SP472      Half Unit
Illegal Drugs and Their Control: Theory, Policy and Practice

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Michael Shiner OLD.2.34


This course is available on the LLM (extended part-time), LLM (full-time), MSc in Criminal Justice Policy, MSc in International Social and Public Policy, MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Development), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (LSE and Fudan), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Migration), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Non-Governmental Organisations), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Research) and MSc in Regulation. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

All Social Policy Courses are ‘Controlled Access’. Please see the link below for further details on the allocation process.



Some familiarity with criminology or sociology is preferable but not essential

Course content

This multi-disciplinary course draws on sociology, psychology, criminology and law to examine the place and meaning of illegal drug use in late modern societies and associated policy responses. It begins by considering drug use and subcultural formations; the ‘normalisation’ of drug use; drug tourism; the role of addiction; and the organisation of drug markets. It then goes onto consider the making of drugs policy; drugs, policing and the law; treatment and harm reduction; drugs as a development and human rights issue; decriminalisation and alternatives to prohibition.


Courses in Social Policy will follow the Teaching Model which has been adopted by the Department of Social Policy during the period of the pandemic. This is outlined HERE: https://www.lse.ac.uk/social-policy/Current-Students/teaching-in-the-department-of-social-policy

This course will be taught through a combination of either a recorded lecture plus a follow-up Q and A session or a ‘live’ on-line lecture; and classes/seminars of 1-1.5 hours (with size and length of classes/seminars depending on social distancing requirements).

Further information will be provided by the Course Convenor in the first lecture of the course.

There will be an essay writing skills workshop run during reading week.

The course will be delivered in Lent term.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to submit a formative essay upon which they will recieve feedback.

Indicative reading

  • Aldridge, J., Measham, F., and Williams, L. (2011) Illegal Leisure Revisited: Changing Patterns of Alcohol and Drug Use in Adolescents and Young Adults, London: Routledge.
  • Bean, P. (2008) Drugs and Crime, Cullompton: Willan.
  • R. Hughes, R. Lart., and P. Higate (2006) Drugs: Policy and Politics, Maidenhead: Open University press.
  • Klein, A. (2008) Drugs and the World, London: Reaktion.
  • MacCoun, R.J., and Reuter, P. (2001) Drug War Heresies: Learning from Other Vices, Times and Places, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Shiner, M. (2009) ‘Drug Use and Social Change: The Distortion of History, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • M. Simpson, T. Shildrick and R. MacDonald (2007) Drugs in Britain: Supply, Consumption and Control, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Stevens, A. (2011) Drugs Crime and Public Health: The Political Economy of Drug Policy, London: Routledge.


Essay (100%) in the LT.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2020/21: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Controlled access 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills