UCC Adult courses

Substance Misuse and Addiction Studies - Dip

About This Course

Fact File

  • Title

    Substance Misuse and Addiction Studies

  • Code


  • College

    Adult Continuing Education

  • Duration

    2 years

  • Teaching Mode

    Part-Time. See Additional Teaching Mode Information for more info.

  • Qualifications


  • NFQ Level

    Level 6/7

  • Fees

    €990 per year. See Fees and Costs for full details.

  • Entry Requirements

    See Requirements for full details.

  • Closing Date

    TBC. Applications will open in Summer 2023.

  • Next Intake

    September 2023

  • Venue

    UCC Campus

  • Start Date

    September 2023

Course Outline

This part-time Diploma in Substance Misuse and Addiction Studies course invites students to engage with one of the most important contemporary issues of societal concern.  The course will provide students with an introduction to the knowledge, skills and values required to equip health and social care professionals and volunteers to loosen the grip that substance misuse and addiction has on the health and well-being of individuals, families, communities and the health, social care and criminal justice resources of the state. Students will be provided with an understanding of how history, culture, addiction theory and policy inform and shape societal discourse, service provision and practice. They will receive grounding in the theoretical knowledge, models of addiction treatment, and the practical helping skills and values that underpin ethical practice in the field. Teaching on the Diploma will draw on contributions from a variety of academic and practice disciplines from both UCC and the HSE in the areas of social science, law, public health and epidemiology, to counselling, nursing, psychology and medicine.

Year 1 Modules (30 Credits)

  • SS1834 Understanding Drugs in a Social Context (5 Credits)
  • SS1835 The Role of Drug and Alcohol Policy (5 Credits) 
  • SS1836 Theories of Addiction and Practical Models of Intervention (5 Credits)
  • SS1837 Diverse Client Presentations (5 Credits)
  • SS1838 Basic Intervention Skills (5 Credits)
  • SS1839 Substance Misuse Prevention with Young People and Families (5 Credits)

Year 2 Modules (30 Credits)

  • SS2828 Facilitating Change in One-to-One and Group Settings (5 Credits)
  • SS2829 Introduction to Motivational Interviewing (5 Credits)
  • SS2830 An Introduction to Working with Dual Diagnosis (5 Credits)
  • SS2831 Relapse Management (5 Credits)
  • SS2832 Practice Placement – Initial Assessment of Client Need, Comprehensive Assessment of Client Need, Care-planning and Working with other Professionals and Settings (10 Credits)

Additional Teaching Mode Information

Tuesday evenings from 6 - 9:00pm during both semesters and there will be a number of Saturday workshops also that run from 10:00 - 4:00pm. Teaching will take place in the UCC main campus. 

Tutorials are also offered every week from 5 - 6pm prior to lectures.

Course Practicalities

Students will attend for lectures, seminars and workshops one evening per week between 5pm and 9pm per academic year in addition to a number of Saturday workshops. Consistent with the ethos of Adult Continuing Education at UCC, students will be fully supported with a range of academic supports including writing and referencing skills and a library tour and presentation on how to access and research information. Students are also entitled to access the full range of UCC pastoral supports including Student Health & Counselling, the Chaplaincy and Disability Supports as necessary.  Students proceeding to year 2 of the Diploma will have the opportunity to undertake a placement in a recognised treatment, rehabilitation or harm reduction setting where they will be supported and supervised by an experienced practitioner.


Students on the Diploma in Substance Misuse and Addiction Studies will engage in a range of diverse and interesting assignments which demonstrate that the expected learning outcomes of various modules have been achieved. There are no end of year examinations on this course. Assignments will consist of written essays, reflective journals/portfolios, presentations, case study role-plays and real-play examples of practice, and group projects. Students will also have the opportunity to visit some relevant addiction treatment settings. In Year 2, students will be Garda vetted and will complete 150 hours of placement in a recognised treatment, rehabilitation or harm reduction setting. Students on placement will be supported and supervised by an experienced practitioner.

Who teaches the course

The programme will be jointly co-ordinated and delivered by UCC and the Health Service Executive (HSE) Cork Kerry Community Healthcare Addiction Services. Teaching staff come from academic staff in a variety of UCC Departments and Schools including Adult and Continuing Education (ACE), Applied Social Studies, Law, Applied Psychology, Epidemiology and Public Health as well as experienced HSE Addiction service personnel. HSE lecturers have expertise in substance misuse prevention, community-based and residential addiction treatment, continuing care and research, policy development and implementation, medical, nursing, psychology, mental health, counselling, social work, social care, youth work, family support, law, health promotion and improvement, community development, community work and homeless services.


