Gender and Women's Studies

The following modules are available to incoming Study Abroad students interested in Gender and Women's Studies.

Alternatively you may return to the complete list of Study Abroad Subject Areas.

GWS.101: Introduction to Gender and Womens' Studies

  • Terms Taught: Full Year course.
  • Also Available:
    • Michaelmas Term only.
    • Lent / Summer Terms only.
    • NOTE:  If you are studying with us for a Full Academic Year and you select a course that has full year and part year variants, you will not be allowed to take only part of the course.
  • US Credits:
    • Full Year course - 10 Semester Credits
    • Michaelmas Term only - 4 Semester Credits
    • Lent / Summer Terms only- 6 Semester Credits
  • ECTS Credits:
    • Full Year course - 20 ECTS Credits.
    • Michaelmas Term only - 8 ECTS Credits
    • Lent / Summer Terms only - 12 ECTS Credits

Course Description

Have you ever wondered why women in Britain are paid, on average, 13% less than men?  Why women's bodies are used in advertising?  Do you think that class is a women's issue?  Is being white simply about skin colour?  Does the Law treat men and women in the same way?  Are these questions relevant to the world we inhabit?  This course explores such questions.

Educational Aims

This course aims to develop an understanding of a range of perspectives central to Gender  Women's Studies, introducing students to some of the disciplines, main theoretical concepts, and most recent research involved in the field. 

The course is divided into five main sections:

  • gender and social institutions;
  • women's movements;
  • cultural representations of gender;
  • identity and difference;
  • making bodies.

Students are encouraged to discuss these themes, drawing on their own experiences, as well as on reading.

Outline Syllabus

This course introduces some of the central concepts and issues in Women's Studies. We examine the history of Women's Studies as a discipline, and its relation to different kinds of feminist theories, focusing on the two themes of 'women, power and resistance', and 'women and difference'.

Particular areas covered include:

  • the social organisation of gender relations,
  • the cultural representation of gender,
  • constructions of gender identities,
  • and women and political organisations. 

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 60%
  • Exam: 40%

MCS.226: Gender and Media

  • Terms Taught: Full Year course.
  • Also Available:
    • Michaelmas Term only.
    • Lent / Summer Terms only
    • NOTE:  If you are studying with us for a Full Academic Year and you select a course that has full year and part year variants, you will not be allowed to take only part of the course.
  • US Credits:
    • Full Year course - 8 Semester Credits
    • Michaelmas Term only - 4 Semester Credits
    • Lent / Summer Terms only - 4 Semester Credits
  • ECTS Credits:
    • Full Year course - 16 ECTS Credits
    • Michaelmas Term only - 8 ECTS Credits
    • Lent / Summer Terms only - 8 ECTS Credits
  • Pre-requisites: Two semesters of sociology.

Course Description

The media is hugely influential in shaping, reflecting and challenging gender power relations.  Feminist theories have been attentive to the ways in which our lives are mediated, suggesting that we construct and perform our identities in relation to media representations of gender, sexuality and the body.  This module focuses on these issues, exploring some of the key cultural, social and political questions surrounding gender and sexuality. The course draws on key concepts in feminist theory, queer theory, body image, Marxist feminism, masculinity studies and feminist activism to explore how gender works across a wide range of media platforms. Specific media studied include film, advertising, fashion media and celebrity culture, politics, television genres such as reality television and soap opera, and gaming and digital media.

Educational Aims

This course gives a comprehensive introduction to debates about representations of gender in the media. Students will learn to use a range of feminist theoretical and methodological tools to think critically about changing representations of femininity, masculinity and trans identities in contemporary media, to explore changing representations of gender, and to explore the ways in which gendered representations intersect with discourses of class, race, age, ethnicity and disability. We will also ask whether feminist critique has changed the way men and women are represented in contemporary culture. 

