Sociology and Criminology

Drugs, Crime and Deviant Leisure

Module code: L3127A
Level 5
15 credits in autumn semester
Teaching method: Lecture, Seminar
Assessment modes: Essay

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.

Module learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of criminological and sociological theories relating to drugs, deviant leisure and their relationship to crime
  • Analytically apply criminological theory and research findings to current debates around drugs and crime
  • Employ macro and micro scales of analysis, from global drug markets and legislation to drug use and leisure practices in everyday life, and appreciate the connections between them
  • Critically evaluate key public health, policy and law enforcement responses to drugs in the UK and other policy jurisdictions