Drugs and Culture SOCIO4068

  • Academic Session: 2019-20
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2 (Alternate Years)
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

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.


20 contact hours over the course of a single semester. This will normally consist of 2 hours per week and may be a combination of lectures and seminars/workshops.

Requirements of Entry

In order to take this course as part of your sociology honours programme, you need to have met the requirements for entry into our Honours Programme. This means achieving a grade of 'D' or better in Sociology 1A and Sociology 1B and a 'C' or better in Sociology 2A and Sociology 2B. You also have to comply with the College of Social Science regulations for progression to Honours.

Excluded Courses





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 chose one on a topic that is different from their assessed essay. Students will normally receive feedback on their assessed essay before the exam.

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are not normally available for courses which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate 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 of Course

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.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.