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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

Assessed Work (Summative Assessments)

Students will be evaluated as follows:

  • 1 1500 word essay (10%) (First term)
  • 2-hour, two question exam paper (40%) (Third Term)
  • 1 3000 word essay (40%) (Second Term)
  • Class participation (10%) (Taken over the two terms)

In general terms I would expect that the 1500 word essay would use Core Reading plus a couple of others. The 3000 word essay should use 3 or 4 extra readings... or more.

The exam will take place during summer term on a date that will be scheduled closer to the time

General information about assessed work including deadline dates and submission information can be found on the department webpages.

Regulation on visiting students, extensions, late penalties etc, can be found here

Short essay questions: Suggestions only

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 democratization?

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


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