draft a grant proposal to Research Council specifications.

Biology of ageing (20 credits)

This module aims to provides an overview on current thinking on why ageing is observed in almost all organisms, what factors influence the rate of ageing and the key mechanisms of ageing. The module will include an introduction to the role of intrinsic and extrinsic stresses in generating molecular damage within cells, the broad principles defining the network of cellular defences against stress-induced damage, and the current understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms of ageing. As ageing involves multiple biochemical and cellular mechanisms affecting multiple tissues, the emphasis will be on building a thorough understanding of why adopting an integrative, systems approach is essential. The module aims to provide a critical platform to judge the efficacy of potential interventions which may include pharmacological, nutritional and physical.

Nutrition, physical activity and lifestyle interventions for Healthy Ageing (20 credits)

This module aims to:

a) introduce students to the basic principles of nutrition and the relevance of nutrition to healthy ageing.  The module covers dietary constituents, energy & nutrient handling, assessment of nutritional status, energy balance and the dietary determinants of disease.  All material will be taught with an emphasis on ageing.  

b) equip students with the key theoretical and practical knowledge and skills that underpin successful exercise prescription in order to optimise musculoskeletal health. Students will critically review theoretical perspectives in terms of physiology and exercise science in light of exercise prescription across a range of lifestyle and disease states and physical activity promotion/policy. This module will also enable students to reflect upon your own delivery and current climate within exercise science and prescription.             

The module is delivered through lectures accessed through e-learning, tutorials and directed independent study.

Empirical Research Project (includes skills training) (120 credits)

The module takes place over several months which allows students to develop and conduct an in-depth empirical research project on a specific aspect musculoskeletal (muscle, tendon, bone and joint) ageing relevant to their own area of interest.  The teaching approach relies upon research-led and enquiry-based learning with authentic assessments in the form of scientific reports, oral and poster presentations, and a reflective skills portfolio (hallmarks of Curriculum 2021). Students will become full members of a research group and take advantage of first-class facilities and active research environment available in the Department of Musculoskeletal Biology and Ageing in the Institute of Life Course and Medical Sciences.   The opportunity to undertake a placement allows students to widen their network and gain additional experience of techniques and applications not available in the University.  Workshops, individual Training Needs Analyses and skills portfolio and opportunities to personalise skill progression and support the development of employability and research skills.

Examples of project approaches include cell culture models of inflammation and ageing; molecular and genetic analyses e.g. miRNA as therapeutic targets; computer modelling; intervention studies e.g. role of vitamin D; impact of mechanical loading; gait and locomotor ability; epigenetics and ageing; bioinformatics.