Postgraduate Taught

MSc Mad Studies

This new Mad Studies Programme at Queen Margaret University (QMU) it is the first of its kind internationally. It has been designed in partnership with CAPS Independent Advocacy and academics at (QMU) from Occupational Therapy and Public Sociology. It has developed from the ongoing “Oor Mad History" project at CAPS and the Mad Studies short course at QMU titled “Mad Peoples History and identity”.

This MSc course will be particularly suitable for you if you are a graduate with lived experience of mental health issues engaged in the mad movement and or mental health organisations within the third or public sectors. You may be a student, volunteer, activist or employee who wants to learn how Mad Studies theory and research can meaningfully contribute to your academic skills, activism and work. It will also be suitable for you if you are a professional who is looking to expand your knowledge, skills and practice through single CPD modules in Mad Studies.

With part-time and full-time options, Mad Studies is suitable for people from local, national and international contexts, who wish to further develop critical thinking, generate Mad Studies knowledge and research. There is a campus based route and an online route available. Your studies will be driven by regular engagement with activists and educators from the mad community and the close sharing of insights with your peers on the programme. You’ll learn from academics and activists who have diverse community experience, and who are engaged with critical education, activism and innovative research.

Why QMU?

  • This is the first Mad Studies MSc Internationally.
  • There are some funded places for people with lived experience of mental health issues.
  • It is a unique dialogical space to share and expand your knowledge, skills, practice and actions with public sociology, activists and the mad community.
  • Learn from a team with a wide range of academic backgrounds and experience in community settings outside the university, including the mad movement, young people, environmental campaigns, community education, gender justice and queer activism.

About the course

Mad Studies is an emerging academic discipline that explores the global knowledge that has emerged from the mad movement. This body of knowledge includes the exploration of the dominant understandings of madness. It examines individual and collective experiences of madness. It offers a critique of the mental health service landscape and the cultural and socio political responses experienced by the mad community. It evaluates activist responses and the creation of mad knowledge and action.

What is central to the philosophy of this MSc Mad Studies programme is the importance of the mad community critiquing the dominant discourses on madness by creating its own discourses, spaces, partnerships, alternatives and organisations. At its analytic core Mad Studies should have mad people, mad issues and mad culture.

As a student on this programme you will be part of a diverse and intersecting community of learners that include people with lived experience and members of the mad community, public sociology students and professionals from the public and third sector. You will explore the potential impact of Mad Studies in diverse contexts.

This course offers you the opportunity to engage with diverse public groups and to reflect critically on how Mad Studies can contribute to work for social justice and change. You will study what is distinctive about Mad Studies and Public Sociology and the methods of engagement and research of the disciplines.

The MSc Mad Studies programme draws on the experiences of Mad Studies scholars and activists throughout the world and involves teaching by academics from a range of disciplines in which Mad Studies is relevant. Lecturers are engaged in research, education and activism with various communities within society.
The programme is embedded as an integrated pathway on an existing master’s framework for person-centred practice (PCPF), in partnership with CAPS Independent Advocacy, Occupational Therapy and Public Sociology. The PCP framework offers a person-centred approach to learning, fostered through four processes of engagement: experimentation, collaboration, critical discourse and evidence-informed perspectives. Specifically, the MSc programme aims to ensure the centrality of Mad Studies to facilitate learning at master’s level.

Exit awards

MSc (180 credits)/ PgDip (120 credits)/ PgCert (60 credits)


To obtain a specific postgraduate award at QMU you must complete a number of credit-bearing modules. You can opt to study for the full MSc, a PgDip or a PgCert. You can also register as an associate student to complete a single module for CPD.

Teaching, learning and assessment

You will attend lectures and seminars, work in groups on campus and online as well as carry out independent learning. There is a blended learning approach that will involve you engaging in online modules and sessions. You will be expected to participate in discussions, collaboratively develop ideas and engage with experiential learning. It is particularly expected that you will be engaged with a community either through personal experiences, employment or voluntary commitment, to reflect on the Mad Studies potential contribution to that context.

We offer a range of stimulating assessment methods, including blogs, reflections on practice, live debates, group work essays and presentations, posters as well as individual presentations, essays and a research project that reflect your experiences, interests and and contexts.