Specific aims include enabling students to:

  • be able to identify and explore a range of theoretical approaches to the study of gender, media and representation.
  •  employ key theoretical and critical approaches in the analysis of various media texts, particularly visual and  popular cultural texts, drawing on key debates in feminist theory, queer theory and media studies.
  •  develop analytical and critical skills in relation to theoretical texts and media texts and practices 
  •  develop understanding of the audio, visual and verbal conventions through which sounds, images and words construct representations of gender and sexuality.
  •  develop understanding of the ways in which people engage with cultural texts and practices and negotiate gendered and sexual identities in relation to the media. 
  •  develop understanding of the narrative processes, generic forms and modes of representation at work in media and cultural texts
  •  develop an understanding of the material conditions of media and cultural consumption, and of the cultural contexts in which people appropriate, use and make sense of media and cultural products
  •  develop an awareness of how media products might be understood within broader concepts of culture.
  •  have a critical appreciation of the complexity of the terms ‘gender’ and ‘media’

Outline Syllabus

  • Block 1: Feminism, gender and the media
  • Block 2: Representing Femininities
  • Block 3: Masculinity, media and representation
  • Block 4: Figuring queer and trans subjects
  • Block 5: New media, gender activism and change

Assessment Proportions

  • Groupwork: 20%
  • Critical Media analysis 30%
  • EITHER a. 3000 word essay (50%) OR b. creative project (blog, vlog, zine, photo essay or art project) (25%) with 1500 word written commentary (25%),

SOCL208: Gender, Sexuality and Society

  • Terms Taught: Full Year course.
  • Also Available:
    • Michaelmas Term only
    • Lent / Summer Terms only.
    • NOTE:  If you are studying with us for a Full Academic Year and you select a course that has full year and part year variants, you will not be allowed to take only part of the course.
  • US Credits:
    • Full Year course - 8 Semester Credits.
    • Michaelmas Term only - 4 Semester Credits.
    • Lent / Summer Terms only - 4 Semester Credits
  • ECTS Credits:
    • Full Year course: 16 ECTS Credits
    • Michaelmas Term only: 8 ECTS Credits
    • Lent / Summer Terms only: 8 ECTS Credits
  • Pre-requisites: Two semesters of sociology.

Course Description

There have been huge changes in women's position in society over the last century, with many advances made in the struggle against sexual inequality.  This course considers a range of feminist approaches to explaining transformations in sexual relations and gender formations over the last century.

Educational Aims

  • Gain a solid, basic grasp of some key debates and developments in feminist theories
  • Understand how a focus on women's lives and standpoints has transformed traditional sociological practice and theory.
  • Gain an overview of the major changes in women's lives over the twentieth century, (primarily in Britain), and to appreciate their social and political relationship to women in other parts of the world.
  • Learn key concepts, approaches, and changes in the study of women in society over the past twenty years, including an understanding of the impact that feminist theory has had on the social sciences.
  • Become aware of the racism, ethnocentrism, Eurocentrism or other structures of exclusion inherent in social analysis and be able to apply this awareness self-reflectively.
  • Improve skills in analysing a range of sources relevant to the study of women in society, includingvisual images, historical data, qualitative and quantitative empirical data, contemporary print media, and   web-based information.

Outline Syllabus

Topics covered will include the following areas:

  • the concept of patriarchy,
  • the history of the women's liberation movement,
  • women's paid and unpaid work,
  • sexuality and violence,
  • 'Third World' women and global networks,
  • Black Feminist theory,
  • embodiment and public space,
  • sexual citizenship,
  • home/gender/race/nation.

Assessment Proportions

  • Essays (2 x 3000 word): 50%
  • Exam: 25%
  • Group presentation: 25%

SOCL209: Consumer Culture and Advertising

  • Terms Taught: Full Year course.
  • Also Available:
    • Michaelmas Term only.
    • Lent / Summer Terms only.
    • NOTE:  If you are studying with us for a Full Academic Year and you select a course that has full year and part year variants, you will not be allowed to take only part of the course.
  • US Credits:
    • Full Year course - 8 Semester Credits.
    • Michaelmas Term only - 4 Semester Credits.
    • Lent / Summer Terms only - 4 Semester Credits
  • ECTS Credits:
    • Full Year course - 16 ECTS Credits.
    • Michaelmas Term only - 8 Semester Credits.
    • Lent / Summer Terms only - 8 Semester Credits
  • Pre-requisites: Two semesters of sociology.

Course Description

Consumption and advertising are critical in the understanding of contemporary society – they mediate how we think about ourselves and others and how we form social structures. This course introduces a range of theoretical perspectives on consumer culture and advertising and includes various case studies. Topics include: commodities and exchange; shopping and identity; class and lifestyle; advertising agencies’ gender and advertising images; anti-consumerism and protest.

Educational Aims

Consumer culture and advertising are key to understanding contemporary culture - they mediate how we think about ourselves and others, and form important economic institutions. This unit introduces a range of theoretical perspectives on consumer culture in the Michaelmas term, and advertising in the Lent term, and applies them to case studies of consumption, the advertising industry, advertising texts and broader social  contexts. The course examines the role of consumerism and advertising in cultural change and in shaping identities.

Aims:

  • to introduce a range of sociological perspectives on consumer culture and advertising
  • to introduce methods of analysing advertising
  • to analyse the role of advertising and discourses of consumerism in shaping identities

Outline Syllabus

Consumption and advertising are key to understanding contemporary society ? they mediate how we think about ourselves and others, form social structures, and they organise resources and ideas. This course introduces a range of theoretical perspectives on consumer culture and advertising and includes various case studies.  Topics include: commodities and exchange; shopping and identity; class and lifestyle; advertising agencies' gender and advertising images; anti-consumerism and protest.

Assessment Proportions

  • 2 x 3000 word essays: 50%
  • Analytic exercise: 20%
  • Exam: 30%

SOCL314: Feminism and Social Change

  • Terms Taught: Full Year course.
  • Also Available:
    • Michaelmas Term only
    • Lent / Summer Terms only.
    • NOTE:  If you are studying with us for a Full Academic Year and you select a course that has full year and part year variants, you will not be allowed to take only part of the course.
  • US Credits:
    • Full Year course - 8 Semester Credits.
    • Michaelmas Term only - 4 Semester Credits.
    • Lent / Summer Terms only - 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits:
    • Full Year course - 16 ECTS Credits.
    • Michaelmas Term only - 8 ECTS Credits
    • Lent / Summer Terms only - 8 ECTS Credits
  • Pre-requisites: Five semesters of sociology; two may be from cognate disciplines such as anthropology or social psychology.

Course Description

This challenging course investigates gender inequalities within society through a focus on historical and contemporary debates in feminist theory and activism. The course has an `intersectional` focus that means we will consider gender inequalities as bound up with other forms of discrimination and marginalisation, particularly racial and ethnic inequalities, disability and social class.

The first term will challenge you to think about `what feminism means today` through a consideration of key aspects of feminist thought and activism from the late 1960s onwards. We will consider ideas such as ‘the personal is political’, consciousness raising and the contemporary relevance of sexism. We will also consider feminist research practices and methods and the idea of work as liberation to prepare you to carry out an intergenerational interview on the theme of gender, work and social change. In the latter part of term 1 we will explore the Women’s Health Movement and explore contemporary feminist activism through current examples of everyday activism.  In the second term we take the feminist manifesto as a central document which expresses lived experiences of gender inequalities and collective desire for social change and explore the contemporary resonance of ideas introduced in the first term through engaging with topics such as breast cancer activism, anti-feminist backlash, and black and cyborg feminisms.

Throughout the course we will interrogate social constructions of sex differences and consider how lived experiences of inequality are perpetuated. By the end of the course you will be familiar with some of the key debates within feminism today and be able to make connections between feminist theory and forms of feminist practice. This course will challenge you to interrogate your own assumptions about sexual difference and inequality and we expect you to take a full part in lively class discussion and debate. The course involves analysis of varied media including academic texts, advertising, art, film and news media.

Educational Aims

  • to examine key concepts and theoretical approaches in contemporary feminist theory
  • to develop core skills of critical scholarly analysis, evaluation, and interpretation
  • to improve written and spoken expression, argumentation, criticism, and use of evidence
  • to introduce and develop methodologies for interpreting visual and textual sources
  • to develop confidence in scholarly reading and writing

Outline Syllabus

  • Introduction: The Nature-Culture debate
  • Gender
  • What is Sex and Gender?
  • Performativity
  • Transgender
  • Sustaining Feminisms - Women, Work and  Class
  • Essay Writing/Reading Week
  • Sex Work/Prostitution, Migration and Trafficking
  • Media and Body Image: Workshop
  • Overview of the First Term

Assessment Proportions

  • Analytical Exercises or equivalent (2 x 1500 word): 40%
  • Essay (1 x 3000 word): 30%
  • Exam: 30%

or

  • Dissertation (6000 word) instead of essay and exam: 60%