Taught course

Contemporary Drug and Alcohol Studies

University of the West of Scotland · School of Social Sciences

Entry requirements

You are required to hold an upper second class honours degree in social science or equivalent (2:1 or above).

In particular circumstances you can use evidence of relevant professional experience to support applications. You must demonstrate - via portfolio, extended written application letter, and if deemed necessary by the course leader, an entrance interview – that you have sufficient professional or practiced based experience to undertake their chosen course of study.

Months of entry


Course content

The MSc Contemporary Alcohol and Drug Studies is an innovative post graduate programme that adopts a critical social science perspective to explore the interplay between psychoactive substances and society across a range of areas. The programme introduces students to a range of cross disciplinary theories and concepts. We explore descriptions and effects of psychoactive substances, patterns of consumption, approaches to treatment, relevant policy debates, and the politics of alcohol and drugs policy.

This programme is intended for students wishing to pursue a career in alcohol and drugs service settings, or those seeking to work within in policy or research areas. Many professionals already working in the field benefit from post graduate study in terms of both personal and professional development.

The Programme critically examines key themes in the study of substance use, including definitions of and effects of substances, patterns of consumption within different social contexts, and the consequences of substance-related harms for individuals, families, neighbourhoods and society.

Social, economic and political influences on how and why substances are used, commodified and problematized are critically explored. A key feature of the MSc programme is its exploration of developments in practice responses to substance use and its critical evaluation of the evidence for behaviour change, treatment outcomes, harm reduction and recovery. The programme provides students with a unique opportunity to link theory and practice by engaging in work-based learning (WBL) with a relevant external organisation in the field. This maximises the employability of our graduates considerably. In addition to this, the programme also supports students aiming to work in alcohol and drug research or policy areas.

Staff are research active within national, European and international research networks. Several elements of teaching are underpinned by CDAS team member’s research. Providing students with the most contemporary developments in the field and bringing opportunities for networking opportunities with experts across Scottish, UK, European and International research networks. Students have the opportunity to engage with expert practitioners and researchers from a range of organisations from across the field. This presents excellent knowledge exchange and networking opportunities.

Information for international students

For more information please visit - www.uws.ac.uk/international

Fees and funding

The programme carries SAAS postgraduate loan funding for eligible students up to PG Diploma level, with MSc students eligible to self-fund the dissertation module. Check


for loan info. Many of our students who attend on a part-time basis secure funding support from their employers. 100% of students in work/further study six months after graduating.

Qualification and course duration


part time
11 months
full time
11 months


part time
36 months
full time
9 months


part time
9-21 months

Further details of qualification

MSc - 11 months full-time (available only to graduates with a relevant 2:1 Honours degree); or 11 months part-time for those who have already completed the Postgraduate Diploma: (at an average grade in diploma at B1 or above); or who can enter the MSc direct, based on recognition of prior learning (RPL) and credit transfer. Members of the medical professions have used this route to access the MSc programme in Alcohol and Drug Studies with advanced standing.

Course contact details

Dr Claire Harkins
0800 027 1000 (+44 141 849 4101 out with UK)