Postgraduate taught 

Health Services Management MSc/PgDip/PgCert

Substance Use, Health, and Society MED5611

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Health and Wellbeing
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course explores the reasons why people take drugs and what society thinks about drug use through medical, legal, social, and political lenses. Building on this, we begin to look at contemporary harms - to both the substance user, and beyond - occurring as a result of drug use and consider the role that public health and advocacy can take in making lives better for people affected by their own or another's substance use.


This course is made up of lectures, tutorials and a workshop in semester 2.


Three assessments:


1. A policy briefing providing an evidence-based analysis of a public health problem linked to substance use (50%) (ILO 1, 2, 3)

2. A vlog, blog, or podcast, exploring a contemporary substance use issue for a lay audience (30%) (ILO 2, 3)

3. A reflective piece (500 - 750 words) summarising the shift in their learning throughout the course in relation to substance use. (20%) (ILO 1, 2)

Course Aims

The aim of this course is to enable students to develop a critical understanding of substance use in society, and the relationship substance use has with health and wellbeing.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


1. Critically evaluate different theoretical perspectives of substance use in society.


2. Synthesise evidence and apply their own disciplinary learning to critically analyse and interrogate what is meant by problem substance use.


3. Demonstrate an ability to provide an informed contribution to the wider public debate on substance use to different audiences.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.