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Session: 2022/23

Last modified: 07/07/2022 14:40:51

Title of Module: Understanding Substance Use

Code: CDAS11005 SCQF Level: 11
(Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework)
Credit Points: 20 ECTS: 10
(European Credit Transfer Scheme)
School:School of Education & Social Sciences
Module Co-ordinator:A  O'Gorman

Summary of Module

Understanding Substance Use explores fundamental issues and concepts in the field of drug and alcohol studies. This module introduces the subject area by exploring a broad historical perspective on the prevalence of substance use.

We will then offer definitions and effects of psychoactive substances and critically explore health and social consequences of use.  Concepts of addiction and dependence are considered from a range of perspectives and disciplines.

The module examines patterns of substance use across local, national and international units of analysis.  This develops to consider differentiated patterns and consequences of consumption across gender, age, class and ethnicity.

Students critically assess theoretical perspectives on substance use from a range of disciplines including biology, psychology, criminology and sociology using a range of data sources.

This module introduces students to key concepts and historical information that will facilitate a contemporary understanding of how substance use is understood.

This module provides subject specialist knowledge and is a required module for both the MSc and the Pg. Certificate.

Topics include:

  • Historical understanding of substance use, and the emergence of the concepts of addiction and dependence
  • Definitions and effects of psychoactive substances
  • Socio demographic patterns of consumption within populations, from an international perspective
  • Consequences of substance use for individuals, families, communities, and the state.

Multi-disciplinary understanding of how substance use is understood from a range of theoretical perspectives including, biology, psychology, criminology and sociology.

Module Delivery Method
Face-To-FaceBlendedFully OnlineHybridCHybridOWork-based Learning
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Term used to describe the traditional classroom environment where the students and the lecturer meet synchronously in the same room for the whole provision.

A mode of delivery of a module or a programme that involves online and face-to-face delivery of learning, teaching and assessment activities, student support and feedback. A programme may be considered “blended” if it includes a combination of face-to-face, online and blended modules. If an online programme has any compulsory face-to-face and campus elements it must be described as blended with clearly articulated delivery information to manage student expectations

Fully Online
Instruction that is solely delivered by web-based or internet-based technologies. This term is used to describe the previously used terms distance learning and e learning.

Online with mandatory face-to-face learning on Campus

Online with optional face-to-face learning on Campus

Work-based Learning
Learning activities where the main location for the learning experience is in the workplace.

Campus(es) for Module Delivery
The module will normally be offered on the following campuses / or by Distance/Online Learning: (Provided viable student numbers permit)
Paisley:Ayr:Dumfries:Lanarkshire:London:Distance/Online Learning:Other:
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Term(s) for Module Delivery
(Provided viable student numbers permit).
Term 1check markTerm 2


Term 3


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Learning Outcomes: (maximum of 5 statements)

On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

L1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of how substance use and problems are understood from a range of perspectives.

L2. Critical understanding of the prevalence of substance use and problems.

L3. Critical appreciation of the effects of substance use on individuals, families, communities and the State.

L4. Demonstrate a critical awareness of how theories of addiction and dependence impact on understanding substance use and problems.

Employability Skills and Personal Development Planning (PDP) Skills
SCQF Headings During completion of this module, there will be an opportunity to achieve core skills in:
Knowledge and Understanding (K and U) SCQF Level 11.

Students completing this module will be able to demonstrate:

Historical and contemporary understanding of models of addiction, related terminology and how this underpins interventions;

A critical understanding of the principal theories that challenge contemporary models of addiction and policy and treatment interventions.

Generic Cognitive skills SCQF Level 11.

Apply critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis to demonstrate subject specialist knowledge of addiction.

Identify, conceptualise and define new and abstract problems and issues.

Communication, ICT and Numeracy Skills SCQF Level 11.

Take part in group discussions with academic supervisors both online and on campus.

Communicate effectively and appropriately with a range of audiences.

Autonomy, Accountability and Working with others SCQF Level 11.

Working effectively, together with others in groups or teams, taking both a leadership and a team member role where appropriate.

Systematically identifying and addressing their own learning needs both in current and in new areas as appropriate.

Pre-requisites: Before undertaking this module the student should have undertaken the following:
Module Code:
Module Title:
Co-requisitesModule Code:
Module Title:

* Indicates that module descriptor is not published.

