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Taught Courses

International Programme in Addiction Studies (MSc)



The International Programme in Addiction Studies is a unique intensive programme of graduate study, delivered entirely online, leading to a degree of Master of Science in Addiction Studies. It can be taken one year full time or two years part time No campus attendance is required. This programme is available to students from all countries, but  all online lectures, assignments and correspondence are conducted entirely in English.

The programme is jointly designed and implemented by the academic staff of three of the world’s leading universities in the growing field of addiction science; Virginia Commonwealth University, Adelaide University and King's College London.

Its aim is to develop professionals who are fully prepared to assume leadership roles in the addictions field throughout the world. The programme will provide students with an advanced educational experience covering the scientific basis of addiction, comparative epidemiology, evidence-based interventions (including pharmacological, psychosocial and public health approaches), research methodology and addictions policy. Lecturers will be selected from among the world’s leading authorities in each of these subject areas, while programme directors will be faculty members of the three participating universities

The firm scientific grounding of the programme, covering a range of areas from treatment to policy, and its unique international perspective make it appropriate for recent graduates and professionals working in a range of fields such as health, law enforcement, policy and education.

Virginia Commonwealth University is currently the host  to the programme and is processing all applications online via this portal. All applicants are expected to have a first degree.

Module Descriptions


This course/module is designed to provide students of differing backgrounds with an understanding of the process by which international addiction health policy is formed and reformed around the use and misuse of both licit and illicit drugs. The course will look at the epidemiology of addiction around the world and the relationship between the burden of addiction and the corresponding effects of national and international drug policies.



This course/module is designed to provide an overview of the neuropharmacology of drugs of abuse and dependence, including basic principles of drug action as well as comprehensive coverage of the major classes of drugs (opioids, stimulants, nicotine, alcohol, sedatives, cannabis, hallucinogens).

Students will study mechanisms of action, effects, and pharmacokinetics as well as tolerance and dependence for each of these drugs/drug classes. The reasons for addiction, including biological, genetic, cultural and other determinants will be discussed. Students will learn about laboratory based methods used in addiction research.



This course/module is designed to explore the scientific basis and treatment of substance misuse from a psychological perspective germane to the management of drug, alcohol and nicotine dependence. Students will have the opportunity to evaluate the principles of different theoretical approaches underlying psychological assessment and evidence‐based practice.

During this course/module, students will develop a critical awareness of the current literature related to psychological theories of addiction. Students will examine the use and comparative efficacy of different psychological therapies in clinical practice including brief interventions, Cognitive

Behavioural Therapy and Motivational Interviewing/MET. Other interventions (group work, self help) will also be examined alongside the evidence base for Relapse Prevention, Contingency Management and Therapeutic Communities.



This course/module is designed to enable students to develop knowledge and understanding of the different methodological processes underpinning research in the addictions. The research principles involved in hypothesis testing and estimation procedures will be covered as well as the generic skills necessary to undertake a small research project, analyze data and interpret statistical findings.

Students will have an opportunity to discuss the ethical issues that arise from working with and collecting data from vulnerable individuals such as those who use psychoactive substances

During this module and with the help of faculty, students will choose a research project for secondary analysis from a list of topics provided in December of the academic year in which the

project is to be completed. Alternatively, a topic for an appropriately structured systematic review and/or meta‐analysis can be proposed by the student. This will allow students to begin independent readings in their topic of choice and to gain a better sense of the plausibility of their project.



This course/module provides an introduction to basic concepts and research methods in Public Health and Epidemiology as they relate to the study of addictions, as well as an in‐depth

consideration of the personal, social, economic, and cultural burdens/costs associated with drug and alcohol abuse and dependence. Individual and community‐based risk and protective factors related to addictions and primary and secondary prevention efforts aimed at reducing the addictions‐related public health burden are also a focus. An online lecture format featuring presentations by leading researchers and policymakers in the field of addictions will be used, along with readings, online discussions, and writing assignments, to (1) gain a greater understanding of the enormous costs of addictions at every level of society, and (2) introduce students to some of the current thinking and programs related to the primary and secondary prevention of addictions.



This course/module is designed to provide an overview of the pharmacological management of alcohol and drug addiction. It will cover the management of withdrawal from alcohol, sedatives,opioids, cannabis and stimulants, as well as long‐term management of dependence on opioids, tobacco and alcohol. Additional topics include international perspectives on management of dependence, management of dependence during pregnancy, and the process of medication development.



