Contemporary Drug & Alcohol Studies
Duration & study mode
1 year full-time, typically 2 years part-time
Media, Culture & Society
Course starting dates
Our innovative MSc Contemporary Alcohol & Drug Studies course adopts a critical social science perspective to explore the interplay between psychoactive substances and society across a range of areas. Our course will introduce you to a range of:
You will critically examine patterns of substance use across social groups and the contexts and consequences of substance-related harms for individuals, families and neighbourhoods.
You will also examine the social, economic and political influences on substances and their effects. In addition, you will compare and contrast the operations of the alcohol industry with the drugs economy and explore current debates on alcohol and drug law reforms nationally and internationally.
A Postgraduate Certificate, comprising Understanding Substance Use, Contemporary Responses to Substance Use, and The Politics of Drug & Alcohol Policy is available to study on a part-time basis over 9 months.
Our MSc provides you with the opportunity to engage in Work Based Learning (WBL) with a partner organisation in the drug and alcohol field, or in an academic research setting. A variety of external organisations are involved in our WBL, including:
Experiential learning is an important feature of our course, allowing you to apply elements of class based learning to the work place. If you are keen to pursue a career in research or doctoral study, the option to participate in a research WBL experience based within the university is offered. This focuses on the further development of academic research and writing skills.
"Being a clinician, I found that the course helped broaden my knowledge base and my views. The reading material for the first year modules was particularly interesting. The experience of conducting a research study with an experienced supervisor was invaluable."
Saket Priyadarshi, Clinician
Overall student satisfaction (Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2017)
Graduates in work/further study 6 months after graduating (HESA performance indicator 2015/16)
Of our students would recommend UWS to a friend (Amongst postgraduate Media, Culture & Society students – Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2016)
We welcome Scottish, UK and international students and consider all applicants on an individual basis.
Don’t worry if your qualifications are not listed here, we take a range of factors into account when assessing your application and are happy to consider other alternative combinations of qualifications and experience
If you are applying with an EU or non-EU qualification, please check our Postgraduate Entry Requirements page which gives more information about country-specific 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.
For applicants whose first language is not English, the University sets a minimum English Language proficiency level. The qualifications below must have been gained within two years of the start of your course.
General English language requirements at UWS: International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training)
All stated English tests are acceptable for admission for both home/EU and international students for this programme:
For our research degrees (MRes, MPhil, PhD, DBA, DProf), applicants are required to have an IELTS score as follows:
For Health, Nursing & Midwifery courses that lead to professional registration with the Nursing & Midwifery Council, applicants are required to have an IELTS score as follows:
For our Certificate of Higher Education courses, applicants are required to have an IELTS score as follows:
TOEFL IBT*: 78; no sub-test less than:
* Please note that TOEFL is still acceptable for admission to this programme for both home/EU and international students.
For international students, the Home Office has confirmed that the University can choose to use TOEFL to make its own assessment of English language ability for visa applications to degree level courses. We therefore still accept TOEFL tests taken in the last two years for admission to this programme.
West African Senior School Certificate of Education (WASSCE) including acceptance of WAEC Scratchcard*
*UWS will accept a WAEC scratchcard confirming that an applicant has achieved C6 or above as evidence of meeting English language requirement from Nigeria if the student graduated within the last 5 years. After 5 years applicants would be required to provide the WAEC Certificate.
Applicants who do not meet the minimum English language requirements have the option to study one of our preparatory and pre-sessional English courses. The UWS courses available are:
Our MSc qualification comprises of six 20-credit modules at SCQF Level 11 and the completion of the MSc Dissertation, in which you undertake an independent research project and present your findings in a thesis.
A range of teaching, learning and assessment methodologies are used, including:
Our postgraduate course emphasises inquiry-based learning where you are encouraged and supported to develop your critical thinking and communication skills by engaging with your peers in class based and online group work. You are also supported to develop your independent and autonomous learning activities. The modules employ a range of assessment methods and formative exercises with timely feedback to assist you in developing and deepening your knowledge and skills.
