BASS Social Anthropology and Philosophy / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Gender, Sexuality and Culture

Course unit fact file
Unit code SOCY20892
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course examines concepts relating to gender, sexuality and culture. We discuss the social and cultural significance of gender and sexuality in a historical, social, and cultural context. Topics for discussion include for example, feminism(s), the relationship between gender, sexuality, race and class, masculinity and femininity, sex sciences, and the social, historical and political role of LGBTQI identities. Questions include: to what extent are the characteristics of masculinity and femininity born with us, or to what extent do the makers of gender/sexuality vary over time and between societies? Is sexuality innate of socially constructed or a combination of the two?  


The course explores gender, sex and sexuality in society, and how they can be theorised. The course begins by looking at basic concepts of gender, and if it can be considered an 'essential' and inherent category within a person. We discuss what terms like 'essentialism', 'determinism' and 'social constructionism' means in terms of gender (lecture 1). These are discussions that appear throughout the module and that are relevant for understanding and theorising both gender and sexuality. In weeks 2-5 of the module we focus on gender in particular and in weeks 6-9 we focus more specifically on sexuality and LGBTQI identities, although the overlaps between the two will be highlighted throughout. In week 2, we explore relations of sex and gender in society and the development of feminism and feminist theory. We thereafter go on to explore how sex and gender relations also need to be understood as shaped through race and class divisions (lecture 3). Next we will look at gendered 'regimes' in society and how masculinities and femininities operate and are socially constructed in everyday life (week 4). In week five we go on to looking specifically at how gender relations operate in media and in culture more broadly. Constructions of gender are intimately interlinked with constructions of sexualities, and in week 6, we shall begin to explore the historical development of expert knowledge about sex, gender and sexuality or 'sex science' (known as 'sexology'), and also consider some psychoanalytic theories about the development of gendered and sexual identities. After this, the work of Michel Foucault on the 'historical' construction of sexuality, and how experts have played a part in constructing such knowledge (week 7). In week 8 and 9 we then focus especially on LGBTQI communities and identities. In week 8, we explore in particular gay and lesbian politics and same sex relationships. We explore the gay and lesbian movement with roots in 1960/70s 'liberation' politics, and key moments of social change over the last decades, as well as some of the ways in which gay and lesbian oppression and liberation has been theorized in sociology. In addition, we explore dynamics in contemporary same sex relationships, now characterized by, for example, marriage and divorce. In week 9 we focus in particular on trans identities and intersex, exploring contemporary politics and understandings of these different yet similar gendered experiences within LGBTQI communities. 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. 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




Teaching and learning methods

Weekly lecture (1 x 2 hour)   
Weekly tutorials (1 hour)   

Lectures will focus on exploring and critiquing gender and sexuality through different structural framings. Classic texts in the field will be drawn upon, alongside contemporary debates in books, journal articles and the media enabling  
students to consider the key theoretical arguments in relation to empirical case studies.  

In tutorials and through presentations, students will be encouraged to explore empirical examples, applying theoretical knowledge from the course to critique and debate them.  

The course will utilise Blackboard and other software to deliver the module's course content, core readings, lecture slides, any supplementary materials such as video materials, and communication.  

Knowledge and understanding

On completion of this unit successful students will be able to:  

• Apply their knowledge of sociological theory of gender and sexuality, including for example feminist and intersectional theory, to enable them to recognise the nature of sociological questions in this field  

• Appreciate, understand and interpret the complexity of the role of gender and sexuality in society, including conducting sociological analysis of diverse aspects of these categories, for example, how they interact with class and race, and shape media and culture  

• Reason critically about the development of gender and sexuality and analyse how they shape social relations. This for example through the critical study of identity politics, and issues related to transgender and intersex  

• Develop a coherent analysis of a substantive topic, e.g. the intersections of gender and class, or the construction and history of sexuality  

Intellectual skills

On completion of this unit successful students will be able to:  

• Evaluate competing analytical perspectives  

• Assess the strengths and weaknesses of theory and empirical evidence  

• Employ material available from academic, media and policy sources to make effective arguments  

• Develop a critical approach to academic, media and policy texts 

Practical skills

On completion of this unit successful students will be able to:  

• Use library and electronic sources and resources  

• Undertake and present independent research  

• Develop oral presentations and presentation aids  

• Improve their ability to communicate their ideas clearly and to an audience  

Transferable skills and personal qualities

On completion of this unit successful students will be able to:  

• Present ideas and ask questions in group discussion  

• Work with others to develop ideas and think critically  

• Work independently to deadlines as well as working as part of a group  

• Develop skills in communication  

• Summaries, evaluate and present data and ideas  

• Interpret and critically evaluate evidence using a variety of sources  

Assessment methods

Non-assessed mid-term coursework 

Non-assessed critical review presentation 

Assessed written end-of-semester coursework (2000 words, 100%) 

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.  

• Informal feedback through lecture or tutorial activities (online or face to face). Preparing adequately and participating fully in discussion will make this feedback as useful as possible. Take advantage of Q and A sessions in the lectures and office hours for asking questions when you need it.  

• You will be given formative feedback on your non-assessed mid-term course-work submission and your non-assessed critical review presentation 

• You will be given summative feedback (a mark) on your assessed course work.  

• Your peers will provide feedback through discussions held in lectures and tutorials; come prepared with your notes and ready to test out your ideas.  

• Feedback Half Day will be provided to allow in-depth one-to-one discussion of feedback on your coursework assessments. Details will be announced by email.  

Recommended reading

See the online catalogue

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 168

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Petra Nordqvist Unit coordinator

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