NB We are no longer accepting applications to this course for entry in January 2024.

Postgraduate Taught

Mad Studies - MSc

This MSc in Mad Studies course will be particularly suitable 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.

The course 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.

The course will further develop critical thinking and generate mad studies knowledge and research. The course offers a unique dialogical space to share and expand your knowledge, skills, practice and actions with public sociologists, activists and the mad community. Graduates may be suitably qualified for a range of careers involving public engagement in the public or third sector organisations.

The course is available both full and part-time and with an option to study fully online.

Why QMU?

  • A truly unique course: This is the first MSc in Mad Studies internationally. It has been designed in partnership with CAPS Independent Advocacy and academics at QMU from the Occupational Therapy and Public Sociology subject area. 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”.
  • Funding opportunities: There are some funded places for people with lived experience of mental health issues.
  • Flexible study options: Full-time, part-time, blended (part campus, part online), fully online.
  • Learn from a range of experts: 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 course. You’ll learn from academics and activists who have diverse community experience, and who are engaged with critical education, activism and innovative research.
  • Person-centred focus: The course is part of QMU’s Person-centred Practice Framework. The 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 course aims to ensure the centrality of mad studies to facilitate learning at master’s level.
  • Industry links: 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 (MSc): More information and what you will achieve

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 course 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 course 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 course 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.

How will I be taught?

Structure and exit awards

You can opt to study for the full MSc (180 credits), a PgDip (120 credits) or a PgCert (60 credits).

You can also register as an associate student to complete a single module for CPD. Contact Dr Elaine Ballantyne for more information.

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 are shared with other courses; however class size is not expected to exceed 16.

Teaching staff

You can read more about the teaching staff on this course at the bottom of this page. Please note that teaching staff is subject to change.


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

NB The modules listed are correct at time of posting (October 2022) 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.

Career opportunities

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

Mad Studies (MSc): Entry requirements and application information

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: 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.

Applying for this course

For more information on applying, or to apply for this course, please follow the links in the 'Start your application' box at the top right of this page.

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

Application deadline

Deadline is the 30 September 2023.

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

Terms and Conditions

The delivery of this course is subject to the terms and conditions set out in our 2023/24 Entry - Terms and Conditions (Postgraduate).

More information and QMU contacts

Please Contact Dr Elaine Ballantyne (Programme Leader) or Contact Admissions.


There are four scholarships attached to this course.

They include:  

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

The Scholarships are available for full time on campus students with lived experience of mental health issues who are unemployed 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.

For more information contact Dr Elaine Ballantyne (eballantyne@qmu.ac.uk).

Become your best you: study at QMU

Course Overview

Some attendance at QMU OR fully online
1-2 years year full-time OR 2-4 years part-time
Start Date
January 2024
School of Health Sciences
Subject Area
Fees & Funding
SCQF Level

Join us at one of our Postgraduate Open Events 2023

16 or 23 November 2023

We offer a number of online and in-person opportunities to meet with us to find out more about our postgraduate courses and study at QMU. 

Postgraduate Open Events - Book Now