Arthritis Research UK Medical Research Council

CIMA MRes Musculoskeletal Ageing



This unique full-time, 12-month programme provides multidisciplinary research training on the musculoskeletal system as a whole in the context of ageing. The training has a strong focus on employability and topics range from basic science to clinical aspects, from in vitro to in vivo models, and from the latest advances in the assessment of the musculoskeletal system to lifestyle interventions.

The course is designed for candidates with a first class or upper-second class undergraduate honours degree in a relevant biological science or clinical degree, or candidates with a Master’s degree in a similar relevant subject. We also welcome intercalating medical students and candidates from other backgrounds (e.g. engineering, mathematics, computing) who can demonstrate an aptitude for the biological sciences. 

CIMA MRes graduates will be well placed to choose from a wide range of career options, within clinical practice, academia, or within the commercial/private sector. Upon completion, students will be equipped to embark on further research in musculoskeletal ageing in industry or academia and may be able to continue their studies by registering for a CIMA PhD in Musculoskeletal Ageing.

In Semester 1, taught modules are delivered by e-learning, including live interactions with tutors and peers, online lectures and presentations and discussion forums. You will supplement this online component via self-directed learning.

The research module in Semester 2 provides students with the opportunity to apply their knowledge to a project under the expertise of supervisors based across the CIMA consortium. You will be based primarily at a single CIMA site, but will have the opportunity to undertake a placement at another, ensuring that your multidisciplinary skills training is specific to your needs.

Throughout the course you will have the chance to take part in seminars, workshops, and networking events, including the CIMA Annual meeting.

You can apply for the CIMA MRes programme by clicking on the links below.

University of Liverpool              University of Liverpool             University of Liverpool


Taught modules

Biology of ageing (20 credits)

This module provides a framework for understanding why ageing occurs in almost all organisms and why it is particularly slow in humans. You will develop a critical approach to:

  • Understanding the essential mechanisms of ageing.
  • Identifying the role of intrinsic and extrinsic stress in ageing.
  • Judging the efficacy of potential interventions.
  • Applying the mechanisms of ageing to the physiological processes in humans and other organisms.
  • The development of theories in ageing research
  • Current and likely future trends in ageing research

Principles of nutrition: relevance to ageing (10 credits)

The aim of this module is to provide you with core knowledge of nutritional principles, focusing on nutrition and ageing and including:

  • Dietary components.
  • Dietary reference values.
  • Inadequacy and excess.
  • Nutritional assessment methods.
  • Energy balance.
  • Metabolic rate.
  • Regulation of food intake.
  • Appetite.
  • The fundamentals of nutritional epidemiology.

The module will provide you with dietary and nutritional assessment skills and the ability to critically analyse and interpret nutritional information.

Biology and assessment of skeletal health (10 credits)

The aim of this module is to provide you with knowledge of the basic anatomy of joint and bone and of bone formation and resorption. This is the basis on which you will build more specialised and cutting-edge knowledge of control (or loss of it, with age) of bone and joint homeostasis. This knowledge will allow you to identify the right experimental procedures to assess skeletal health and to critically evaluate interventions to prevent or delay skeletal ageing.

Muscle in the integrated musculoskeletal system (20 credits)

This module involves taking a critical approach to current theories of muscle ageing. You will develop a broad knowledge of appropriate techniques and approaches for studying muscle ageing within the context of an integrated musculoskeletal system. You will consolidate and apply this knowledge in a practical context by identifying a research question and writing a simulated grant application, developing your skills in drafting a proposal to Research Council specifications.

Research Project (and skills training) (120 credits)

Your research project is a major element of the course and involves 24 weeks of research in an area of musculoskeletal ageing. Supervision is by expert academic researchers in your field of interest. You will be based in your home institution, but able to take advantage of the range of expertise and facilities within the CIMA partnership by undertaking a placement in one of the other two institutions, working with co-supervisors and learning new techniques.

Example research projects

Project title


Analysis of epigenetic changes in osteoclastogenesis in ageing.

Dr Anna Daroszewska (Liverpool), Professor Rob van ‘t Hof (Liverpool), Dr Louise Reynard (Newcastle), Professor John Loughlin (Newcastle)

Step turns versus spin turns in the elderly: ecology and mechanics.

Dr Kris D’Aout (Liverpool), Dr Karl Bates (Liverpool), Professor Robin Crompton (Liverpool), Dr Enrico Dall’Ara (Sheffield)

Impact of pain on physical activity and measures of musculoskeletal function in obese people with knee osteoarthritis.

Professor John Mathers (Newcastle), Dr Nicola O’Brien (née Hobbs) (Newcastle), Professor Daniel Cuthbertson (Liverpool)

Mechanical stretching induced DNA repair, promoter occupancy and cytoskeletal remodelling in mouse myoblasts.

Dr Lesley Iwanejko (Liverpool), Dr Brian McDonagh (Liverpool), Dr Vanja Pekovic-Vaughan (Liverpool), Dr Neil Chapman (Sheffield)

Measurement of gait-related postural control in older adults using a single body worn sensor.

Dr Brook Galna (Newcastle), Professor Claudia Mazzà (Sheffield), Professor Lynn Rochester (Newcastle)

Studying the role of microRNAs in muscle and cartilage homeostasis using CRISPR.

Dr Katarzyna Whysall (Liverpool), Professor George Bou-Gharios (Liverpool), Professor David Young (Newcastle)

Investigation of the translational capacity of musculoskeletal cells in ageing.

Professor Mandy Peffers (Liverpool), Dr Kate Williamson (Liverpool), Professor Alison Gartland (Sheffield)

Accelerated sarcopenia in obese individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus: Does it simply reflect increased sedentary behaviour and reduced physical activity, or do other mechanisms explain it?

Professor Daniel Cuthbertson (Liverpool), Dr Tori Sprung (Liverpool), Professor Graham Kemp (Liverpool), Professor Michael Trenell (Newcastle)

Does macrophage depletion prevent load-induced osteoarthritis?

Dr Gaynor Miller (Sheffield), Professor Alison Gartland (Sheffield), Dr Blandine Poulet (Liverpool)

Do changes in microRNA expression in musculoskeletal tissues during ageing have functional relevance?

Dr Katarzyna Whysall (Liverpool), Professor Peter Clegg (Liverpool), Professor Mandy Peffers (Liverpool), Professor David Young (Newcastle)

For further information, including on modes of assessment and fees and funding information: