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Assessment & Contact


Some students choose to do their dissertation based on this module. Over the years, they have chosen to do a variety of subjects, including, but not limited to, those discussed during the course. At the same time, they have also used a variety of approaches, drawing from anthropology, political science, international relations, sociology and media studies.

Though this is an advanced option, dissertations are expected to have some level of primary source input.

Some useful primary sources include:

Mexico-United States Counternarcotics Policy, 1969-2013

New York Times

Los Angeles Times

The Sixties: Primary Documents and Personal Narratives, 1960 to 1974

Hemeroteca Nacional Digital de México

The Washington Post

Anyone's Child, Mexico

Trans-border Freedom of Expression Project

Proceso, Leading Mexican current affairs magazine

MIDAS, Mexican Intelligence Digital Archives

California Digital Newspaper Collection

Short essay questions

Why do we take drugs?

To what extent has race affected US policies on drugs?

Why has the US government fought drug addiction with mass incarceration?

How has the war on drugs affected social relations in the US?

Why has Alice Goffman's recent work caused so much debate?

Explain the rise of youth gangs in Central America.

How have youth gangs affected social relations in Central America?

How useful is the idea of the "social bandit" when describing the drug trade?

How has a constructionist approach altered historians' appreciation of the drug trade and its prohibition?

How useful is dependency theory when studying the Latin American drug trade?

How has medical science affected the cocaine trade?

How did the early cocaine trade affect local political and socio-economic relations in Peru?

How did US policy affect the Peruvian cocaine trade?

How have left wing radical groups affected the drug trade and the war on drugs in Peru and/or Colombia?

How did US policy affect the Colombian cocaine trade?

Explain the rise of the Colombian drug trade?

How did the drug trade affect Colombia's social and political relations?

Cartels or small, autonomous criminal groups? Which best describes the Colombian drug trafficking mafia?

How has Colombian narcoculture sought to describe the drug trade?

How has organized crime affected the practice of democracy in Brazil?

How has organized crime affected social relations in Brazil?

The CIA and the cocaine trade. Conspiracy theory or pragmatic alliance?

How did ideas on race and class affect pre-twentieth century Mexican attitude to narcotics?

How did the early (1920-1970) drug trade affect political and socio-economic relations in Mexico?

"Psychedelic orientalism": Is this a fair description of the counter-culture's attitude to Mexico?

How did the US-Mexican anti-drugs policies of the 1970s affect both the drug trade and Mexican society?

Why cartels? Why Mexico? Explain the rise of the Mexican drug cartels.

Celebrations of violent criminals or valid social commentary. Which best describes Mexican narcocorridos?

How have recent Mexican authors sought to explain and bring narrative order to the Mexican drug war?

How have recent US policies affected both the Mexican drug trade and Mexican society?

How has organized crime affected the process of Mexican demcratization?

Why has the war on drugs in Mexico become so violent?

Methods of Assessment

The assessment for this module is determined by whether or not the student will be basing a Dissertation on the module:

  • For students who are not basing a Dissertation on this module: a two-hour exam and a 4,500 word essay
  • For students who are basing a Dissertation on this module: Three-hour exam

For details of examination and assessment, please see:

Students also have the choice of doing 3 of the following

1 Short essay questions

2 A mock exam

3 A 15 minute class presentation on the given reading that week

The three essays are due on Tuesday 4pm Week 8 of Fall Term, Tuesday 4pm of Week 5 of Spring Term and Tuesday 4pm of Week 10 of Spring Term. The mock exam, depending on timing of exams, is due Friday, 4pm of Week 3 of Summer term.

These essays will be marked, given feedback, and returned within 20 working days as long as they are handed in on time.

If students want to do a presentation, they should tell the seminar tutor which week they wish to do by Week 3 of Fall Term.


Contact Hours

Student contact hours for this final-year Advanced Option module will be comprised as follows:

Lectures: None
Seminars: Eighteen two-hour seminars
Tutorials: Four hours of feedback and long essay preparation
Revision: Two two-hour revision sessions
Total: Forty-four hours