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PGCert/PgDip/MSc in Addiction Studies

The MSc in Addiction Studies has been designed to provide advanced graduate education in the addictions, focussing upon recent advances in the conceptualisation of drug use and addiction, and its effective prevention and treatment. Throughout the programme, theoretical advances and evidence will be positioned within policy development and treatment contexts. Emphasis will be placed upon facilitating the transfer of knowledge and skills to the workplace or individual career aspirations.

The programme recognises that students coming onto it do so from a variety of backgrounds with the goal of extending their theoretical knowledge and practical skills beyond those related to the subjects that they studied at undergraduate level. For example, a nurse or youth counsellor may wish to increase their knowledge of molecular biology or psychopharmacology, whilst a psychology graduate may wish to increase their knowledge and familiarity with treatment options or build upon undergraduate research studies with a view to undertaking a PhD. It is for this reason that the programme commences with introductory modules that ensure that all students, regardless of background, have a basic understanding of the core concepts that underlie the clinical, scientific and public health aspects of addiction before embarking upon individual research and a more rigorous exploration of these areas.

The MSc in Addiction Studies has been designed within the framework of adult learning, flexible and blended delivery (including the incorporation of technology enhanced learning). It includes a flexible modular structure with exit points at the PGCert and PGDip levels. It is offered as a 1-year Full-time or 2 year Part-time course.

Individual learning contracts are developed and regularly reviewed with each student, to ensure a student-centred learning experience and to facilitate timely completion.

The MSc in Addiction Studies consists of seven modules, while the PG Certificate consists of 3 modules (1, 2 and 3 below). The following provides a brief summary of the Programme structure:

Module 1: Introduction to Addiction Science and Theory (30 Credits)

A compulsory fundamental module which will explore the aetiology and nature of addiction problems, the historical development and theoretical perspectives of addiction as a health related problem. This module will also explore the theoretical and evidence-based underpinnings of current pharmacotherapeutic and psychosocial interventions for responding to addictive behaviour.

Module 2: Psychopharmacology of Drug Action and Addiction (15 credits)

A compulsory fundamental module which will explore the psychopharmacological and biological mechanisms underpinning drug action and dependence.

Module 3: Research Methods, Critical Appraisal and Statistics (15 credits)

A compulsory fundamental module which is designed to develop research skills relevant to scholarship and evidence-based practice including critical appraisal, basic biostatistics and methodology.

Module 4: Contemporary Advances in Addiction Research, Policy, Prevention & Practice (15 credits)

This module will introduce the concepts of policy development, prevention strategies and incorporate current/recent research conducted within the Addictions CAG. 

Module 5: Advanced Addiction Practice (15 credits)

This module provides further information on the theories and evidence base that guide clinical practice, and incorporates the clinical placement.

Research Project (60 Credits)

This module encompasses the conduct of a small research project to demonstrate the effective use of evidence within the fields of addiction science, policy and treatment.

Optional Modules (30 credits): One taken from the following:

Advanced Addiction Biology

This optional module is co-offered within the MSc in Neuroscience. It explores advanced biological constructs, such as neurobiology at the molecular and systems level, and genetic and environmental risk factors of addiction.

Advanced Clinical Management of Addiction

This optional module provides advanced knowledge and skills of the primary psychosocial and pharmacotherapeutic techniques that support effective addiction treatment.


A variety of learning methods are used including lectures, seminars, tutorials, journal clubs, practice supervision groups, clinical placements, field experience and self-directed study. This is augmented with the opportunity to share ideas and views with fellow learners either face-to-face or using a discussion board through the KEATS e-learning platform. Learning is supported by on-line self-directed learning packages and access to additional lecture material. Assessment is by essays, written examinations, OSCEs, and reflective learning techniques.

Entry Requirements

Selection is made upon the basis of the application and references. An interview may be required based upon the applicant’s qualifications and experience.

First degree (2:1) or equivalent (in either medicine or psychology; or in any subject related to the addictions followed by a relevant health-related postgraduate diploma or certificate); A candidate without a first degree but with a Professional Qualification or demonstrable significant professional experience may be considered with the following requirements: a) submission of a written essay; b) initial enrolment onto the PG Certificate in Addiction Studies (60 credits encompassing Modules 1, 2 and 3) with subsequent progression onto the MSc dependent upon completion of the PGCert with a Pass with Merit average across these fundamental modules.

Contact: Mr Karl Doyle at:


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