Substance Use & Substance Use Disorders

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.

Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders highlights

For Social Work candidates only the Master's by thesis will meet a number of the professional requirements in the Leadership category in the Professional in Practice framework.

Professional Accreditations

•The Master's in Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders programme will be accredited by the Northern Ireland Professional in Practice Education and Training Partnership and will offer a range of professional awards and requirements at the specific, specialist and leadership levels.

Career Development

•Professional Development For 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.

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.

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.


3 years part-time

Careers or further progression

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.

Subjects taught

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 Details

Core Modules

(One research module 60 CATS points)

Semester One

September 2020 (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 2020 (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 2020 (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 2021 (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 2021 (1 day)

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

September 2021

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

Assessment method


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.

Application date

Closing date for applications: Friday 31 July 2020 at 4pm.

Late applications may be considered.

How to Apply

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

Enrolment and start dates

Entry year 2020

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