Drugs Across Cultures - 2017

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 2017: Sem1 , Sem2
  • Availability for 2018: Sem1 , Sem2
  • Assessment: Essay (40%) , Non-Invigilated Exam (40%) - Learn more

Unit provided by

2017 Fees
Domestic 793.00
HECS 793.00
International 1,043.00

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 be able to:

  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 the study of drug use
  3. understand the impact of broad social, political and economic forces on drug use and on social perceptions of drugs
  4. clarify the student’s own position on drugs, allowing informed and responsible decisions about social policies and strategies relating to drug use
  5. apply and adapt anthropological knowledge to real world issues.
  • Essay (40%)
  • Non-Invigilated Exam (40%)
  • Quiz 1 (5%)
  • Quiz 2 (15%)

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.

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 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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