Drugs Across Cultures - 2016

This unit contains mature content including Drug use and may not be suitable for some students.
Any student under the age of 16 who would like to enrol in this unit must first complete a Parental Consent Form.

Unit summary


  • Level of Study: Undergraduate Level 1
  • Study load: 0.125 EFTSL
  • Delivery method: Fully Online
  • Prerequisites: Yes
  • Duration: 13 weeks
  • Government loans available: FEE-HELP, HECS-HELP
  • Availability for 2016: SP1 , SP3
  • Availability for 2017: Sem1 , Sem2
  • Assessment: Essay (40%) , Non-Invigilated Exam (40%) - Learn more

Unit provided by

2016 Fees
Domestic 782.00
HECS 782.00
International 1,032.00

This unit was previously known as ANT110 Drugs Across Cultures.

Using anthropological and ethnographic studies, this unit focuses mainly on the social and cultural contexts of drug use, both legal and illegal. The unit is also concerned with economic and political factors influencing the production and distribution of drugs and the way in which these processes are enmeshed in a global economy.

Topics include: the international traffic in opium/heroin and cocaine in the Golden Triangle of mainland South-east Asia and in South America and the way this traffic intermeshes with regional politics and local tribal, peasant and commercial systems of production and exchange; the social history of drugs in the US, UK and Australia; youth culture and drugs in the West; AIDS and intravenous drug use; addiction and treatment; drugs and the law; the global political economy of pharmaceuticals, particularly contraceptives, erectile dysfunction drugs, antiretrovirals in the age of AIDS; and the placebo effect.

At the completion of this unit students will:

  1. acquire a basic understanding of the pharmacology of legal and illicit drugs and the physical, psychological and social aspects of addiction
  2. gain familiarity with ethnographic approaches to drug use, i.e. drug use in small group/community settings, including the ritual and symbolic aspects of drug use
  3. be able to understand the impact of broad social, political and economic forces on drug use and on social perceptions of drugs, including the influence of gender, class and race on public images of drugs and on legislation as well as the influence of local, regional and global factors on drug production and distribution
  4. be able to clarify their position on drugs and to make informed and responsible decisions about social policies and strategies relating to drug use
  5. be able to apply and adapt anthropological knowledge to real world issues.

Generic skills

In addition to the specific unit learning objectives, this unit offers an opportunity to develop generic skills in the following areas:

  1. research skills through active reading, analysis, and contextualisation of scholarly materials
  2. essay-writing skills, enabling you to organise points and arguments in a scholarly writing manner with appropriate citation
  3. critical analysis and creative thinking skills through the research assignment
  4. computer skills through the unit's extensive use of on-line resources
  5. enhance organisational and time management skills.
  • Essay (40%)
  • Non-Invigilated Exam (40%)
  • Quiz — Online midterm test (20%)

Equivalent units

You cannot enrol in this unit if you have successfully completed any of the following unit(s) because they are considered academically equivalent:

  • ANT110 — Drugs Across Cultures

If you have no prior university experience, you should complete BAR100 Academic Learning Skills or COM10006 Academic Literacies: Learning and Communication Practice before starting this unit.

  • Broadband access — Students are required to have regular access to a computer and the internet. Mobile devices alone are not sufficient

This unit addresses the following topics.

1Introduction to the unit - Drugs, pharmaceuticals and anthropology
2Ethnographies of drug use
3Pharmacology, drug use and drug addiction
4Ethnographies of injecting drug use
5Alcohol and Aboriginal Australia
6Sacred tobacco in Native America
7Commercial tobacco: the European vector
8From tears to hope: a family perspective on drugs
9Political economy of opiates
10Political economy of cocaine
11The war on drugs
12Drug policy reform
14Hallucinogens in the West
15Hallucinogens in non-Western societies
16Pharmaceuticals and drug trials - Viagra
17Pharmaceuticals - Emergency contraception

This unit is delivered using the following methods and materials:

Instructional Methods

  • Discussion Forum/Discussion Board
  • Online Quizzes/Tests
  • Standard Media

Online materials

  • Resources and Links

This unit is a core requirement in the following courses:

This unit is an approved elective in the following courses:

This unit may be eligible for credit towards other courses:

  1. Many undergraduate courses on offer through OUA include 'open elective' where any OUA unit can be credited to the course. You need to check the Award Requirements on the course page for the number of allowed open electives and any level limitations.
  2. In other cases, the content of this unit might be relevant to a course on offer through OUA or elsewhere. In order to receive credit for this unit in the course you will need to supply the provider institution with a copy of the Unit Profile in the approved format, which you can download here. Note that the Unit Profile is set at the start of the year, and if textbooks change this may not match the Co-Op textbook list.
This unit does not have a prescribed textbook(s).

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