Teaching hours and attendance

Each module will require you to attend classes and carry out independent work. Most modules consist of three to six hours of class time each week of the semester and will involve input, critical reading, debate and reflection on experience. Where possible, all teaching takes place over two days per week. Your specific timetable will depend on whether you study full-time or part-time. All  modules are also available by distance learning.

Class sizes

Some of the modules in this programme are shared with other programmes; however class size is not expected to exceed 16.


Links with industry / professional bodies

There are opportunities to apply your own learning to your context .Teaching staff have a range of links with community, voluntary sector and campaign groups in civil society. This has included CAPS Independent Advocacy, Friends of the Earth, Glasgow Association for Mental Health, the Workers’ Educational Association, the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, and various faith-based, trade union and European social policy organisations. We also work in partnership with a range of activists within the mad movement nationally and internationally.


  • Mad Studies: An introduction to Mad studies that critiques the history of how madness has been constructed – religious, medical, social, ‘common sense’ constructions and explores the construction of knowledge and social movement activism (20 credits)
  • Interrogating Mad Studies: To critically engage with current issues and debates in Mad Studies and to identify spaces for effective activism and professional practice (20 credits)
  • Theory & Practice of Person-centred Health & Wellbeing: A shared module within the PCPF that critique different philosophical perspectives of personhood, and the concepts, principles and theories underpinning person-centred practice (20 credits)
  • Principles of Public Sociology: an introduction to social analysis (20 credits)
  • Public Sociology Practice: how social analysis contributes to a range of professional, community action and social movement practices (20 credits)
  • You will also complete at least 20 credits as an elective from a range of options or by self-study
  • Dissertation: Identify a relevant topic related to Mad Studies with potential for change, innovation, development or for systematic inquiry (60 credits)

The modules listed are correct at time of posting (Nov 2020) but are subject to change. In the event that modules change, QMU will seek to use reasonable endeavours to ensure that there is no detrimental impact on students.

Single modules for CPD

Register as an associate student to study single modules in areas of interest. Contact Elaine Ballantyne ( for more information.



There are four scholarships attached to this programme.

They include:  

  • Kathryn Church Scholarship
  • David Reville Scholarship and
  • two Thrive Scholarships.

The Scholarships are available for students with lived experience of mental health issues who are unemployed, on benefits or on the minimal or working wage and do not have a Master’s degree.  

The Scholarships cover fees and are only available to Home and UK students at this time.

Scholarships will not be awarded/ confirmed to applicants until after the course application closing date (30 September 2021).

For more information contact Dr Elaine Ballantyne (




Graduates of Mad Studies may be suitably qualified for a range of careers involving public engagement in the public or third sector organisations.

Entry requirements

Normally, an honours degree or equivalent.

Degree and/or relevant experience of engagement with communities or public groups. We will consider applications from people without a degree but with significant experience of community work or similar, and who can show that they are able to study at postgraduate level.

International: Where your degree or equivalent has not been studied in English, you will be required to provide evidence of English language competence at no less than IELTS 6.5 with no individual component score below 6.0.

Application deadline

Deadline is the 30 September 2021.

This course has limited places. We advise applicants to apply early in order to be considered.

Please contact the Programme Leader Dr Elaine Ballantyne ( before submitting your application.


More information and contacts

Contact Admissions ( or Dr Elaine Ballantyne ( on tel: +44(0)131 474 0000

Fees and transitionary scholarships for postgraduate EU students in 21/22 and 22/23

As part of our management of the Brexit transition, for many of our courses, including this one, we have introduced an EU transitional scholarship for EU full-time postgraduate students commencing their studies on campus in academic years 2021/22 and 2022/23. This provides a 40% discount on international tuition fees. The scholarship is available to EU students for whom the international fee rate applies and covers the courses marked with a # in the Postgraduate Fees – Full-Time Study section of our Fees page. This transitional scholarship is not applicable to students from the Republic of Ireland, who will continue to be eligible for the home fee rate.

Please Note:

The delivery of this course is subject to the terms and conditions set out in our 2021/22 Entry - Terms and Conditions (Postgraduate).