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What will I learn?


Students are introduced to a range of cross disciplinary theories, concepts, and evidence to analyse:

  • The use and effects of psychoactive substances
  • Patterns of consumption differentiated across social groups
  • Responses to drug and alcohol-related harms from a range of perspectives, such as criminal justice, treatment, harm reduction, public health, and health inclusion

We critically examine substance-related harms for individuals, families, and communities and how harms are mediated by gender, class, race and ethnicity. We pay particular attention to the social, economic, and political contexts of inequality and risk environments and how issues such as housing, homelessness and welfare state reforms may contribute to harms.

We also assess the influences of the alcohol industry; the drugs economy; and prohibition on policy and practice and engage with current debates on alcohol and drug law reforms nationally and internationally.

Key Features & Additional Information

A key feature of the MSc is its exploration of current global developments in responses to substance use and its critical evaluation of the evidence for behaviour change, treatment outcomes, harm reduction and recovery.

The course provides a supportive, inspirational, and transformative learning experience and encourages you to develop a high-level understanding of the research evidence in the field and harness this knowledge for policy and practice.

Successful applicants are eligible to apply for a bursary from the Society for the Study of Addiction (SSA) to help with their costs.

Career Focused

The MSc Contemporary Drug & Alcohol Studies provides you with a unique opportunity to link theory and practice by engaging in work-based learning in a practice (drug/alcohol service) or research setting. This maximises your employability prospects. A variety of external organisations are involved in our work-based learning, including:

  • Charities
  • NGOs
  • Community groups
  • Health related alcohol and drug services

Experiential learning is an important feature of our course, allowing you to apply elements of class-based learning to the workplace. If you are keen to pursue a career in research or doctoral study, you may opt to participate in a research work-based learning experience. You will also gain PGCert and PGDip awards in this course.

Which department am I in?

Education and Social Sciences

Study options

Full Time (1 year)

Tuition fees
£13,325.00 (US$ 15,213) per year
The fee mentioned is for 2021/22 and there will be a slight increase in the fee for 2022/23 entry.

This is a fixed fee
Start date

Expected September 2022


Paisley Campus

High Street,



PA1 2BE, Scotland

Online/Distance with attendance (1 year)

Tuition fees
£13,325.00 (US$ 15,213) per year
The fee mentioned is for 2021/22 and there will be a slight increase in the fee for 2022/23 entry.

This is a fixed fee
Start date

Expected September 2022


Run at the client site in the region of United Kingdom


Entry requirements

For international students

You are required to hold an Honours degree (minimum 2:2 classification) within the broad area of the Social Sciences or an Ordinary bachelor’s degree with significant and relevant work experience. If you do not meet these standard entry requirements, you may be admitted to the MSc at the discretion of the programme Admissions Officer/Programme Leader. However, you must demonstrate that you have sufficient relevant professional or practice-based experience to undertake their chosen programme of study. General English language requirements at UWS: International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training) overall score 6.0 with no sub-test less than 5.5, TOEFL IBT: 78; no sub-test less than: Reading 17; Listening 17; Speaking 17; and Writing 17.

*There may be different IELTS requirements depending on your chosen course.


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