MSc Substance Use
Specialise in Substance Use and its impact on people who use substances, family members, communities and contemporary societies.
- Award Masters / MSc, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate
- Start date September 2022
- Duration MSc full time: 12 months, MSc part time: 24 months
- Mode of study part time, full time
- Delivery online
The number of people in treatment for substance use in the UK is on the rise, with 140,599 cases recorded in 2019/20 (gov.uk). There's a distinct and growing need for professionals in this field who can contribute to research and support.
Our MSc Substance Use is ideal for professionals looking to develop their career in the field of substance use, as well as individuals looking to build on their undergraduate studies. The course syllabus explores how substance use affects people who use substances, family members, communities and contemporary societies. In recognition of both the complexity of the needs of people who use substances but also the integration of the practice field in substance use, the course offers a unique interdisciplinary focus through its suite of optional modules. You’ll have the opportunity to expand your knowledge on substance use, related policies and interventions, at local, national (Scotland and UK) and international levels within a context of partnership working.
With elective modules in specialist subjects such as housing, public health or rehabilitation, you’ll develop a range of skills which will significantly enhance your confidence and employability in the field of substance use.
Top reasons to study with us
On successful completion of this programme, you should be able to achieve the following objectives.
- Evaluate and criticise theories and concepts expressed to account for substance use and assess how these have informed the development of substance use policies and intervention.
- Apply critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis to forefront and current issues of UK and international policy approaches to substance use.
- Appraise and critically evaluate major international and local approaches to practice with a focus on partnership working to address the complexity of substance-related problems.
- Critically review approaches to working with different groups of substance affected individuals and families and the implications these may have on individuals and communities.
- Use up-to-date evidence-based practice and policy research in the field of substance use and appraise information to formulate new understandings and creative solutions to the substance problem.
- Demonstrate independent critical and reflective thinking in relation to the use of evidence in shaping and developing research.
- Assess and reflect on the ethical underpinnings of research, policy and practice.
- Communicate, using appropriate methods, to a range of audiences with different levels of knowledge/expertise, including peers, more senior colleagues and specialists.
- Demonstrate leadership and/or initiative and make an identifiable contribution to the field of substance use through the critical assessment of evidence to conduct a literature review and/or design research.
- Reflect on personal, professional and societal values and the ways these might impact on development of drug policy and practice.
- Exercise substantial autonomy and initiative in time management and academic activities and take responsibility for own work.
- Adopt the position of active global citizens who are socially, culturally and environmentally aware of the complexities of the substance use problem and its implications for substance affected individuals and families and communities.
If you’re interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email Graduate Admissions to discuss your course of study.
The Drug Research Network Scotland (DRNS) is hosted in the University, as well as the Salvation Army Centre for Addiction Services and Research.
When you study for a MSc Substance Use at the University of Stirling, you’ll be introduced to leading-edge empirical and theoretical research in a vibrant, multi-disciplinary environment.
Underpinning the expertise of our staff, the University of Stirling scored highly in the most recent Research Excellent Framework (REF 2021) – a UK-wide assessment of universities’ research output. In the Social Work and Social Policy unit of assessment, University of Stirling was ranked 3rd in Scotland and top 25 in the UK, with 100% of our research environment and 88% of our research deemed world-leading or internationally excellent.
A minimum of a second class honours degree or equivalent. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.
English language requirements
If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:
- IELTS Academic or UKVI 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each sub-skill
- Cambridge C1 Advanced (CAE) 176 overall with a minimum of 169 in each sub-skill
- Cambridge C2 Proficiency (CPE) 180 overall with a minimum of 169 in each sub-skill
- Pearson Test of English (Academic) 62 overall with 60 in each sub-skill
- IBT TOEFL 80 overall with 18 in reading, 23 in writing, 19 in listening and 21 in speaking
- IBT TOEFL Special Home Edition Test 80 overall with 18 in reading, 23 in writing, 19 in listening and 21 in speaking
- Trinity ISE II Pass overall and Merit in all sub-skills, ISE III Pass overall and in all sub-skills, ISE IV Pass overall and in all sub-skills
- Aptis (4 skills) CEFR B2 overall and B2 in all sub-skills
- Duolingo 105 overall with a minimum of 95 in each sub-skill
- LanguageCert International ESOL B2 Communicator - High Pass with a minimum of 152/200 overall and 33 in each sub-skill
Last updated: 24 March 2022
If you are from India, Ghana or Nigeria please also check your country/region specific page for any additional, or changes to, English language requirements.
For more information on ways that you can meet our English language requirements, including options to waive the requirement, please read our information on English language requirements.
The course takes a flexible approach to learning, with all modules delivered online.
All modules are assessed through coursework such as essays, evaluation reports, presentations, research proposals and literature reviews.
Fees and funding
Fees and costs
|UK and Republic of Ireland students||Overseas students|
|Total MSc course fee||
Fees shown are for a full-time, one-year Masters course.
If you are studying part time, the total course fee will be split over the years that you study. The total fee will remain the same and will be held at the rate set in your year of entry.
If you need to extend your period of study or repeat study, you will be liable for additional fees.
For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.
Postgraduate tuition fee loans
This course is eligible for a postgraduate tuition fee loan from one of the UK’s governments. See the Scholarships and funding section, below, for more details.
There are some instances where additional fees may apply. Depending on your chosen course, you may need to pay additional costs, for example for field trips. Learn more about additional fees.
Scholarships and funding
Scottish students may be eligible to apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for loans of up to £10,000 to cover tuition fees and associated living costs.
English students can apply for a loan of up to £11,570 each year as part of the Postgraduate Masters Loan Scheme.
Welsh students can apply for financial support of up to £18,025 as a combination of grant and loan from Student Finance Wales.
Northern Irish students can apply for a postgraduate tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 from Student Finance NI.
We aim to be as flexible as possible, and offer a wide range of payment methods - including the option to pay fees by instalments. Learn more about how to pay
After you graduate
Prospective students might come from a range of different educational or professional backgrounds, such as criminal justice, mental health nursing, substance use services, sociology and criminology. The MSc Substance Use offers a pathway of career development whether in practice or further study to either Professional Doctorate or PhD study.
Different career paths for graduates of this programme include third sector organisations, policy advocacy organisations, government and NGOs or public services as well as research.
The MSc aims to provide graduates with knowledge and understanding along with the intellectual and practical skills to develop or further their careers in research and practice within the substance use field.
You’ll develop a range of skills which will significantly enhance both your confidence and employability in the field of substance use.
What our students said
MSc Substance Use
Read Carol's storyI would advise anyone considering doing a course at Stirling to go for it! The support from the tutors and other staff has been outstanding and I have always been able to work flexibly alongside my full time job.