Why Choose This Course

The Diploma in Substance Misuse and Addiction Studies will equip students with the baseline knowledge, skills and values necessary to work or volunteer in an area that can be very rewarding but challenging at the same time. The course will provide an introduction to the knowledge, skills and values required to equip health and social care professionals and volunteers to loosen the grip that substance misuse and addiction has on the health and well-being of individuals, families, communities and the health, social care and criminal justice resources of the state. Students on this programme will gain hands-on experience through agency visits as well as completing a placement in a recognised treatment, rehabilitation or harm reduction setting in Year 2.

Placement or Study Abroad Information

Students interested in pursuing professional accreditation with the Addiction Counsellors of Ireland may be required to take further courses of study.

Skills and Careers Information

The Diploma in Substance Misuse and Addiction Studies is designed specifically around the core theme of applying addiction theory in a wide range of statutory or voluntary community-based health and social care practice environments. The programme has in the past attracted students from these professions and backgrounds and/or students have gone on to work as:

  • Community care workers
  • Gardaí
  • People in recovery/Family members
  • EAP officers
  • Health promotion and improvement professionals
  • Education professionals
  • Sexual health information /advice workers
  • Second level educators
  • Pastoral workers
  • Third level educators
  • Prison workers
  • School guidance counsellors
  • Probation officers
  • Home-school liaison staff
  • Social care workers
  • Education training board tutors
  • Addiction Counsellors
  • Department of social protection staff
  • Youthreach tutors
  • Youth workers


  • Be at least 23 years of age by 1 January of the year of application
  • Submit a detailed application form prior to the closing date which will request applicants to present a supplemental statement indicating their reasons for applying for the course, who will support them, and the expected benefits to them personally and to their work or volunteering role
  • Applicants will be asked to include any employment or volunteering activities that may be relevant to this course as well as details of any other academic or professional training that they may have undertaken
  • Applicants will also be asked to provide the names and details of two persons who are willing to act as Referees. 
  • Applicants must satisfy Garda Vetting requirements

Applicants who are successfully shortlisted will be invited for Interview.

At interview, each applicant will be invited to:
1) discuss their application form;
2) outline their experience in the area of addiction;
3) demonstrate a level of interest in working or volunteering with those affected by substance misuse;
4) identify the potential application of the learning from the programme;
5) demonstrate their ability to cope with the academic demands of the programme;
6) demonstrate a level of self-awareness, maturity and stability, an ability to cope with emotional demands of the programme and an ability to be open and to reflect on oneself and one’s life experiences and communicate that to the interviewers.

Applicants that disclose a personal recovery process are required to be 2-years post-treatment before applying for the programme.

English Language Requirement: All applicants whose first language is not English must have attained IELTS Level 6.5 with no minimum individual sections 5.5 or the equivalent TOEFL score.

Fees and Costs

€990 per year.

For further information on fees and financial supports please click here


How Do I Apply

During your online application you will be required to upload the following documents:

  • Birth Cert or Passport
  • Passport Photograph 
  • English Language Test Report [if applicable]
  • Supplemental Document 

Please download the following link Addiction Diploma Supplemental Document and upload the completed document as part of your application. 