The assessments cater for a range of learning styles and skills, and include:
Find out more about the structure, learning outcomes, compulsory and optional modules in this course.
A wide variety of employment options in the drug/alcohol services (in the statutory/voluntary sectors) and in broader youth and social care professions will be available when you graduate.
If you are already employed in services our MSc confers a specialist knowledge of theory and contemporary evidence-based developments in the field and is useful for career advancement and continuing professional development.
Following graduating with an MSc, you may wish to apply to study for a PhD in Alcohol & Drug Studies.
"In 2004 I was enrolled as a PhD student in Alcohol and Drug Studies at the University looking at normative beliefs and 'binge' drinking among University students. I was also a Tutor on one module. Prior to this I spent 9 months working for Greater Glasgow Health Board as an Assistant Psychologist in the adolescent deliberate self-harm service. I successfully completed my PhD in June 2008"
Dr John McAlaney
£5,500 per year of study
£5,500 per year of study
£5,500 per year of study
£10,600 per year of study
The cost of attending university is an investment in your future career.
In addition to tuition fees and living expenses, some courses involve extra costs like study materials, field trips, equipment and uniforms.
Fortunately, there is a great deal of financial support available to help students meet the cost of their study. This ranges from:
The sections below provide details of additional costs that your course may involve along with any financial support that may be available.
You can also find additional information in our Postgraduate Money, Fees & Funding section.
Students on certain degrees will incur some additional costs not covered by their tuition fees. These could be for things like specialist equipment, study materials, work placements, graduation, membership of relevant organisations or costs related to carrying out fieldwork.
For students on course with an element of fieldwork, there may also be extra costs for travel and accommodation.
Please contact the course leader for details of the additional costs associated with this course.
Tuition fees are calculated based on where you are from and what you are studying. Some courses also involve additional costs, such as mandatory field trips, equipment or studying abroad.
Scottish students studying at postgraduate level at UWS are entitled to various funds and support towards tuition fees and living costs.
English, Welsh and Northern Irish students studying at postgraduate level at UWS are entitled to various funds and support towards tuition fees and living costs.
EU students studying at postgraduate level of UWS may be eligible for SAAS funding, as well as support to meet the costs of childcare and various sources of additional funding.
There are several scholarship and incentive schemes available to international students studying at postgraduate level at UWS, as well as support to meet the costs of childcare and various sources of additional funding.
UWS administer a range of discretionary and childcare funds. These are designed to support students who are experiencing financial difficulty or struggling to meet the costs of childcare.
Becoming a student can have an impact on your entitlement to certain benefits. It may mean you are no longer eligible to claim a benefit you have been receiving, or your new income from student funding may affect the amount you are able to receive.
If there isn’t a statutory source of funding for you or your course, or you are in need of additional financial support, you may wish to consider more alternative sources of funding such as trust funds and scholarships.
Choosing to become a student can have a big impact on your budget and you may need to reassess your spending to account for a reduced income. We’ve put together some guidance to help you manage your money and make the right financial choices for you and your family.
All students should apply directly to the University through our online application system. Before you apply, you should check that you meet our entry requirements and you should have all your supporting documents ready.
The first stage of the process is to create a profile; you don't have to complete the application in one session - you can complete it in stages by saving each section and return to complete it at a later date.
You will need to upload documents with your applications, which may include transcripts and degree certificates.
Most courses don't have a formal closing date, but they will close when they are full; apply early to avoid disappointment. There may also be funding deadlines that apply to you.
Before you begin your application, it is important to read the Postgraduate & Post-Experience application step-by-step guide for a smooth process.
An ATAS certificate is not required for overseas students applying for this course.
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We will always try to make sure that we publish accurate course information but we do not accept responsibility for any mistakes or omissions. We will also try to make sure that we deliver our courses in line with our published information. However, we may not always be able to do so and you can find further information about this in our enrolment terms and conditions.