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Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders (PGCert)

PgCert|Postgraduate Taught

Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders

Entry year
Entry requirements
1 year (Part Time)
Places available
30 (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 overarching aims of the PG Cert, PG Dip and Masters in Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders is to enable professionals from a range of sectors working in substance use, mental health and related fields to build on their existing knowledge and skills and to use them effectively within their current work environment. It also aims to develop the participants’ understanding of the range of theories informing substance use, and to assist workers to translate these theories into effective practice.

    The programme will have a pragmatic focus and this will enable practitioners to learn about a range of multi-disciplinary assessment tools, methods of interventions and the necessary skills to work with substance use across a range of settings. Substance use problems permeate work with a range of service user groups, from the more obvious groups, i.e. working with substance use and mental health, to working with children and families, learning disability offenders and older people.

    You can study flexibly by working around your professional duties. These programmes have been accredited by the Northern Ireland Professional in Practice Education and Training Partnership.

    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) or collectively to obtain the PG Cert in Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders (SUDs).
    These will include:
    Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders: Prevalence, Legislation and Theoretical Concepts
    Substance use Disorders and Co-morbid mental health disorders
    Substance use and Substance Use Disorders: International Contexts.

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

    Closing date for applications: Friday 29 July 2022 at 4pm. Late applications may be considered.

    Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders highlights

    The Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders programme responds to the needs of its students with updated, current and evidence-based information which will enhance their PG educational experience through vibrant and interactive learning programmes.

    Career Development

    • Professional Development For multi-disciplinary students. 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. For Social Work students only, the Certificate meets all six of the professional requirements in the ‘Specialist’ category in the Professional in Practice framework, and on completion candidates will be conferred with the Specialist Award. For all students, the programme provides the opportunity to enhance special substance use and substance use disorders skills within a multi-disciplinary teaching environment.

    Student Experience

    • The PG Cert programme is taught by a number of highly skilled academics and practitioners who are currently working or researching and teaching in substance use disorder settings. This marriage of pragmatic skills-based knowledge with corollary evidence-based learning will greatly enhance the student learning experience.
    “The PG Cert in substance Use and substance user disorders provides graduates form 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 module Masters programme whereby students can complete the PG Cert in Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders and then have the option to enrol on the PG Dip and subsequently to enrol on a Masters by thesis module.

    The Pg Cert in Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders is awarded to students who successfully complete three 20 credit taught modules.

    Core Modules (20 CATS points each)

    Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders: Prevalence, Legislation and Theoretical Concepts
    The module will provide candidates with the opportunity to explore current trends in alcohol and drug misuse, the nature and prevalence of substance use in general and treatment populations, a range of theories which underpin practice and the fluid landscape of policy and legislative changes influencing work in this sector.

    Substance use Disorders and Co-morbid mental health disorders
    It is recognised that a more knowledgeable workforce will be better equipped to deal with dual diagnosis in a range of health, social care settings in tiers 1-4 of the care provision spectrum. The online module will enable addiction workers, mental health workers and employees from allied health and social care sectors to gain an understanding of dual diagnosis, including definitions, UK and regional contexts and the application of theory in practice. It will examine substance types and effects, prevalence, poly drug use and alcohol use and will consider the reciprocal relationship between substance misuse and a range of psychiatric symptoms and disorders.
    The online format will enable candidates to access the information and participate in the online fora outside work hours whilst experiencing minimal disruption to their work time and practice. The online platform for learning will also enhance candidate experiential learning and facilitate the multi-disciplinary interaction between a range of allied health and social care professionals which is a core requirement of successful working in dual diagnosis.

    Substance use and Substance Use Disorders: International Contexts.
    Practitioners in substance use settings must have local regional and national knowledge of trends in drugs and patterns of drug use behaviours. In addition, it is also important to consider the wider international context of substance and substance use disorders and relevant new and emerging treatment options which will better inform practice at local and regional levels.
    The module will incorporate the knowledge and expertise of a number of world leaders in the field of substances use and addictions. The body of publications generated by the international experts is widely regarded as an excellent source of peer reviewed research and expert commentary in their respective specific areas of expertise. The students will benefit greatly from this knowledge and will subsequently be encouraged to consider how this world class learning impacts on their own respective areas of practice.

    People teaching you

    Dr Anne Campbell
    Programme Director


    Teaching Times

    Teaching will take place in four day blocks for each module. These are usually timetabled for a Friday/Saturday, 10am –4pm, over a two week period.

    Career Prospects

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

    The Department of Health has highlighted that health, social care workers and social workers demonstrate their competence covered in the curricula of the Social Work postgraduate programmes.

    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 Certificate 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 School is situated across a suite of three buildings in Belfast's Queen's Quarter. We provide student and staff common rooms, computer suites and designated study spaces.

    Explore the teaching and social spaces in our School through our 360 Virtual Tour:

    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.

    Application deadline: Friday 29th July 2022 at 4pm.

    Late applications may be considered.

    Applicants are advised to apply as early as possible. In the event that any programme receives a high number of applications, the University reserves the right to close the application portal prior to the deadline stated on course finder. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Application Portal against the programme application page.

    International Students

    Our country pages include information on entry requirements, tuition fees, scholarships, student profiles, upcoming events and contacts for your country. Use the dropdown list below for 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 £2,217
    Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 £2,217
    England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 £2,490
    EU Other 3 £6,067
    International £6,067

    1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled status, will be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB will be charged the GB fee.

    2 EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI are eligible for NI tuition fees, in line with the Common Travel Agreement arrangements.

    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 2022-23, 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