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Mental Health and Substance Use (Dual Diagnosis) MSc

Learn about the course below

MSc Mental Health and Substance Use (Dual Diagnosis)

September 2024
Attendance is by distance education
£63 per taught credit (UK) *
£117 per taught credit (INT) *
Course leader
David Garcia

The MSc Mental Health and Substance Use (Dual Diagnosis) is designed for those who want to expand their knowledge and understanding of issues relating to substance use, addictions and mental health, including policies, practice and interventions. It is relevant for those who are working in, associated with or considering a career/preparing to enter this field. Students will be able to develop careers in practice, policy and research. The opportunity to continue studies at Doctoral level is also an option.

This is a part-time programme taught through distance learning methods over two academic years (September start).

Why study MSc Mental Health and Substance Use (Dual Diagnosis) at Middlesex University?

This programme aims to develop your mastery in mental health, addictions and substance use related skills and knowledge, for successful contribution to enhanced professional practice, leadership, policy and service development within this field nationally and internationally across different cultural contexts. You will gain knowledge and expertise in critical analysis and utilising advanced research skills, plus skills in analysis and critique of policy development, plus practice and leadership skills.

This programme also aims to enhance your professional and career development across a range of professional contexts including in: mental health, social care, youth justice, prisons and substance use services and allied professions. You will undertake either a literature-based dissertation (60 credits at level 7) or a work-based project (60 credits at level 7).

This course will benefit individuals working in or with aspirations to work in:

  • mental health
  • drug and alcohol treatment and support sector
  • primary and community health care
  • criminal justice systems
  • government agencies
  • education
  • youth work
  • social work
  • allied health professions

As a student of this course you'll receive a free electronic textbook for every module.

Please note: This course does not lead to registration as a mental health nurse or other mental health practitioner. Applicants wishing to undertake a professional nursing programme, please visit our Nursing pages. Applicants interested in undertaking a qualifying social work programme Social Work MA and Social Work PGDip


  • A honours degree (2:2 or above) in any discipline.
  • Exceptionally, students who do not have a degree but can provide evidence of their ability to study at Masters level may be considered.
  • All applicants have the option of going through the RPL process (recognition of Prior Learning) through Middlesex University, as part of the recruitment and selection process.  Students who meet the RPL criteria can carry forward a maximum of 60 credits at level 7 into the MSc.
  • Applicants who undertake WBH4760: Advanced Work Based Project should be working in an appropriate environment to be able to complete the project.
  • All applicants whose first language is not English are expected to demonstrate their English Language capability at the level required for post-graduate study (IELTS 6.5 or equivalent).
  • Further requirements

Enhanced IT skills and access to the internet (for distance learning).


UK and international students are eligible to apply for this course.

Academic credit for previous study or experience

If you have relevant qualifications or work experience, academic credit may be awarded towards your Middlesex University programme of study. Student who meet the criteria can carry forward a maximum of 60 credits at Level 7 into the MSc.

For further information, please speak to the Programme Leader and visit our Accreditation of Prior Learning page.

Find out more

Sign up now to receive more information about studying at Middlesex University London.

What will you study on the MSc Mental Health and Substance Use (Dual Diagnosis)?

You must achieve a maximum of 180 credits to complete this course. Those who have been successful in making a Recognised Prior Learning (RPL) claim can carry forward up to 60 credits at Level 7.

You must successfully complete two core (compulsory) modules and two optional modules in Year 1. In Year 2, students must successfully complete a literature-based dissertation or a work-based project, in addition to a research methods module. All of the modules are delivered by distance learning. The exact optional modules available will depend on cohort numbers and it may not be possible to run all the modules every year. In making decisions about options you need to consider your current role, career aspirations and personal circumstances. You will have an opportunity to discuss through the optional module choices and dissertation pathway with the Programme Leader before you make your final choices.

Target award

  • MSc Mental Health and Substance Use (Dual Diagnosis): 180 credits at level 7

Exit awards:

  • PGDip Mental Health and Substance Use (Dual Diagnosis): 120 credits at level 7
  • PGCert Mental Health and Substance Use (Dual Diagnosis): 60 credits at level 7


All modules are delivered through distance learning.

Year 1 modules

  • Core modules

    • Critical Approaches to Dual Diagnosis (30 credits) - Compulsory

      The purpose of this module is to critically explore issues influencing the approach to the care of individuals coping with co-morbid mental health and substance use conditions (i.e. dual diagnosis) with due regard to policies, research, evidenced based
      practice, and workforce development/training. Students will have the opportunity to explore the subject with due regard to international perspectives.

