Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Title Drugs, Crime and Society
Code SOCI339
Coordinator Professor FC Measham
Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2023-24 Level 6 FHEQ First Semester 15


This module aims to:
1. Stimulate students' interest in, and enthusiasm for, the field of drug studies by introducing them to current debates, paradigms and perspectives within the field and exploring concepts underlying the epidemiology, criminalisation and consequences of drug use, supply, trafficking and manufacture;
2. Encourage students to develop a critical understanding of issues relating to drugs, crime, and ‘drug problems’ within criminological and multi-disciplinary frameworks;
3. Use critical analysis of key debates about drugs and ‘drug problems’ to explore the contested nature of ‘knowledge’ in this field;
4. Explore academic, policy and popular representations of drugs within their historical and socio-cultural context;
5. Build upon and further develop knowledge and critical understanding gained from previous modules of study.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Students will be able to critically appreciate the ways in which relevant criminological and multi-disciplinary perspectives can be applied to the study of illegal drugs and crime

(LO2) Students will be able to critically appreciate a range of theoretical and empirical studies of illegal drugs and the methodological and ethical challenges to their completion

(LO3) Students will gain a knowledge and critical understanding of contemporary debates about illegal drugs, ‘drug problems’ and associated crime including the nature and role of the media and internet

(LO4) Students will gain a critical understanding of how historical and socio-cultural circumstances have influenced how we view drugs and ‘drug problems’ and associated crime in contemporary society.

(S1) Critical thinking and problem solving - Critical analysis

(S2) Critical thinking and problem solving - Evaluation

(S3) Understanding of inter-disciplinary perspectives

(S4) Communication skills – academic writing

(S5) Ability to make links with other modules to enhance understanding

(S6) Time management and organisational skills

(S7) Information Skills - Ability to gather and critically analyse appropriate information

(S8) Communication skills – Ability to construct systematic and coherent written arguments



Indicative topics:-

• Introduction: The regulation, categorisation & criminalisation of psychoactive drugs
• The History Debate: The historical development of prohibition & the ‘British system’
• The Addiction Debate: Addiction theory, the medical model & the ‘myth’ of addiction
• The Drugs-Crime Debate: ‘Drug problems’, social exclusion & inequality
• The Normalisation Debate: Adolescent recreational drug use in contemporary society
• The Gender Debate: ‘Doing gender’, doing drugs
• The Supply Debate: Differentiated markets and county lines
• The Subcultures/Club Cultures Debate: Dance club cultures and dance tourism
• The Medical Cannabis Debate: The journey to legal access to cannabis
• The NPS Debate: New Psychoactive Substances, cryptomarkets and control in the internet age
• The Global Prohibition Debate: Future policy directions – could Portugal, Uruguay or the US lead the way?

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Teaching Method 1: Lectures
Hybrid - asynchronous pre-recorded lectures

Description: Weekly lectures introduce students to key topics and concepts as well as key texts associated with these; provide the framework within which to explore key academic debates and themes in the study of illegal drugs and ‘drug problems’; and stimulate students to think critically and in new ways about the subject of drugs. These debates are embedded within criminological and sociological theories as well as illustrating the cross disciplinary nature of the drugs field.

Attendance Recorded: No

Teaching Method 2: Workshops
Fortnightly workshops to be delivered fortnightly in weeks 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10

Description: Workshops allow for more interactive and in-depth analysis of the key topics and concepts in smaller classes and serve to consolidate learning from the lectures and associated recommended readings through a variety of small group discussions, set tasks , debates and presentations. Workshops support overall learning in this module as well as preparation for coursework.

Self-Directed Learning Hours: 126

Description: Research activity, developing academic writing skills, wider reading to support the module, seminar and essay preparation

Mixed, hybrid delivery, with social distancing on campus,

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours 11


Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 129


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Assessment 1 Assessment Title: Essay Duration / Size: 2,500 words Weighting: 100% Reassessment Opportunity: Yes Penalty for Late Submission: Standard UoL penalty applies Anonymous Assessment    100       

Recommended Texts

Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.