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Semester 1

Understanding Gender in the Contemporary World (SSPS08012)


Social and Political Studies





Normal Year Taken


Delivery Session Year



Course Summary

How can we understand gender in the contemporary world? How is gender constructed in different contexts and what are the material consequences? How can gender analyses empower us to act as agents of personal and social change? This inter-disciplinary course provides an overview of the major issues at stake in the study of gender relations from a broadly social science perspective. It introduces students to gender studies as a theoretical field of investigation, examining key concepts and debates in the field. Students will explore issues of power, inequality, intersectionality, change and resistance through contemporary examples of 'doing gender' around the world. In doing so, this course equips students - as 21st Century graduates - with awareness and understanding of global inequalities based on gender, race, class, and sexuality, as well as basic tools to undertake gender analysis.

Course Description

This course provides a rigorous but accessible introduction to the study of gender relations as a theoretical, social, cultural, political and historical field of investigation. Using an inter-disciplinary social science approach, it examines how gender shapes how we conceptualize and organise the world: how are masculinity and femininity constructed in different contexts and with what material effects? How does gender intersect with race, ethnicity, age, sexuality, disability and other structures of power? How can gender analyses empower us to act as agents of personal and social change? Each week, students will be introduced to key concepts and issues including sex, gender, sexuality, intersectionality, power, masculinities/femininities, and the body. They will then explore these concepts through key contemporary examples of gender research including, for example: family, work and care; gender and political representation; media and film; sexual harassment, consent and violence; globalisation and migration; and war, peace and security. While the focus of the course is on gender relations, it takes an intersectional approach. The aim of this course is to equip students with the concepts and tools needed to carry out a gender analysis of texts, images, institutions and contexts, as well as provide an introduction to a wide range of global gender issues. At the end of this course, students should be able to use these basic tools of gender analysis to begin to identify how power relations based on gender affect their own lives and how these power dynamics affect the lives of others on local, national, and global scales.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 90%, Practical Exam 10%

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