Course Description

Course Name

Drugs and Culture

Session: VGSS3120

Hours & Credits

20 Scotcat Credits

Prerequisites & Language Level


Short Description
What is a drug? Why are some drugs illegal in some places but not others? What is the significance of drug classifications? How do people actually take drugs? What happens when a drug is taken in new ways and in new social contexts? These are some of the questions that we will address in this module through an exploration of anthropological accounts of drug production and consumption around the globe. Through critically examining anthropological analyses of the drugs trade, both global and local, we unpack a series of questions around health and well-being, creating and sustaining communities (including communities of recovery), violence and everyday life and living with the forces of globalisation. This is open to both Sociology and Anthropology students.
Course Aims
The general aims of the course follow from the our honours programmes aim of developing a sound knowledge and critical understanding of the academic disciplines of Sociology and Anthropology. In keeping with this, the Honours programme as a whole aims to help you develop increasingly advanced conceptual and analytical skills within the disciplines of Sociology and Anthropology. The course aims to allow you to:
  • Provide a sound knowledge and critical understanding of the anthropology of drugs and drug use;
  • Enable you to reflect critically on contemporary debates around drugs and drug use;
  • Explore different models of addiction and their policy implications;
  • Enable you to enhance your transferrable and inter-personal skills, particularly in communication, time management, individual and group research work, critical appraisal of current issues, and the informed use of information technology;
  • Provide you with a wide range of skills that will meet the demands of the modern labour market.
Intended Learning Outcomes
By the end of this course, students should be able to:
  • Articulate a critical understanding of the complexities surrounding the idea of substances as ?drugs?;
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the ethical, methodological and policy issues raised by anthropological research on drugs and drug use;
  • Discuss and critically compare the ways in which anthropologists have researched and analysed drug production, trafficking and consumption;
  • Structure ideas effectively both orally and in written forms, work effectively independently and in groups, and develop effective time management skills.
This course will be assessed by a 3000-word essay (60%) and a one-hour, one-question exam (40%). Students will have a choice of exam questions, but must choose one on a topic that is different from their assessed essay. Students will normally receive feedback on their assessed essay before the exam.

*Course content subject to change