This course/module is designed to enable students to gain advanced understanding of the critical issues involved in the identification, assessment, diagnosis and classification of individuals who misuse substances. Barriers to treatment (religion, etc.) will be considered. Students will explore and critically examine treatment options in special settings (for instance, prisons, criminal justice and employment) and in special populations (for instance, pregnancy, the homeless). Students will also have the opportunity to explore approaches used with specialist populations such as young people and adolescents.



The final research project is a core requirement for the Master of Science Programme and is the key element distinguishing the MSc from a professional certificate or a postgraduate diploma programme. It provides the opportunity to demonstrate specialized understanding of the issue of collecting data from vulnerable groups, and the exercise of independent critical judgment. It also builds other skills, notably independence and creativity. The purpose of the research project is to have students demonstrate competence in the integration and analysis of data related to addictions to further the translation of this knowledge into more effective policies and practices, in keeping with the stated aims of the programme.

Our People

Dr_WilliamsDr Anna Williams is a researcher and lecturer in addiction sciences at King’s College London. She is the Programme leader of the International Master of Science in Addiction Studies (IPAS) and an expert in distance learning. Dr Williams graduated as a psychologist in Brazil, where she also completed her MSc in Psychiatry under the supervision of Prof. Pechansky. Her research in Brazil focused on the development of psychosocial interventions and assessing HIV risk exposure among crack-cocaine users living in shantytowns. She has a PhD in Addiction Science which she completed at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience under the supervision of Prof. Strang and Prof. Marsden. Her PhD project focused on delivering a harm reduction intervention to reduce mortality among heroin users. The intervention, tested through a multisite RCT, was the distribution of naloxone for service users and their family members. This intervention has been endorsed by the WHO and her PhD work has been published in high impact scientific journals. She has also offered support to the establishment of a number of take-home naloxone programmes in the United Kingdom. Dr Williams is also an expert in developing valid and reliable measures, having developed two scales during her PhD (Opioid Overdose Knowledge and Attitudes Scales). More recently Dr. Williams has acted as an external consulted for the World Health Organisation (on overdose management and on the updated of the mhGAP) and also for the United Nations Office for Drug and Crime (looking at the link between HIV and stimulant drugs). Dr Williams maintains international collaborations with universities in Brazil and the United States. She is also a reviewer for several main journals in the Addictions field.   She is currently involved in research in the area of drug-related deaths, teaching and training activities via distance learning. Dr Anna Williams is currently on maternity leave.


Kyle-DyerMichael T. Lynskey Ph.D. is a Professor of Addictions at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London. He completed his training in New Zealand, working on the Christchurch Health and Development, a longitudinal study of 1265 children. He subsequently held academic appointments at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales (Australia) and in the Dept. of Psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, Missouri (United States). Michael has published extensively in the field of longitudinal studies and developmental psychopathology, with a particular emphasis on the development and progression of drug use and drug use disorders. He has published in excess of 300 peer reviewed papers and his work has addressed a number of issues relating to the epidemiology and etiology of drug use and dependence; the comorbidity between drug use and mental health, and genetic influences on cannabis use disorders.  In addition to his involvement with IPAS, he is Program Lead for the M.Sc. in Addictions at King’s College London. 


Tom ParkmanTom Parkman completed his PhD in Health Sciences at the University of York in 2013. His thesis was a qualitative, ethnographic exploration of a service user group that aimed to provide aftercare for people recovering from alcohol and drug addiction in the city of Leeds. Following his PhD, Tom conducted an evaluation of a 12-step, day treatment programme for people recovering from substance dependency in York before moving to the National Addiction Centre, King’s College London.

At the NAC, Tom has worked on an Alcohol Research UK funded role to explore people with alcohol-related conditions who repeatedly present to emergency departments in London. Currently, Tom’s role is split between working as a postdoctoral researcher on a Pilgrim’s Trust funded programme to explore how personalisation and personal budgets assist people with complex and multiple needs in recovery efforts and as module leader on the International Programme in Addiction Sciences.

Tom has more than 10 academic publications and is a personal supervisor to MSc students undertaking the taught MSc in the Addiction science department. 


Elina MalinenElina Malinen is the Programme Administrator for IPAS at King’s College London and is a new member to the department.  

Contact Elina with any queries you may have.




Contact: Ms Elina Malinen at

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