    • Evidence Based Interventions in Mental Health and Substance Use (30 credits) - Compulsory

      The module aims to develop the student’s knowledge and understanding of current evidence-based interventions for service users with mental health and substance use. There will be a focus on the role of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and their impact on adult mental health, the importance of current evidence-based interventions including trauma-informed interventions, the strengths-based approach, systemic family and group interventions and peer-support interventions in the context of improving outcomes for service users with mental health and substance use issues.

  • Choose two of the following optional modules

    • Motivational interviewing: Strategies for lifestyle and behavioural changes (15 Credits) - Distance learning - Optional

      Motivational interviewing is an approach to counselling which helps individuals work through ambivalence toward change. Originally developed in the drug and alcohol field, MI is now being widely applied in a variety of settings, including social services, health care, mental health, public health, and criminal justice. This module has been developed to assist students to gain mastery in the evidence for the efficacy of Motivational Interviewing and how it links to behavioural theory; and to explore its application to the student’s area of practice as part of the ‘process of change’ across a range of health and lifestyle behaviours.

    • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (15 credits) - Optional

      Students' will be encouraged to master skills in cognitive behavioural strategies and techniques, based upon critical examination of theory and practice as applied to their own work with individuals with mental health problems.

    • Risk Assessment and Safety Planning (15 credits) - Optional

      Students will be enabled to assess, reduce and positively manage risks specific to mental health - exploring clinical, social and organisational contexts of risk. Students will increase their knowledge, develop skills and master strategies to address aspects of risk.

    • Social Inclusion and Recovery in Mental Health (15 credits) - Optional

      Promoting social inclusion and recovery lies at the heart of current mental health services and care. Students will engage with contemporary theory, research and policy and will critically review service developments and synthesise information and ideas from a review of service.

    • Substance Use and Addiction Theories (15 credits) - Optional

      Using a ‘life course’ approach, this module aims to develop skills in the interpretation of different stages in the course of substance use and addiction through an examination of drug use patterns and addiction theories. It also aims to enable students to critically evaluate the different theoretical approaches and develop the abilities in applying them to policies, strategies and interventions.

    • Service Delivery and Quality Improvement (15 credits) - Optional

      This module aims to provide managers and practitioners with the opportunity to explore legislation and policy directions in public and community services. There will be a focus on the impact of the practitioner's role in leading the development of services in a way that gives high importance to quality enhancing.

    • Drugs and Crime (15 credits) - Optional

      This module aims to develop advanced skills in the application of criminological theories and concepts in relation to drugs, drug use, and drugs control and in critically analysing the relationship between drugs and crime. Students will critically evaluate the laws, policies and institutions of drugs control within their social, political and economic contexts and compare and contrast the role of the criminal justice system in responding to drugs in various countries. The module also aims to foster a critical interest in the reform of drugs control policy and institutions at both national and international levels.

    • Leadership for Public and Community Services (15 credits) - Optional

      The module aims to develop the student's knowledge and skills to enable them to work effectively within the context of leadership and service development within the workplace. Students will be facilitated to develop their own leadership role within their chosen profession, and to explore and evaluate their own leadership style. The module aims to integrate the common needs of different groups of leaders (and where relevant managers) by focussing on the theoretical underpinnings of leadership but being flexible enough to facilitate the direct application of these knowledge and skills in the workplace.

Year 2 Modules

  • Research based modules

    • Advanced Practitioner Inquiry (30 credits) - Compulsory

      This module is designed to develop students understanding of a range of advanced inquiry methodologies appropriate for practitioners, in order to design a real work based project that has clear objectives related to their own professional development or the development of practice in their settings. They will be expected to focus on specific service, organisational or practice related issues and take initiative and leadership. It will explore approaches to advanced practitioner inquiry and innovative methods appropriate for their area of practice. It will enable critical reflection upon their position as a 'practitioner or insider researcher' and the ethical implications that could arise during the project.

    • Advanced Work Based Project (60 credits) - Compulsory

      This module is a culmination of a student's Masters study and provides the opportunity to synthesise professional and academic learning. It will support students to undertake a substantial work based project that is designed to develop their own professional practice and address a practice, organisational or service issue that the student has already identified in their workplace or professional field. Building on their understanding of advanced practitioner inquiry methodologies, they will be encouraged to consider improvement and leadership strategies to support the successful management of their project and to deliver real outcomes that have the potential to transform practice.

    • Developing Research Capability (60 credits) - Compulsory

      This module aims: 1. To engage students in scholarly enquiry to develop a critical understanding of social science research 2. For the student to develop research capability through formulating and implementing a proposal for research related to their field of practice.

