Drugs, Crime and Deviant Leisure (L3127A)

15 credits, Level 5

Autumn teaching

Taking a broadly cultural-criminological approach, this module will examine the multifaceted concept of drugs and drug use.

We will consider it as a cultural phenomenon, a public health concern, a problem for national and international policymakers, a criminal justice issue, and a part of a larger category of transgressive and ‘deviant’ leisure practices.

Discussions will be grounded in case studies of particular substances and the cultures and public conversations around them, from the highly stigmatised to the borderline legal. Topics to be addressed include:

  • local, global and online drug markets
  • the role of drugs in the night-time economy
  • public health and harm reduction approaches
  • drugs, criminal justice, race and class
  • the impact of international drug policy on drug-producing countries in the global South.

You will be encouraged to think critically and analytically about a variety of public health, legislative and law enforcement responses to the issue of drugs, their underlying assumptions and their current and potential outcomes; and to question the fraught category of ‘drugs’ itself.


50%: Lecture
50%: Seminar


100%: Written assessment (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 20 hours of contact time and about 130 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2023/24. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to COVID-19, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: