MA Human Rights - Law/Political Science Pathway (Standard Route)

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Gender Inequality: Theory and Evidence

Unit code MGDI60202
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Global Development Institute
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This interdisciplinary course aims to cover key elements of gender inequality, drawing on both theory and empirical evidence. It seeks to move beyond standard gender and development approaches and developing country settings, to cover inequalities in wider geographic contexts, including developed countries.


The aim of this interdisciplinary course is to cover key elements of gender inequality, drawing on both theory and empirical evidence, and on both quantitative and qualitative knowledge systems. It will help students acquire tools to critically analyse the literature and arguments they encounter in diverge geographic contexts, including both development and developed countries. It will also provide an overview of intersecting economic, social and political inequalities that impinge on gender outcomes (such as how social norms and social perceptions constitute inequalities in themselves, as well as lead to unequal economic and political outcomes).  

Teaching and learning methods

This module will draw on a range of teaching and learning strategies: lectures, classroom discussions and independent learning by students. There will be 10 two hour lecture sessions (or 9 lectures and a panel). Students will be encouraged to participate, raise questions, and share their interpretations. Students will be expected to complete the essential readings for a session prior to each session. There will also be two 2 hour tutorials for more in-depth discussions and presentations on core readings. Tutors will be encouraged to use a range of methods to enliven the learning process, such as using a debate format to present two counter viewpoints, analysis of short film clips, etc. 

Knowledge and understanding

  • Acquire an overview of the history of approaches to gender inequality
  • Obtain a grounded understanding of conceptual perspectives and empirical trends relating to  the economic, social and political aspects of gender inequality
  • Acquire theoretical tools for analysing cross-institutional gender inequalities
  • Obtain a good understanding of the need to root arguments backed by evidence, as well as recognise gaps therein
  • Be able to critically evaluate data, case studies, and  official reports on gender inequalities globally
  • Become familiar with the sources of data for different measure of gender inequality, but also understand the potential and pitfalls of indicators used to measure gender inequalities

Intellectual skills

  • Learn to apply a critical approach to both mainstream social science approaches and gendered approaches to gender inequality
  • Learn to critically assess development literature from a gender perspective
  • Understand the nature and causes of gender inequalities in employment, wealth, governance institutions, and political participation across diverse regions (including Asia, Africa and Latin America)
  • Learn to use interdisciplinary tools to examine gender inequalities and assess how different types of inequalities intersect
  • Understand and be able to analyse key contemporary issues such as food security and environmental conservation from a gender perspective

Practical skills

  • Develop the ability to read arguments across social science disciplines
  • Develop analytical, writing, communication and presentation skills

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Class interactions between female and male students on questions of gender inequality could help them develop greater appreciation and sensitivity in their personal lives, on how inequalities get embedded in behaviour patterns, and how they could be overcome.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 100%

Feedback methods

Feedback will be provided via in-class interactions, formative essay plan feedback and summative assignmment feedback via Turnitin (Blackboard).

Recommended reading

*  Especially recommended (some are edited volumes from which particular articles will be assigned)

 * Afshar, H. and S. Barrientos (eds). (1999). Women, Globalisation and Fragmentation in the Developing World (Basingstoke: Macmillan)

* Agarwal, B. (2016). Gender Challenges: A Three volume compendium (Oxford University Press).  Vol 1: Agriculture, Technology and Food Security. Vol. 2: Property, Family and the State. Vol. 3: Environmental Change and Collective Action

Agarwal, B., J. Humphries and I. Robyens (eds.) (2006): Capabilities, Freedom and Equality (Oxford University Press)

Agarwal, B. (1997): ‘Bargaining and Gender Relations: Within and Beyond The Household’, Feminist Economics, pp. 1-51.

Agarwal, B. (1994). A Field of One’s Own: Gender and Land Rights in South Asia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

* Chant, S (ed). (2010) The International Handbook of Gender and Poverty: Concepts, Research, Policy (Edward Elgar, Part IV)

Deere, C.D. and C. Doss (eds.) (2006). A Special Issue on Women and Wealth, Feminist Economics, 12 (1&2).

Elson, D. (ed.) (1995). Male Bias in the Development Process (New York: St. Martin’s Press)

* Folbre, N. and J. A. Nelson (2000).  ‘For Love or Money--or Both?’, The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 14(4): 123-140.

Goetz A.M. (ed.) (1997). Getting Institutions Right for Women in Development (London: Zed Books)

Journal of Human Development (2006). Special issue on Revisiting the Gender-related Development Index (GDI) and Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM),  7 (2). 

Kabeer, N. 1994 Reversed Realities: Gender Hierarchies in Development Thought (London: Verso).

Lawson, D. and S. Bridges (2009) “A Gender Based Investigation into the Determinants of Labour Market Outcomes: Evidence from Uganda”, Journal of African Economies. Vol. 18(3): 461-495.

Moser, C. (1993). Gender, Planning and Development: Theory, Practice and Training (London, Routledge)

Okin, S. M. (1989). Justice, Gender, and the Family (New York: Basic Books). 

* Pearson, R. (2007) ‘Re-assessing Paid Work and Women's Empowerment: Lessons from the Global Economy’ in A. Cornwall, E.Harrison and A. Whitehead (eds). Feminisms in Development: Contradictions, Contestations and Challenges (London, New York, Zed Books).

Phillips, A. (1995). The Politics of Presence (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Razavi, S. (2007). ‘The Political and Social Economy of Care in a Development Context. Conceptual Issues, Research Questions and Policy Options’, Gender and Development programme paper no. 3, UNRISD, Geneva

Sen, A. (1999). ‘Gender and Cooperative Conflict’, in I. Tinker (ed.). Persistent inequalities (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Sen A. (1995). ‘Gender Inequality and Theories of Justice’. In: M. Nussbaum and J. Glover (eds.). Women, Culture and Development. (Oxford: Clarendon Press).

* UN Women (2014). The World Survey on the Role of Women in Development 2014: Gender Equality and Sustainable Development (New York: UN Women).

Walby, S. (2009) Globalization and Inequalities (London, Sage).

Waring, M. (1990). If Women Counted (San Francisco: Harper Collins Publishers).

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 4
Independent study hours
Independent study 126

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Bina Agarwal Unit coordinator

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