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Assisted and Independent Living


School - School of the Built Environment

Subject area - Built Environment

Start Dates(s): September


This is a new course starting from September 2015

MSc (three years part-time distance learning)
PgDip (two years part-time distance learning)
PgCert (one year part-time distance learning)


In Brief:

  • A unique course combining both health and built environment disciplines
  • Address the challenges in assisted and independent living
  • Study entirely online using our Virtual Learning Environment
  • Part-time study option
  • International students can apply

Course Summary

This course is a first of its kind which brings together the disciplines of the built environment including design, and health, to address societal challenges in assisted and independent living. We offer a radical re-think in how you can holistically work together with other professions to provide better built environment design and facilities, and improved care services that support these environments. We welcome students from any discipline and background. You can complete the full Masters or exit with a PgCert or PgDip.

Course Details

This course is delivered entirely online providing you with the opportunity to learn from, share and engage in critical debate with peers and colleagues both within the UK and internationally. You will be part of an online community of like-minded individuals who support and encourage each other to make a difference to the lives of people who will benefit from our improved understanding of assisted and independent living.

Our Virtual Learning Environment is easy and straightforward to use and basic computer understanding is all that is required. We will provide you with tutorial and technical support.

Course Structure

Postgraduate Certificate: two modules over one year (60 credits). Core modules are Inclusive Residential Environments and Designing for Accessibility and Inclusion. Depending on whether you start the PgCert in January or September determines which module you study first.

Postgraduate Diploma: four modules over two years (120 credits)

Masters: four modules plus a dissertation over three years (180 credits)

Year 1

This module focuses primarily on the home, recognising that ‘home’ has a broad meaning, and that beyond the home – into the neighbourhood is important too. You will explore both different theories and perspectives that shape the impact of the built environment on the individual and their capabilities, and how to use design strategies and other non design interventions in an inclusive way to support assisted and independent living.  The assignment is most likely the design of a new environment – if you are from a non-design background then drawing skills not required, other illustrative methods can be used instead.
This module helps you to understand how buildings and environments work. You will study the design process, design in practice, how to apply inclusive design to the built environment including assessing existing environments using a range of audit tools, and the importance of user engagement, and understanding how users interact with a building. No previous design / built environment knowledge is required. The assignment is most likely a critique of an existing environment.

Year 2

This module immerses you in assistive technology but we define this very broadly within the context of assisted and independent living. You will explore the wide range of technologies and consider how the design of technology can be both inclusive and exclusive. You will also evaluate how AT can enhance different person capabilities, whilst being mindful of ethical issues surrounding AT. Additionally, you will gaze to the future and suggest new directions for AT. The assignment is most likely a critique of an aspect of AT contextualized within assisted and independent living.
This module takes a step back and provides opportunity for you to set your learning within the broader context of people, disability and ageing. You will explore demographics, ageing communities (drawing upon the World Health Organisation Age Friendly Cities agenda), theoretical models which help explain disability and ageing and their relationship with the environment, legislation / policy / guidance, and the need for independent and supported living. The assignment is most likely a Think Piece on a perspective that you choose to suit your own learning.

Year 3

This module provides the opportunity for you to undertake a piece of research, on a subject of your choice within the context of assisted and independent living, and to write a research proposal, and a dissertation. The piece of research can be a systematic review of existing literature (so a desk-based study) or it can involve practical fieldwork evaluating an area of practice, or it can be a design critique. We anticipate that the outcomes from your research will be suggestions for how changes to theory and / or practice and / or policy may make a difference to people’s lives. We will further support you to write up your research findings for an appropriate practitioner journal, so that your research has impact, although this will not be a formal part of the assessment process, and it is completely optional.

Entry Requirements

An undergraduate degree from any discipline (2.2 or above) OR a professional qualification from any discipline OR APL (see below).

Salford Alternative Entry Scheme (SAES)

Accreditation of Prior Learning

We welcome applications from students who may not have formal/traditional entry criteria but who have relevant experience or the ability to pursue the course successfully.

The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process could help you to make your work and life experience count. The APL process can be used for entry onto courses or to give you exemptions from parts of your course.

Two types of APL may be used for entry: the Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) or the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).

English Language Requirements

Suitable For

We welcome applicants from all professions and this course is highly appropriate if you have an interest or background in: assisted, independent and supported living; ageing and the environment; ageing in place; built environments and design; architecture, planning and urban design; disability and rehabilitation.

Fees 2017-18

Type of StudyFee

Scholarships and Bursaries

We offer awards to help you study through our:

  • Vice-Chancellor's Excellence Scholarship
  • University of Salford student loyalty discount
  • Country bursary scheme for International students only

There are also other sources of funding available to you.

For more information please see our funding section.

Additional costs

You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing and binding.

The Postgraduate Bursaries and Scholarships for 2017-18 entry are currently under review and subject to change. A revised schedule of scholarships and bursaries will be published in Spring 2017.


Your study will take place online, and you will not be required to attend the University at any point. However, you will have full access to our online library resources and other student support services. Your online learning will take place in our Virtual Learning Environment called Blackboard. You will attend online lectures (typically one per week over a 12 week duration) in real-time and engage in tutor-led and peer-led discussions and learning. Additionally, there will be tutor-led support outside of these formal classes. The teaching style is interactive and participative.


The course utilises the concept of negotiated assessments which means that you will have a broad assignment brief from which you can focus the specifics of the assignment to meet your learning needs, your current interests and the needs of your workplace (if appropriate). Your tutor will ensure that your chosen focus has academic rigour and is equitable with the rest of your cohort;  There is one assignment per module. There are no examinations.

Postgraduate Staff Profile

The course is managed and taught by staff from both the School of the Built Environment, and the School of Health Sciences.

Marcus Ormerod is Professor and Director of the SURFACE Inclusive Design Research Centre within the School of the Built Environment.  As a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, and the National Register of Access Consultants, Marcus pioneered the development of teaching and research in inclusive design of the built environment within the UK. Further details at and

Rita Newton is a senior lecturer and member of the SURFACE Inclusive Design Research Centre within the School of the Built Environment. Rita’s specialism is environmental gerontology and developing our understanding of ageing and its relationship with the built environment. Further details at and

Rachel Russell is a full-time PhD student within the SURFACE Inclusive Design Research Centre, having been funded with a prestigious scholarship from the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Rachel is an occupational therapist particularly interested in built environments, design processes, and user activity / engagement. Further details at

Jo-Anne Mellson is senior lecturer and occupational therapist with the Directorate of Occupational Therapy, School of Health Sciences. Prior to moving into education, Jo has significant experience in physical disability including community rehabilitation, and workplace / ergonomic assessment. Further details.

Carol Bartley is lecturer and occupational therapist with the Directorate of Occupational Therapy, School of Health Sciences.

Deborah Davies is lecturer and occupational therapist with the Directorate of Occupational Therapy, School of Health Sciences.  Deborah has worked clinically in a variety of settings including general medicine, orthopaedics, cardiac rehabilitation, older people in the community, child psychiatry, learning disability, and equipment and adaptation services. Further details.


Career Prospects

The skills you will learn on this course will significantly improve your  existing practice in assisted and independent living, or your job prospects as someone who wants to enter the field as a newcomer.

Links with Industry

The course team has extensive links with industry, policy and practice, both within the built environment including design, and within health, and at a local, national, and international level. As a student on the course, you will benefit from up-to-date teaching and learning, underpinned by best practices drawn from both our research, and from our external links.

Further Study

Upon completion of the MSc, you will be eligible to apply for a research degree – either a PhD or a Professional Doctorate, both of which can be studied by distance learning  part-time or full-time.

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