Substance Use in a Contemporary World (PGT)


Substance Use in a Contemporary World Microcredential

Duration: 10 weeks
Credits: 10 Academic Credits (PG)
Delivery: All course content is delivered on Moodle, our virtual learning platform. You will converse with the tutors and fellow students in online forums.
Timetable: Fully online and flexible, with no scheduled classes to attend.
Funding: You are eligible for a fully funded place on this course if you are Scottish-domiciled and/or work for an organisation based in Scotland.
College: College of Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences
School: College of Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences Graduate School

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Since 2000, Scotland has faced a substantial rise in the number of deaths related to substance use. Connected to this rise is an increase in the number of substance-related harms to health and wellbeing, faced by those consuming substances, their friends and families, and wider communities. The reasons people use substances are complex and related to wider patterns of social inequalities. This course aims to help learners understand the complexities of substance use in the contemporary world.

Why this course

Upon completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Think critically, analytically, reflexively and creatively about theoretical approaches for understanding substance use and apply this learning to unpack and explore current issues around drug and alcohol use;
  • Solve problems and formulate evidence-based opinions through engaging with course material;
  • Articulate and debate your opinions on the subject matter in a respectful way.

Course structure

This course is designed to introduce learners to theoretical perspectives and key debates about substance use. It will cover the following topics:

Week 1: Course Introduction

Week 2: Substance Use & Stigma

Week 3: Understanding Substance Use Problems

Week 4: Early Theories of Substance Use

Week 5: Social & Biopsychosocial Understandings of Substance Use

Week 6: Changing Patterns in Substance Use

Week 7: Substance Use Pathways

Week 8: Introduction to Recovery & Harm Reduction

Week 9: Exploring Recovery & Harm Reduction

Week 10: Harm to Others & Radical Solutions



There are two optional assessments for this course (one worth 40% and one worth 60%). Learners who choose to submit both assessments will be awarded 10 Academic Credits towards a relevant Master’s degree at the University of Glasgow.


Meet The Team

This course is designed and delivered by Dr Sharon Greenwood, Dr Lucy Pickering and Dr Joyce Nicholson.

Sharon, Lucy, and Joyce have a wealth of experience of working, teaching, and researching substance use over the past 30 years. Sharon and Joyce hold expertise on the impact of alcohol and drug use on children and family members in Scotland, while Lucy brings an intricate knowledge of those recovering from heroin use.


Course alteration or discontinuation
The University of Glasgow endeavours to run all courses as advertised. In exceptional circumstances, however, the University may withdraw or alter a course. For more information, please see: Student contract.

Career prospects

This course is designed to equip learners with skills to progress into the following roles and industries:

  • Health and social care
  • Education
  • Social work
  • Policing and law enforcement
  • Third sector
  • Advocacy work
  • Public sector policymaking and research

Completion of this course grants potential for:

  • Further academic study
  • Promotion
  • Increased earning potential
  • New career path

Entry requirements

It is suggested that learners on this course are educated to at least Undergraduate level and have an IELTS equivalent of 6.5. Learners will not be asked to prove their academic or professional history.