BA Ancient History and History

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Religion, Culture and Gender

Course unit fact file
Unit code RELT20121
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course aims to evaluate shifting attitudes towards the nature of gender identity, roles and relationships in Western societies and religious traditions as practiced in the West. Emphasis will be placed on the interaction between religion, culture and gender, focusing especially on how the academic study of religion, and Western religious traditions themselves, have responded to changing gender positions and performances. The course will introduce different theoretical perspectives on gender identities, e.g. social constructionism, feminist and womanist theologies, and explore their relationship with contemporary social and political movements concerned with gender inequalities. While exploring several religious traditions, the unit will specifically identify how Jewish and Christian religious traditions have responded to the experiences of women and men in society. There will also be an opportunity to assess how contemporary images and representations of women and men in media, literature and popular culture reflect theoretical debates in the academy.



To introduce and assess the impact of contemporary critical studies of gender on Western society and religion and vice versa.


Learning outcomes


Teaching and learning methods

All sessions work on an interactive basis, combining presenter input with small group discussion and full group discussion. In addition, students learn to assess their own work through feedback on the Student-led Discussion. The unit allows you to develop your abilities to assess popular debates critically, encouraging you to use material in the public domain. 

The unit is supported by a detailed Blackboard site, which includes web links to religious organizations and to a wide range of online material, news items and films on Box of Broadcasts and Kanopy. The unit also uses group discussion boards for collaboration on the Student-led Discussions.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Offer a critical account of the changing nature of gender roles, relations and representations in contemporary Western culture
  • Assess the impact of changing gender roles, relationships and critical theories upon selected religious traditions as practiced in the Western world
  • Understand the role played by gender in the construction of personal identities and social relations
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the mutually critical relationship between theory and practice


Intellectual skills

  • Appreciate and understand a diversity of intellectual approaches to the study of religion, culture and gender
  • Critically evaluate the ways in which different academic disciplines and theories can inform a greater understanding of religion, culture and gender
  • Construct and defend reasonable approaches to issues around religion, culture and gender
  • Analyse anecdotal evidence critically and systematically
  • Synthesize a range of theories and case studies, and create new meaning


Practical skills

  • Work to specific briefs, and produce material appropriate to specific audiences
  • Present critical accounts of learning in oral and written forms
  • Locate and retrieve materials from the library and elsewhere
  • Work effectively as a team-member of small groups
  • Draft and discuss proposals for research projects


Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Make clear arguments for and against different positions
  • Use reflexivity to undertake self-evaluation, and to become aware of their own perspectives on issues, and how these affect others
  • Justify their own position theoretically
  • Structure and communicate ideas effectively, both orally and in writing, to a range of audiences including non-academics
  • Organise their own time and priorities


Employability skills

Developing their skills in planning and creating appropriate resources for different audiences including non-academics. Presentation and facilitation skills, developed in a supportive environment. Solving issues which arise in a team where people have different expertise and ideas, and conflict may arise. developing their awareness of the need to understand and respect perspectives different from their own in order for there to be meaningful interaction with individuals and groups. Using reflexivity to undertake self-evaluation.

Assessment methods

Learning reflection synthesis (formative) 0%
Guide proposal linked to student-led discussion topic 0%
Guide 40%
Student-led discussion (inc. research and reflection) 20%
Learning reflection synthesis 40%




Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback via Turnitin/Grademark

Formative and summative

Additional one-to-one feedback during the consultation hour or by making an appointment



Recommended reading

  • Elaine L. Graham, Making the Difference: Gender, Personhood and Theology, Mowbray, 1995, esp. Chapters 1-5
  • Tina Beattie, New Catholic Feminism. Theology & Theory, Routledge, 2006
  • Judith Plaskow, Standing again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective, Harper Collins, 1991, esp. Introduction and Chapters 1 & 2
  • Tova Hartman, Feminism Encounters Traditional Judaism, Brandeis University Press, 2007
  • Anne Cranny-Francis et al., Gender Studies. Terms and Debates, Palgrave Macmillan, 2003
  • Linda Woodhead and Rebecca Catto (eds.) Religion and Change in Modern Britain, Routledge, 2012, ‘Christianity’ and ‘Judaism’


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Katja Stuerzenhofecker Unit coordinator

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