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BASS Philosophy and Criminology

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Drugs and Society

Unit code CRIM30601
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Social Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


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

Teaching in academic year 20/21 will reflect both University policy and local and national lockdown restrictions operating at the time of delivery. We will offer face-to-face teaching where possible and provide a like for like on-line experience for those unable to be on campus. Our teaching models will be flexible and allow us to adapt to changing conditions, however, the common intention across units is to provide (1) media, activities and other learning material that should be engaged with before scheduled teaching; (2) a timetabled 2-hour online lecture/workshop slot used for a range of online Q&A and follow-up activities; (3) a timetabled weekly 1-hour seminar/activity slot that will be face-to-face if possible and ‘live’ online if not/preferred; (4) weekly opportunity for 1:1 support. In total, there will be the opportunity for up to 30 hours of contact time.

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 (3500 words)

Feedback methods

Feedback on learning progress is provided on an ongoing basis as part of workshops/seminars. Formative feedback is provided on an essay outline submitted prior to the last week of the course.

Recommended reading

There is not a set textbook for the course. The majority of the reading is electronically available in academic journals, eBooks, and official documents, which can be accessed through Blackboard. Prior to the course, we recommend the following books to inspire your interest in the general topic:

Gage, S. (2020) Say Why To Drugs: Everything You Need to Know About the Drugs We Take and Why We Get High. London: Hodder and Stoughton.

Hari, J. (2019) Chasing the Scream: The Search for the Truth About Addiction. London: Bloomsbury. 

We also recommend these textbooks, which cover many of the topics we discuss on the course.

Barton, A. (2011) Illicit Drugs: Use and Control. London: Routledge.

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

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
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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