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BASS Philosophy and Criminology

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Gender, Sexuality and Culture

Unit code SOCY20892
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Sociology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course examines concepts relating to gender and sexuality, and we discuss the obsession with gendering in a historical, social, and cultural context. Topics for discussion also include: the sex/gender system; gender and sexuality in relation to identity, behaviour, the body and desire. Questions include: to what extent are the characteristics of masculinity and femininity born with us, or to what extent do the makers of gender vary over time and between societies? Is sexuality innate of socially constructed or a combination of the two?


The course explores how gender and sexuality are theorised and how gender and sexuality categories affect everyday experiences. The course begins by looking at basic concepts – ‘essentialism’ and ‘determinism’ – (lecture 1) that appear throughout the module, We then move onto critical examination of the historical development of expert knowledge about sex, gender and sexuality or ‘sex science’ (known as ‘sexology’) and also consider some psychoanalytic theories about gender and sexuality (lectures 2 and 3). After this, the work of Michel Foucault on the ‘historical’ construction of sexuality, and the part of expert knowledge in this, will be examined (week 4) We will then examine theories of gender/sexuality that have roots in 1960/70s ‘liberation’ politics – the women’s movement and lesbian/gay movement (week 5). The focus of enquiry subsequently shifts to the implications of Foucaultian, feminist and lesbian ideas for ‘difference theory’ - that explores in particular Queer and intersections theory (week 6). We then return (week 7) to examine structural dynamic ideas about how masculinities and femininities are implicated in contemporary ‘regimes’ of gendered sexuality, and reconstructionist ideas about intimacy and homonormativity to consider contemporary gendered and sexual transformations (Week 8). In week 9 we look at the ways in which the possibilities now open for same-sex marriage are indicative of the extent to which sexual citizenship has been achieved (week 9). The final session (lecture 10) and final tutorial are crucial because they recap key theories and concepts in a way that is designed to maximise your success in the end of course examination.

Learning outcomes

On completing the module, successful students will

1.    have developed a critical understanding of a variety of approaches to understanding the construction of gender and sexuality;

2.    be able to explain accurately and analyse a set of concepts and theories relating to the construction of and transformation of gender and sexuality;

be capable of demonstrating their in-depth knowledge of substantive areas covered on the course as well as their ability to apply concepts and theories, and to critically evaluate and analyse ideas about construction and transformation of gender and sexuality.

Teaching and learning methods

Weekly 2-hour lecture/workshop and weekly 1-hour tutorial

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 50%
Written assignment (inc essay) 35%
Oral assessment/presentation 15%

Feedback methods

All sociology courses include both formative feedback – which lets you know how you’re getting on and what you could do to improve – and summative feedback – which gives you a mark for your assessed work.

Recommended reading

Beasley C (2003) Gender and Sexuality: Critical Theories. Critical Thinkers, London: Sage.  Available online via Library Catalogue

Cranny-Francis A et al (eds) (2003) Gender Studies: Terms and Debates, London: Palgrave

Jackson, S. (2010) Theorizing Sexuality. Maidenhead: McCraw-Hill. Available online via Library Catalogue.

Weeks, J. (2009) Sexuality. London: Routledge.  Available online via Library Catalogue.

For the broader theoretical context in which gender and sexuality should be understood, see:

Heaphy, B. (2007) Late Modernity and Social Change: Reconstructing Social and Personal Life. London: Routledge. (especially chapters on Identity and Relationships] Available online via Library Catalogue.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 168

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Petra Nordqvist Unit coordinator

Additional notes


•             One assessed presentation (5 minute talk plus visual aids to be handed in) worth 15% of the mark

•             Coursework essay 1500 words worth 35% of the mark

•             One two-hour unseen examination (or online equivalent) to be taken at the end of the course worth 50% of the total mark

•             Evidence of tutorial preparation (up to 500 words) for every tutorial week 2 –week 9 inclusive (failure to do so will result in a penalty deduction of 1% from your overall course mark per week, up to a maximum of 5%). Formative feedback will be provided on one set of tutorial preparation notes, as selected by the student.

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