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Learning and Teaching
Learning Activities
During completion of this module, the learning activities undertaken to achieve the module learning outcomes are stated below:
Student Learning Hours
(Normally totalling 200 hours):
(Note: Learning hours include both contact hours and hours spent on other learning activities)
Lecture/Core Content Delivery24
Tutorial/Synchronous Support Activity12
Independent Study98
Personal Development Plan30
Asynchronous Class Activity36
200 Hours Total

**Indicative Resources: (eg. Core text, journals, internet access)

The following materials form essential underpinning for the module content and ultimately for the learning outcomes:

Bancroft, A. (2009). Drugs, intoxication and society. Cambridge: Policy Press

Coomber, R., McElrath, K., Measham F. and Moore, (2013). Key Concepts in Drugs and Society. London: Sage

Nutt, David (2020) Drugs without the hot air: Making sense of legal and illegal drugs. Cambridge:UIT

Gage, Suzi (2020) Say why to drugs. London: Hodder & Stoughton

(**N.B. Although reading lists should include current publications, students are advised (particularly for material marked with an asterisk*) to wait until the start of session for confirmation of the most up-to-date material)

Engagement Requirements

In line with the Academic Engagement Procedure, Students are defined as academically engaged if they are regularly engaged with timetabled teaching sessions, course-related learning resources including those in the Library and on the relevant learning platform, and complete assessments and submit these on time. Please refer to the Academic Engagement Procedure at the following link: Academic engagement procedure

Where a module has Professional, Statutory or Regulatory Body requirements these will be listed here:
All fulltime students (part-time and distant learning students should check with their programme leader for any queries) are required to attend all scheduled classes and participate with all delivered elements of the module as part of their engagement with their programme of study. Consideration will be given to students who have protection under the appropriate equality law. Please refer to UWS Regulations, Chapter 1, 1.64 – 1.67, available at the following link:

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Supplemental Information

Programme BoardSocial Sciences
Assessment Results (Pass/Fail) No
Subject PanelPG Social Science
External ExaminerL Williams
Accreditation Details
Version Number


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Assessment: (also refer to Assessment Outcomes Grids below)
Assessment 1:Review/Article/Critique/Paper. Produce a critical annotated bibliography detailing four research papers related to the topic of understanding substance use. Length: 1,200 words (40%)
Assessment 2: Essay. Discuss the connections between models of addiction and risk environments for substance use problems.
Length: 2,000 words (60%)
(N.B. (i) Assessment Outcomes Grids for the module (one for each component) can be found below which clearly demonstrate how the learning outcomes of the module will be assessed.
(ii) An indicative schedule listing approximate times within the academic calendar when assessment is likely to feature will be provided within the Student Handbook.)

Assessment Outcome Grids (Footnote A.)

Component 1
Assessment Type (Footnote B.) Learning Outcome (1) Learning Outcome (2) Learning Outcome (3) Learning Outcome (4) Weighting (%) of Assessment ElementTimetabled Contact Hours
Review/ Article/ Critique/ Papercheck markcheck mark  400

Component 2
Assessment Type (Footnote B.) Learning Outcome (1) Learning Outcome (2) Learning Outcome (3) Learning Outcome (4) Weighting (%) of Assessment ElementTimetabled Contact Hours
Essay  check markcheck mark600
Combined Total For All Components100% 0 hours

A. Referred to within Assessment Section above
B. Identified in the Learning Outcome Section above

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  1. More than one assessment method can be used to assess individual learning outcomes.
  2. Schools are responsible for determining student contact hours. Please refer to University Policy on contact hours (extract contained within section 10 of the Module Descriptor guidance note).
    This will normally be variable across Schools, dependent on Programmes &/or Professional requirements.

Equality and Diversity
Equality & Diversity
Aligned with the overall commitment to equality and diversity stated in the Programme Specifications, the module supports equality of opportunity for students from all backgrounds and with different learning needs. Using Moodle, learning materials will be presented electronically in formats that allow flexible access and manipulation of content (part-time and distant learning students should check with their programme leader for any queries). The module complies with University regulations and guidance on inclusive learning and teaching practice. Specialist assistive equipment, support provision and adjustment to assessment practice will be made in accordance with UWS policy and regulations. The University’s Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Policy can be accessed at the following link:

Our partners are fully committed to the principles and practice of inclusiveness and our modules are designed to be accessible to all. Where this module is delivered overseas, local equivalent support for students and appropriate legislation applies.

UWS Equality and Diversity Policy
(N.B. Every effort will be made by the University to accommodate any equality and diversity issues brought to the attention of the School)

2014 University of the West of Scotland

University of the West of Scotland is a Registered Scottish Charity.

Charity number SC002520.