Module code: SOC2078

Module Overview

Within this module students will explore the relationship between drugs and wider society. Students will delve into what constitutes a ‘drug’ and will consider the boundaries between health and illness, licit and illicit drugs.  Students will be equipped to bring a critical lens to topics such as drug markets and recovery; and will develop a sociological understanding of why people take drugs and the ‘effects’ they have.  Throughout the module students will be encouraged to take a global perspective and consider how the relationship between drugs and society is historically and socio-culturally variable. Students will also increase their employability through working in groups to produce a digital deliverable.

Module provider


Module Leader

MEADOWS Robert (Sociology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 106

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

  • Patterns and prevalence

  • Moral panics/Drug scares

  • Why do people take drugs?

  • What can sociology add to understandings of addiction?

  • Drug, set and setting and ‘drug effects’

  • The relationship between crime and drugs

  • Drug dealers and drug markets

  • Recovery

  • Synthetic drugs

  • Lifestyle drugs

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Pre-Recorded group presentation 40
Coursework Essay 2000 words 60

Alternative Assessment

The alternative assessment for the group presentation is an individual 3-minute pre-recorded presentation

Assessment Strategy

 The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate that they have met the learning outcomes associated with this module.


The assessments offer students the opportunity to demonstrate that they have an understanding of core concepts and can apply these to current debates, issues and policy responses. Students will also develop employability skills, resilience and resourcefulness through working together on a digital deliverable.



Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • A pre-recorded group presentation (addressing learning outcomes 1, 2, 3 and 4)

  • A 2000 word essay (addresses learning outcomes 2, 3 and 4)


Creating a recorded group presentation

Each group will be allocated a drug to present on. As a group they will prepare a sociocultural view of that drug. Specific questions to focus on will include: (i) To what extent is our attitude towards [drug] historically and socio-cultural variable?  (ii) To what extent can contemporary reactions to the drug be classified according to normalization, moral panics/drug scares? Why? (iii) To what extent does sociology help us understand why people take [drug] and the effect that it has? Why? How?.  Students will be expected to draw on literature and synthesize this into an argument. They will also be encouraged to consider making reference to other forms of evidence – such as media portrayals, official documents and official statistics. Students will record their presentation and we will come together to listen to them all during one of the scheduled sessions.



The emphasis here will be on exploring a contemporary issue in depth. Questions will encourage students to take a global perspective.


Formative assessment and feedback

Both assessments are ‘workshopped’ continuously in timetabled sessions and students will receive feedback on initial ideas and discussions. In addition, activities embedded throughout the module are explicitly linked to the summative assessments and provide moments of formative feedback.

Module aims

  • Enable students to bring a critical lens to topics such as recovery, drug use, drug effects, crime and drugs, drug markets
  • Prepare students to critically engage with current policy and practice surrounding 'drugs'
  • Develop students' employability, resilience and resourcefulness by providing a space for them to work together to create a digital deliverable

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Students will develop an understanding of key debates about what a 'drug' is and be able to evaluate a wide range of theoretical perspectives which seek to explain drug use in contemporary society KC
002 Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of how constructions of 'drugs' and 'drug users' shape our responses to them KCPT
003 Students will be able to analyse current debates about licit and illicit drugs KCPT
004 Students will be enhance their employability and resourcefulness by working together to create a digital deliverable PT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to equip students with the knowledge and analytical/practical skills to be able to evaluate contemporary understandings of, and responses to, drugs.


Weekly lectures and seminars are designed to enable students to explore core concepts and bring these to bear on key questions. For the first 5 weeks activities help students prepare for their group presentation by inviting them to consider how topics covered relate to their presentation drug.  Throughout the course activities centre on current issues– and include class debates, quizzes, poll everywhere and group ‘games’.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: SOC2078

Other information

The Department of Sociology is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability, and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills, and capabilities in all these areas, as highlighted throughout this module descriptor. A summary of how this is achieved for each of the five key pillars is provided below:


  • Digital capabilities: As well as coming together to work on delivering a digital product, students will encounter a range of platforms across the module – including SurreyLearn and poll everywhere.
  • Employability: Students will be supported to enhance their employability throughout the module. They will gain knowledge of contemporary policy and practice. The assessments will also help them develop skills in synthesising evidence to critically consider how best we can respond to current debates and issues.  Throughout the module students reflect on the role of professionals which helps develop an understanding of relevant employability issues.
  • Resourcefulness and resilience/ Global and cultural capabilities: Asking students to work in different ways throughout the module will contribute to the development of resourcefulness and resilience (by having to work together to complete a task), and global and cultural capabilities (by having to work with others from diverse learning, cultural, and demographic, backgrounds).  

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Criminology BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Criminology and Sociology BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Sociology BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2025/6 academic year.