Year 1 Modules

  • SS1834: Understanding Drugs in a Social Context (5 credits)
    Students will examine information on all the major categories of psychopharmalogical substances licit and illicit (alcohol, antidepressants, anti-psychotics, benzodiazepines, hallucinogens, hypnotics, cannabis and cannbinoids, opiates, stimulants and new psychoactive substances). It will include routes of transmission, the impact and interactions of the most common substances misused on the physical and mental health, relationships, social and legal circumstances of those misusing substances. Students will be invited to consider substance use on a continuum of no use, to severe dependence and the impact it has on the individual, their families, communities and society. Students will critically examine historical and socio-cultural understandings, abstinence approaches, harm reduction safer injecting facilities and medical uses of controlled substances.
  • SS1835: The Role of Drug and Alcohol Policy (5 credits)
    Students will examine the historical social, cultural and political aspects of public policy and societal responses to substance misuse and addiction since the formation of the Irish state. They will engage critically with the strategic direction of International agencies and the Irish Government around drugs and alcohol. The history and impact of the local and regional drugs and alcohol task forces will be explored and the current 4-Tier system of service delivery will be critically examined. The influences on policy making such as the business sector, the community and voluntary sector, the media and public opinion will be discussed.
  • SS1836: Theories of Addiction and Practical Models of Treatment (5 credits)
    Students will examine the moral, bio-medical, disease, bio-psycho-socio-cultural model, public health and harm reduction models and approaches to understanding and treating addiction.
  • SS1837: Diverse Client Presentations (5 credits)
    Students will be introduced to pathological gambling and available treatment approaches. Sexual addiction, Internet addiction, shopping addiction and other non-substance related problematic behaviours will be explored. Students will examine the interface of substance misuse, addiction and the concepts underpinning cross addiction. Eating distress, addiction and crime, addiction and trauma, addiction and personality disorders and the various types of service provision will be examined.
  • SS1838: Basic Intervention Skills (5 credits)
    The content includes an introduction to the helping relationship and basic helping skills from Carl Rogers person-centred theory to intervention with a focus on Egan's Skilled Helper model for problem management and opportunity development. There will be an introduction to professional boundaries, record keeping and the role of ethics. Students will examine the National Rehabilitation Framework protocols and will be introduced to the motivational interviewing skills necessary to deliver screenings and brief interventions and comprehensive assessments of substance misuse problems.
  • SS1839: Substance Misuse Prevention with Young People and Families (5 credits)
    Students will be introduced to the evidence based policy measures contained in the Public Health Alcohol Bill 2017 around structural separation in retail outlets, reducing availability, advertising and minimum unit pricing. The module will introduce students to the continuum of care that includes universal (everyone in population), selected members (members of at-risk groups), and indicated (at-risk individuals) target populations for substance misuse prevention programmes. Students will learn how to identify risk and protective factors and help young people and families reduce risk and increase protective factors. Students will receive guidance on how to prepare, deliver and evaluate evidence-based substance misuse prevention programmes to young people and families with particular consideration given to child protection and welfare issues, family law and legal issues.

Year 2 Modules

  • SS2828: Facilitating Change in One-to-One and Group Settings (5 credits)
    Students will be introduced to the trans-theoretical model of change. They will learn how to apply this behavioural change framework in one-to-one, group and organisational settings. Learn to use here-and-now events and experience task and process as the ground for theoretical and experiential learning. The theory of group-work; orientation to group-work facilitation; different types of group work; group tasks and group maintenance; nature of feedback and giving and receiving feedback; stages in group life, facilitation skills, facilitation practice, personal process related to group facilitation.
  • SS2829: Introduction to Motivational Interviewing (5 credits)
    A space will be created for students to expand their current understanding, knowledge and skills around the use of MI to address substance misuse and addiction. Students will be helped to see health behaviour change as a dynamic process. They will be guided as they develop their sense of role legitimacy and role adequacy in terms of supporting those with problems as a result of alcohol and drug misuse. Students will be asked to self-evaluate, reflect on and potentially develop their own helping style and professional identity, to de-pathologise resistance, identify, explore and resolve ambivalence about change.
  • SS2830: An Introduction to Working with Dual-Diagnosis (5 credits)
    Students will explore the interface of substance misuse/addiction and common forms of mental illness. They will be introduced to the key identifiable features of those identified with a dual-diagnosis. They will be provided with an overview of the various types of mental illness that present in an addiction setting, including depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, psychosis and bi-polar affective personality disorders. An emphasis will be places on the bio-psychological model and other emergent models of contemporary care provision in the community for service users with psychiatric substance misuse disorders. Consideration will be given to the influence of alcohol and drugs on suicidal ideation/risk and suicide completion.
  • SS2831: Relapse Management (5 credits)
    Students will be introduced to the various theories and concepts that inform social learning theory of addiction. They will learn about the role that high-risk situations, people and places play in relapse and relapse management work with service users. Students will be introduced to the abstinence violation effect and how it can impact on motivation to change. Students will be introduced to a variety of cognitive behavioural coping skill strategies used to help service users to identify, avoid, present and/or manage relapse should it occur.
  • SS2832: Practice Placement - Initiating, Developing, Maintaining and Ending a Helping Relationship (10 credits)
    Students will be orientated to the service policies, practices and procedural guidelines. Students will have an opportunity to shadow an experienced practitioner and, depending on the individual and circumstances, may have an opportunity to carry out practical tasks in the agency. Students wil learn about receiving referrals and preparing for initial contact with a service user. Meeting with and engaging a service user while developing a rapport with regard given to the context and location. Students will be exposed to practice while under supervision, the opening of a session, goal setting, prioritising within a practice cycle of exploring and understanding service user needs and facilitating a change process.

Year 3 Modules

Year 4 Modules

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact