Drug control in comparative perspective

This course is not offered for study in the current academic year.

Course description

Akin to crime, drugs has never been totally eliminated in our society. Should we live with drugs? Should we control drugs? Then how can we control? Different societies have different views, reflecting interesting and conflicting presumptions: punishment Vs treatment. Overly simple and one-dimensional definitions of drug is likely to produce an overly simple and one-dimensional understanding of how the problem could be and should be resolved.

This course will examine the different perspectives in looking at the issue of drug and let you form your own view as to how we should, and could deal with it in our rapidly changing society. With lectures, through sharing of stakeholders, observational visits, tutorials, etc. we will try to tease out your premises and let us confront what we know, what we believe, what we treasure.

This course is delivered in a 3 hour lecture format (with breaks).

Course learning outcomes

  1. Describe and analyze what is drugs and its impact on the society.
  2. Outline policy and practice of drug control strategies in local and international dimensions.
  3. Analyze key issues in drug control policies.


Individual essay of 2,000 (+ 200) words30%
Group Presentation: 20-min30%
Tutorial /seminar participation10%
Written examination30%

Required reading

Coomber, Ross; McElrath, Karen; Measham, Fiona and Moore, Karenza (2013). Key Concepts in Drugs and Society. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Brownstein, Henry (ed.) (2016). The Handbook of Drugs and Society. West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Paoli, Letizia; Greenfield, Victoria and Reuter, Peter (2012). ‘Change is Possible: The History of the International Drug Control Regime and Implications for Future Policymaking’ in Substance Use & Misuse, Vol.47: pp.923-935.

Recommended reading

Coomber, Ross and South, Nigel (2004). ‘Drugs, Cultures and Controls in Comparative Perspective’, in Coomber, R. and South, N. (eds.), Drug Use in Cultural Contexts ‘Beyond the West’: Tradition, Change and Post-colonialism. London: Free Association Books.

Labate, Beatriz; Cavnar, Clancy and Rodrigues, Thiago (eds.) (2016). Drug Polices and the Politics of Drugs in the Americas. San Francisco: Springer International Publishing.

MacGregor, Susanne (1999). ‘Drug Treatment Systems and Policy Frameworks: A Comparative Social Policy Perspective’, in European Addiction Research, Vol.5, No.3: pp.118-125.

Mandy, Bentham (1998). The Politics of Drug Control. New York: St Martin’s Press.(363.45 B4)

United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem (2015). Report on ‘Improving global drug policy: Comparative perspectives and UNGASS 2016’.

Video clip (Conference summary 2015)

Course co-ordinator and teachers