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School of Social Sciences

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BAEcon Economics
Learn how the social sciences can help you to understand today's world.

BAEcon Economics

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Drugs and Society

Unit code LAWS30601
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Law
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


1 Introduction, defining drugs and drug myths

2 Trends in illegal drug use and the normalisation debate

3 Tobacco and alcohol

4 Theories of drug use (1) and moral panics

5 Theories of drug use (2) and dance drugs

6 The crime connection: Drug use and drug markets

7 Adult recreational drug use

8 Novel psychoactive drugs, old and new psychedelics

9 Legalisation

10 Drug treatment and recovery




This module aims to develop a multi-perspective understanding of drug use, drugs markets and drug policy in the UK and elsewhere by enabling students to apply sociological, historical, psychological and cultural perspectives.

Learning outcomes


Teaching and learning methods

20 hours lecture, 10 hours seminar, 10 hours independent learning, 10 drop in/feedback hours. Weekly two hour lectures provide a background to the subject and the Course Director will be available in weekly drop in/feedback hours to answer student queries. Weekly seminars are organised into a series of discussions in which sub groups develop and present arguments against each other. 

There is not a set text book for the course and the vast majority of the reading is electronically available in academic journals, eBooks, and official documents, which can be accessed through Blackboard.

Knowledge and understanding

- Develop nuanced research and theory-informed understanding of drugs, drug use, drug markets and drug policy in the UK and elsewhere.

Intellectual skills

- Research, analyse and communicate in an informed and critical way, theoretical explanations and empirical and policy findings concerning drugs, drug use, drugs markets and drug policy.

Practical skills

- Discuss, illustrate, debate and evaluate key points/perspectives and communicate these in a clear and effective way.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

- Development of group discussion/argumentation skills
- Development of essay writing skills

Assessment methods

100% coursework (4000 words)


Feedback methods

Feedback on learning progress is provided on an ongoing basis as part of seminars.
Formative feedback is provided by seminar takers on an essay outline submitted for seminar 10. 

Recommended reading

Barton (2011) Illicit Drugs: Use and Control

Simpson et al (2007) (eds) Drugs in Britain: Supply, Consumption and Control

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 0

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Judith Aldridge Unit coordinator
Lisa Williams Unit coordinator

Additional notes

This course is offered to all students university wide.

Pre-requisites: None.

see Law School undergraduate timetable page

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