Single Module Level 7

Drugs, Addiction and Society (Level 7, 30 credits)




One semester

Next enrolment

January 2025


In a nutshell

On this module you will consider the impact of addiction and drugs on society from health services to workplaces to the criminal justice system.  We explore how society impacts on addictions and drug use, and investigate treatment options taking into account wider societal values.  


You will:

  • Develop an understanding of the complexity and interconnectivity of psychosocial factors which impact on drugs and addiction
  • Consider the research methodologies used in drug and addiction research
  • Have the opportunity to propose an evidence based solution to one of the issues impacting on Drug use or Addiction in the Greater Manchester area
Course details

All about the course

The module aims to:

  • Consider how drugs are used in Western society
  • Provide a critical awareness of a range of problems that are associated with drug use and drug misuse
  • Examine the impact of drug use and drug misuse on society
  • Introduce students to drug policy and policy making

In achieving these aims the following topics will be considered:

  • Use of psychoactive drugs in modern society: including popular culture, gender issues, peer group influence, demographic factors etc
  • Conceptualisations of drug taking and “the addict”.
  • Drug use and the family: impact on relationships, children.
  • Implications for society of drug use and misuse.
  • Examining the links between theories of addiction and agency practices.
  • Society’s management of the problems of drug use and misuse. Costs of drug use and misuse to society.
  • Drug education and health promotion strategies.
  • Drug legislation and the legalisation debate.

These topics might not be considered separately but will be integrated into the sessions.  There is scope for the focus of the sessions to reflect the interests of the cohort of students.  When appropriate experts from outside of the University are brought in to give sessions.

What do our students say about this module? 

"Taking the Drugs, Addiction and Society module as part of my MSc studies was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. It opened my eyes to the broader societal impact of substance use and misuse and allows for critical exploration of the response of government, statutory and third sector organisations to the associated harms of substance misuse – whether that be for drug related gang violence or the rise of New Psychoactive Substances.

Exploring the ever-evolving interplay between government policy, healthcare provision and criminal justice system in response to substance misuse throughout this module was fascinating. Not only that, the theoretical knowledge and examples used by the course tutors are things I see unfold every day in my role with the NHS – not just in Salford and Manchester, but right across the North of England.

The assessment components of the course are such that they allow for creativity and exploration of your own interests in relation to drugs, addiction and society. The challenging aspects of the assessments such as formulating an intervention, how it will be designed and delivered and it’s scalability is one aspect, but then being asked to defend your ideas in a room full of your peers and supervisors is another – but the benefits of going through such experiences are directly transferable into almost any sector of employment.

Overall, the module deepened my understanding of societies response to substance misuse, whether that be through demonising people suffering with addiction or tackling the distribution and supply of drugs and conversely allowed me to explore how some drugs can shape society, most importantly it equipped me with tangible knowledge and skills I use regularly in my professional career."

Shane Mageean

Engagement Coordinator – Community Based SMS

Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust

Please note that it may not be possible to deliver the full list of options every year as this will depend on factors such as how many students choose a particular option. Exact modules may also vary in order to keep content current. When accepting your offer of a place to study on this programme, you should be aware that not all optional modules will be running each year. Your tutor will be able to advise you as to the available options on or before the start of the programme. Whilst the University tries to ensure that you are able to undertake your preferred options, it cannot guarantee this.

What will I be doing?

The module is taught over 10 weeks, with one three hour teaching session per week.  The module runs in semester two so is normally split by the Easter Vacation.  Within the 10 weeks there will by one session for practice presentations and one session for the assessed presentation.


The module is assessed by a 20 minute presentation and a 3,000 word report.  The assessment requires you to develop a proposal for an evidence based solution to improve the situation around drug taking or addiction in Greater Manchester. In the past students have considered ways to improve drug education in schools, better interventions in prisons, ways to support addicts in employment but the remit is wide and any innovative idea is welcomed.

The School of Health and Society

The School of Health and Society is a forward-thinking, dynamic school with a commitment to lifelong learning and real world impact.

Our courses are informed by the latest research and we work closely with organisations from both the public and private sector to ensure our teaching is at the forefront of practice.

Employment and stats

What about after uni?

It is felt this module will enhance career development by introducing you to new ideas and ways of thinking.  The assessment allows you to really consider how their ideas could be put into practice.  Any student passing this module might also want to consider joining the MSc Applied Psychology (Addictions).

Career Links

We work with over 100 health and social care organisations so our links with industry are very strong. These relationships will be of direct benefit to you because our academic team work in practice in some of these organisations at a senior level so are able to keep you at the forefront of developments in the sector, which in turn help you provide a better service.


What you need to know

This course will be ideal for anyone working or with experience within the addictions arena who wishes to learn more about how research evidence can be used to understand the role of society in drug, alcohol and addictions.  If you have an idea about how to improve the situation with respect to drug and alcohol use in Greater Manchester this course will allow you to explore how you might review the evidence to support your idea.  Whether you work in policy or practice this course will encourage you to really think about the implications of drugs and addiction in your community.

    Standard entry requirements

    Previous study and experience

    It is expected that you will have a first degree and experience within the drug, alcohol or addiction area or in a related area such as housing, prison service or within education.

    Alternative entry requirements

    Accreditation of prior learning (APL)

    We welcome applications from students who may not have formal/traditional entry criteria but who have relevant experience or the ability to pursue the course successfully.

    The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process could help you to make your work and life experience count. The APL process can be used for entry onto courses or to give you exemptions from parts of your course.

    Two forms of APL may be used for entry: the Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) or the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).

    How much?

    Type of study Year Fees
    Part-time 2024/25 £1,470 per 30 credit module
    Part-time 2025/26 £1,530 per 30 credit module

    Additional costs

    You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.

    Apply now

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    Enrolment dates

    January 2025