      MSc Mental Health and Substance Use

More information about this course

See the course specification for more information:

Optional modules are usually available at levels 5 and 6, although optional modules are not offered on every course. Where optional modules are available, you will be asked to make your choice during the previous academic year. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, or there are staffing changes which affect the teaching, it may not be offered. If an optional module will not run, we will advise you after the module selection period when numbers are confirmed, or at the earliest time that the programme team make the decision not to run the module, and help you choose an alternative module.

We are regularly reviewing and updating our programmes to ensure you have the best learning experience. We are taking what we have learnt during the pandemic and enhancing our teaching methods with new and innovative ways of learning.

We aim to model a wide range of teaching strategies and approaches on the course which you can adapt to your own setting.

How is the MSc Mental Health and Substance Use (Dual Diagnosis) taught?

Each module involves a variety of assessments including coursework, reports, case studies, viva voce assessment, digital story, critical appraisal of leadership and service-related research projects.

Once enrolled you will access the course learning materials and discussions via the University's student portal and virtual learning environment, Unihub which is available 24/7. Tutorial support will be provided in MyLearning, the university online teaching portal. Additional help will be offered via email, telephone and video conferencing to all distance learning students during term time.

Teaching and learning from 2022

We are regularly reviewing and updating our programmes to ensure you have the best learning experience. We are taking what we have learnt during the pandemic and enhancing our teaching methods with new and innovative ways of learning.

We are currently reviewing our approach to teaching and learning for 2023 entry and beyond. We've learned a lot about how to give you a quality education - we aim to combine the best of our pre-pandemic teaching and learning with access to online learning and digital resources which put you more in charge of when and how you study. We will keep you updated on this throughout the application process.

Your timetable will be built around on campus sessions using our professional facilities, with online sessions for some activities where we know being virtual will add value. We’ll use technology to enhance all of your learning and give you access to online resources to use in your own time.

The table below gives you an idea of what learning looks like across a typical week. Some weeks are different due to how we schedule classes and arrange on campus sessions.

This information is likely to change slightly for 2023 entry as our plans evolve. You'll receive full information on your teaching before you start your course.

Learning structure: typical hourly breakdown in 2021/22

Live in-person on campus learning

Contact hours per week, per level:


Live online learning

Average hours per week, per level:

3 hours

This information is likely to change slightly for 2024/25 entry as our plans evolve. You'll receive full information on your teaching before you start your course.

Definitions of terms

  • Live in-person on campus learning – This will focus on active and experiential sessions that are both:
    • Led by your tutors including seminars, lab sessions and demonstrations We'll schedule all of this for you
    • Student-led by you and other students, like small group work and presentations.
  • Live online learning – This will include lectures, tutorials and supervision sessions led by your tutor and timetabled by us. It also includes student-led group work that takes place online.
  • Tutor set learning activities – This covers activities which will be set for you by your tutor, but which you will undertake in your own time. Examples of this include watching online materials, participating in an online discussion forum, completing a virtual laboratory or reading specific texts. You may be doing this by yourself of with your course mates depending on your course and assignments. Outside of these hours, you’ll also be expected to do further independent study where you’ll be expected to learn, prepare, revise and reflect in your own time.


You have a strong support network available to you to make sure you develop all the necessary academic skills you need to do well on your course.

Our support services will be delivered online and on campus and you have access to a range of different resources so you can get the help you need, whether you’re studying at home or have the opportunity to come to campus.

You have access to one to one and group sessions for personal learning and academic support from our library and IT teams, and our network of learning experts. Our teams will also be here to offer financial advice, and personal wellbeing, mental health and disability support.

  1. Standard entry requirements
  2. International (inc. EU)
  3. How to apply
  1. UK
  2. International
  3. Additional costs
  4. Scholarships and bursaries

We’ll carefully manage any future changes to courses, or the support and other services available to you, if these are necessary because of things like changes to government health and safety advice, or any changes to the law.

Any decisions will be taken in line with both external advice and the University’s Regulations which include information on this.

Our priority will always be to maintain academic standards and quality so that your learning outcomes are not affected by any adjustments that we may have to make.

At all times we’ll aim to keep you well informed of how we may need to respond to changing circumstances, and about support that we’ll provide to you.

Other courses

Mental Health Studies MSc/PGDip / Healthcare Studies PGCert

Start: January 2024, September 2024

Duration: 2 years part-time

Code: MSc: PGB76B, PGB71C

Nursing (Mental Health) (Pre-registration programme) PGDip

Start: October 2024

Duration: 2 years full-time (subject to gaining RPL)

Code: BR60

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