BASS Politics and Criminology

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
Gender, Sex and Politics

Unit code POLI30232
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Politics
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


How is gender constructed? Why is something as individual as sexual desire so socially normalised and politically disciplined? What are role of “choice” and “social construction” respectively in determining gender roles, sexual preferences, sexual behaviour, norms of appearance, and participation in politics and in the labour market? Should we worry that women are still underrepresented in the public sphere, or should we take this as an expression of free choice? Should the state regulate, let alone prohibit, practices such pornography, prostitution, and surrogacy? Should we worry about norms of appearance and gender stereotypes in the media and pop culture, or accept them as a legitimate social preference?

The aim of this course is to try and understand why gender and sex are relevant categories in politics, whether and how they give rise to disadvantages, and whether and how, as a result, political institutions ought to respond to them. We shall address these questions mainly from a normative perspective, that is, by asking what, if anything, is problematic about the role that gender and sex play in influencing power relationship on the one hand, and about how political institutions respond to gender and sexual differences on the other.

At the end of the course, students will both be familiar with a range of the most prominent approaches in feminist theorizing, and be able to apply their insights in appraising policies and institutional proposals.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

Employ a rigorous theoretical approach to critically evaluate the main arguments regarding the significance of gender, sex, and sexuality.

Use analytic reasoning to draw their own conclusions about how contemporary liberal democracies should respond to the significance of gender, sex, and sexuality.

Discuss political movements, policies, and claims in terms of their underlying theoretical assumptions.

Teaching and learning methods


Assessment methods

Essay: 3,500 words worth 50%

Reading Review 1: 1,400 words worth 20%

Reading Review 2: 1,400 words worth 20%

Tutorial Participation: 10%

Feedback methods

Politics staff will provide feedback on written work within 15 working days of submission via Blackboard (if submitted through Turnitin).

Students should be aware that all marks are provisional until confirmed by the external examiner and the final examinations boards in June.

For modules that do not have examination components the marks and feedback for the final assessed component are not subject to the 15 working day rule and will be released with the examination results. This applies to Semester 2 modules only. Semester one modules with no final examination will have their feedback available within the 15 working days.

You will receive feedback on assessed essays in a standard format. This will rate your essay in terms of various aspects of the argument that you have presented your use of sources and the quality of the style and presentation of the essay. If you have any queries about the feedback that you have received you should make an appointment to see your tutor. Tutors and Course Convenors also have a dedicated office hour when you can meet with her/him to discuss course unit specific problems and questions.

On assessments submitted through Turnitin you will receive feedback via Blackboard. This will include suggestions about ways in which you could improve your work in future. You will also receive feedback on non-assessed coursework, whether this is individual or group work. This may be of a more informal kind and may include feedback from peers as well as academic staff

Recommended reading

Saul, Jennifer. 2003. Feminism: Issues and Arguments. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 10
Tutorials 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Juri Viehoff Unit coordinator
Liam Shields Unit coordinator
Miriam Ronzoni Unit coordinator

Additional notes

This course is available to all students. 

Length of course: 12 weeks


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