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Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders (MSc)

MSc | Postgraduate Taught

Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders

Entry year
Entry requirements
3 years (Part Time)
Places available
TBC (Part Time)
This course is now closed to applications for September 2021. If you are interested in September 2022 entry, please register your interest.
  • Overview

    This multi-disciplinary programme is designed to enable substance use professionals, mental health workers, social workers, nurses and workers from allied health and social care sectors to gain an understanding of substance use disorders, including definitions, UK and international contexts and the application of theory in practice.

    The MSc in Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders will build upon the knowledge gained in the PG Certificate and PG Diploma programmes and will enable the candidates to enhance critical thinking skills, utilise methods of reflective analysis, and consider individual, multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary team working within the sector.

    In addition, candidates will be supervised in writing a thesis on their chosen project and will be facilitated in identifying aims and objectives, appraising of relevant literature, utilising methods for data collection, analysis of data and compilation of findings and conclusions with recommendations.

    Expert commentators in the addictions sector (Galvani 2011, 2010) have underlined that practitioners are not equipped with knowledge and skills base required to work with clients who have complex issues relevant to substance use. In order to obtain the best possible outcomes for practice, workers must engage effectively in a collaborative manner with colleagues from allied health and social care professions and in doing so develop their confidence and professional value base as practitioners, whilst recognising the underpinning work ethos and ethical base of professionals from related disciplines.

    The programme of study will develop practitioner confidence and skills in the complex areas of substance use and substance use disorders. Candidates will be afforded the opportunity to take each of the three modules of the programme of study as a stand-alone module (20 credits). Alternatively, students can complete six modules (three from the PG Certificate in SUDs and a further three credits from the PG Dip programme and thereby obtain the PG Diploma in Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders.

    The Master's in Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders by thesis will allow the candidates to develop their research and project development skills and subsequently enable them to add to the body of primary research knowledge on a regional and national basis.

    Please note that this course is not eligible for a Tier 4 visa.

    Closing date for applications: Friday 30 July 2021 at 4pm. Late applications may be considered.

    Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders highlights

    For all candidates it provides the opportunity to enhance specific research and project development skills within a multi-disciplinary teaching environment.

    Career Development

    • Professional Development For all multi-disciplinary applicants the programmes offer relevant CPD opportunities as well as recognised qualifications accredited by the University which will augment their professional development and enhance the development of further opportunities in their chosen field of practice.

    Student Experience

    • The programme leader and lecturers have developed and nurtured subject proficiency via their own practice, teaching and research in relation to their specialist area. They impart this trilateral expertise to the students via teaching on the Master's programme.
    "The Master's in Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders provides graduates from a range of social and health care professions with a variety of opportunities to develop their specific areas of learning and skills in practice. Increasingly, our graduates operate within teams which consist of workers from a range of professional backgrounds and there is a need to hone skills and knowledge which are relevant to the multi-disciplinary environment."

    Dr Anne Campbell, Programme Director
  • Course content

    Course Structure

    The MSc in Substance Use and Substance use Disorders is a modular Masters programme whereby students can complete the PG Certificate in Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders and have the option to enrol on the PG Diploma and subsequently to enrol on a Masters by thesis module.

    The PG Diploma in Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders is awarded to students who successfully complete six 20 credit taught modules. The Master's in Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders programme is a 60 credit research by thesis module.

    Course DetailsCore Modules
    (Dissertation research module (60 CATS points)
    Semester One
    September 2021 (1.5 days)
    Overview of the module and assessment requirements.
    Overview of the process of audit, service evaluation, and empirical research.
    Introduction to main types of studies and appropriate designs.
    Identifying topics for a review of research, audit, service evaluation or empirical research.
    Applying for ethical approval.

    October 2021 (2 days)
    Introduction to the library and web-based resources.
    Accessing electronic books, journals and databases.
    Writing a search strategy. Defining inclusion / exclusion criteria for the literature review.
    Identifying and understanding research papers and how to critically appraise literature.
    Writing a project proposal.

    December 2021 (1 day)
    Brief oral presentation of aims, search strategy and protocol.
    Peers and supervisors to give informal feedback on oral presentation.
    Submit written outline of search strategy, research question and approach to be used (e.g. literature review, service evaluation, audit, qualitative research or quantitative research).
    Academic supervisor to give written feedback on written submission.

