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Module Specifications

Archived Version 2014 - 2015

Module Title Drugs in Society
Module Code NS141
School School of Nursing and Human Sciences

Online Module Resources

Module Co-ordinatorDr Mark PhilbinOffice NumberH245b
NFQ level 8 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None

In contemporary societies, controversies abound in relation to what counts as proper and improper drug use as well as how drugs should be controlled, regulated, supplied, encouraged and discouraged. Within this module, these controversies are explored through a focus on arguments about the normality of drug use, harms of drug use, medicalisation, and human enhancement.

Learning Outcomes

1. Examine the normalisation thesis as it relates to recreational and illicit drug use.
2. Explore the value of a 'rational approach' to the evaluation of drug-related harms.
3. Consider the relationship between drug use and medicalisation.
4. Explore the ethics of drug use in relation to human enhancement.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture10Participation in lecture-discussion
Debate18Preparations for speaking in a debate
Debate4Participation in class debates on controversial issues related to drugs
Tutorial4In support of the debates and essy writing.
Assignment Completion8Preparation of short papers focused on each of the debate motions.
Assignment Completion30Preparation of an essay examining one debate motion in detail.
Independent Study51For general reading and Moodle use
Total Workload: 125

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Normalisation and drug use
We consider the contention that recreational and illicit drug use are parts of everyday life for many people in contemporary societies. More especially, we examine the various policy and ethical implications of the idea of drug use as "normal" along with opposing viewpoints.

Drug-related harms
We explore the notion of a "rational approach" to the evaluation of drug-related harms and the various related implications for policy and service provision. Also, we consider disputes about individual freedom and state intervention to do with drug-related harms.

Medicalisation and medication
We examine the claim that there is a continuing expansion of what counts as illness in contemporary societies and that the uses of drugs prescribed as medication are contributing to this trend. In addressing these issues, we pay particular attention to prescriptions and uses of psychiatric drugs.

Drugs and human enhancement
We analyse ideas about "becoming more than oneself" through the use of drugs as well as debates about human enhancement in sporting performance, cognitive function, moral development and "cosmetic neurology."

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
Reassessment Requirement
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
Indicative Reading List

  • David Healy,: 0, Pharmageddon, 9780520270985
  • Paul Manning (Editor): 0, Drugs And Popular Culture, 9781843922100
  • McKeganey, NP: 2011, Controversies in Drugs Policy and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills,
  • David Nutt,: 0, Drugs Without the Hot Air, 9781906860165
  • Paul O'Mahony: 0, The Irish war on drugs, 9780719077906
  • Angus Bancroft: 2009, Drugs, intoxication and society, Polity, Cambridge, 9780745635460
  • Philip Bean,: 0, Legalising drugs, 9781847423757
  • Tom Carnwath and Ian Smith: 0, Heroin century, 9780415278997
  • Paul Griffiths (Foreword), Jane Fountain (Editor), Dirk J. Korf (Editor): 0, Drugs in Society, 9781846190933
  • Glen R. Hanson, Peter J. Venturelli, Annette E. Fleckenstein,: 0, Drugs And Society, 9781449613693
  • John Harris,: 0, Enhancing Evolution: The Ethical Case for Making Better People, 9780691148168
  • David Healy: 2004, Let them eat Prozac, New York University Press, New York, 0814736696
  • David A. Karp: 2006, Is it me or my meds?, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 9780674021822
  • Peter D. Kramer: 1993, Listening to Prozac, Penguin, New York, N.Y., U.S.A., 0670841838
  • Tim Pilcher,: 0, e, the incredibly strange history of ecstasy, 9780762431847
  • Sue Pryce,: 0, Fixing Drugs, 9780230359710
  • Dominic Streatfeild: 2002, Cocaine, Virgin, London, 9780753506271
  • Thomas Szasz: 1996, Our right to drugs, Syracuse Unversity Press, Syracuse, NY, 9780815603337
  • Robert Whitaker,: 0, Anatomy of an Epidemic, 9780307452429
Other Resources

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ECSAStudy Abroad (Engineering & Computing)
ECSAOStudy Abroad (Engineering & Computing)
HMSAStudy Abroad (Humanities & Soc Science)
HMSAOStudy Abroad (Humanities & Soc Science)
SHSAStudy Abroad (Science & Health)
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