Drugs and Society

Module code: SY3090
Module co-ordinator: Jerry Coulton

In this module we will critically evaluate the debates surrounding the classification of 'drugs' in contemporary lay, academic, and policy discussions. We will assess the historical emergence of certain intoxicants, including how the use of psychoactive substances changes in relation to broader social developments.

Together we will discuss the social consequences of different regimes of regulation surrounding the use of illicit substances and examine the concept of addiction, particularly the prevailing medicalised conceptions of this term.

We will review the contributions of a range of disciplines – notably sociology, psychology, neuroscience, and pharmacology – to contemporary understandings of drugs and society. We will also explore the inter-relationship between social, psychological, and physiological processes in the production of certain drug effects.


  • 18 one-hour lectures
  • 8 one-hour seminars


  • Exam, 3 hours (100%)