    Semester Two
    All students to attend one of the following 10 CAT MRes modules (audit only – no assessment)
    Quantitative data analysis (5 x Mondays in January/February 1700-1900 hours) 15 hours
    Qualitative data analysis (Saturday in February for 6 hours and Friday in March for 2 hours) 8 hours

    February 2022 (1 day)
    Methods for conducting, screening and presenting systematic/scoping/narrative reviews.
    Introduction to programmes for screening and managing results (e.g. Rayyan QCRI, Mendeley, etc)

    April 2022 (1 day)
    How to write up and disseminate your findings (e.g. dissertation, publication in peer-reviewed journal or poster or oral presentation).

    September 2022
    Submission of 12,000 word dissertation to be marked by academic staff and agency staff.

    People teaching you

    Dr Anne Campbell
    Programme Director and Assistant Director of Postgraduate Studies


    Career Prospects

    Continuing professional registration in all areas of health and social care is predicated on continuing professional development.

    The Dept. of Health has highlighted that health, social care workers and social workers demonstrate their competence covered in the curricula of the Master's in Substance and Substance Use Disorders programme.

    Learning and Teaching

    Learning opportunities available with this course are outlined below:

    Cognitive skills

    Teaching and learning methods to achieve Cognitive Skills are commensurate with adult learning theory and entail formal lecturing, student led learning, online interaction, seminars and workshops.


    Assessments associated with this course are outlined below:

    Assessment methods include written assignments case study material based on candidates’ practice.

    A variety of assessment methods for the Diploma will be used including written assignments, a reflective analysis on how the student applies relevant theory to their practice in two different cases and an assignment critically reflecting on how the student has enhanced the practice of colleagues drawing on the knowledge in this module.


    The Graduate School

  • Entry Requirements

    Entrance requirements

    Normally a 2.2 Honours degree or above or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University in a relevant subject. Equivalent qualifications include the Pre-2007 Post-Qualifying Award in Social Work.

    Social workers seeking entry to the programme must:

    a) Be registered with the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC);

    b) Hold an Honours Degree in Social Work (2.2 or equivalent), Diploma in Social Work, CSS, CQSW or predecessor equivalent. Social Workers trained outside of NISCC jurisdiction must produce a letter of comparability with these awards or a letter of verification issued by NISCC;

    c) Have completed the Assessed Year in Practice or have at least one year post- qualifying experience if graduated prior to the AYE implementation.

    Non social workers seeking entry to the programme must:

    a) Have two years’ experience of working with clients who have experienced substance use or mental health issues.

    Applicants who do not satisfy the above but who are holders of an equivalent approved professional qualification or work experience will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

    Closing date for applications: Friday 30th July 2021 at 4pm.

    Late applications may be considered.

    International Students

    For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.

    English Language Requirements

    Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required. *Taken within the last 2 years.

    International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.

    For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see:

    If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.

    • Academic English: an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level
    • Pre-sessional English: a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.

    INTO - English Language Course(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)

  • Fees and Funding

    Tuition Fees

    Northern Ireland (NI) 1 £6,450
    Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 £6,450
    England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 £7,250
    EU Other 3 £17,700
    International £17,700

    1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled or pre-settled status, are expected to be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly Student Fees Regulations. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB are expected to be charged the GB fee, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.

    2 It is expected that EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI will be eligible for NI tuition fees, in line with the Common Travel Agreement arrangements. The tuition fee set out above is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.

    3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.

    All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2021-22, and relate to a single year of study unless stated otherwise. Tuition fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

    More information on postgraduate tuition fees.

    Additional course costs

    All Students

    Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies.

    Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £75 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges.

    Students undertaking a period of work placement or study abroad, as either a compulsory or optional part of their programme, should be aware that they will have to fund additional travel and living costs.

    If a programme includes a major project or dissertation, there may be costs associated with transport, accommodation and/or materials. The amount will depend on the project chosen. There may also be additional costs for printing and binding.

    Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen.

    There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

    Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders costs

    Additional Costs default message entry 2191

    How do I fund my study?

    The Department for the Economy will provide a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 per NI / EU student for postgraduate study. Tuition fee loan information.

    A postgraduate loans system in the UK offers government-backed student loans of up to £10,609 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas. Criteria, eligibility, repayment and application information are available on the UK government website.

    More information on funding options and financial assistance.

    International Scholarships

    Information on scholarships for international students, is available at

  • Apply

    How to Apply

    Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.

    Apply now

    When to Apply

    The deadline for applications is normally 30th June 2021. In the event that any programme receives a high volume of applications, the university reserves the right to close the application portal earlier than 30th June deadline. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Entry Portal (DAP) against the programme application page.

    Terms and Conditions

    The terms and conditions that apply when you accept an offer of a place at the University on a taught programme of study.
    Queen's University Belfast Terms and Conditions.

    Download a prospectus