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Study information

The Politics of Gender, Sex and Sexuality

Module titleThe Politics of Gender, Sex and Sexuality
Module codePOC3097
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Xianan Jin ()

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module will discuss a broad range of ideas related to gender, sex and sexuality. It will provide you with a thorough grounding in, and critical appreciation of, feminist theory and it will introduce you to queer theory. It will cover western thought in these areas but will not be limited to this, and will include critiques of this. Whilst the module is focussed on gender, sex and sexuality, it will also include recent academic discussions highlighting the need to consider intersectionality, that is how various forms of discrimination (gender, sexuality, race, disability, religion and so on) combine and create particular, and unrecognised, forms of disadvantage. The focus in this module is on gender rather than women (although we will discuss women rights predominantly), and we will also consider the role of masculinity and men’s movements.

The module will allow you to investigate issues such as cultural relativity and universalism – how should we think about these things in terms of cultural rights and human rights? For example, is it OK for some cultures to promote gendered practices or should there be a universal code which overrides this? Is it OK for Ireland to have a referendum on gay marriage, or should certain rights not be subject to a popular vote? How far should we as a society prescribe people’s sexual expression and activity?

The theoretical material will be applied to analyses of national and international political controversies, decisions and policies regarding gender, sex and sexuality. It will ground theoretical debates in practice by exploring for example:  pro-choice and pro-life debates; gay marriage; transgender policies; gender balance in governments; the treatment of LGBTQ politicians in the media; political ‘sex scandals’ and how this affects political campaigns; legislation on sex work and pornography. This module gives students scope to create their own essay question on a subject they are most interested in. 

NB This is a reading-heavy module, the seminars will provide some basic introduction but the module is based around discussion of readings in class. Therefore active participation (listening, thinking, discussing) is required.

There are no pre-requisite or co-requisite modules required in order to take this module. 

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aims of this module are to:

  1. Provide you with a thorough grounding in, and critical appreciation of, the diversity of feminist political thought
  2. Introduce you to queer theory and intersectionality.
  3. Investigate the significance and contribution of these theories to Political thought, research and practice.
  4. Apply these theories to a range of current political debates related to gender and sexuality.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate an in-depth awareness of the diversity of feminist thought, queer theory and intersectionality
  • 2. Understand, summarise and interpret complex and abstract arguments in Politics;
  • 3. Critically discuss theories in relation to current political debates related to sex, gender and sexuality.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. identify and discuss the major concepts deployed in a theory and their argumentative articulation;
  • 5. engage in both sympathetic interpretation and reasoned criticism of such theories;
  • 6. evaluate different interpretations in the light of appropriate evidence;

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. evaluate ideas, arguments and texts;
  • 8. write essays which demonstrate appropriate communications skills;
  • 9. take a critical attitude to your own work

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • History of feminism - from early modern feminist thought to present day
  • Feminist political thought 1
  • Feminist political thought 2
  • Queer theory
  • Intersectionality debates
  • Cultural relativity and universalism: key debates
  • Gendering and queering politics
  • Gender ‘mainstreaming’
  • Gender and political behaviour
  • Politics, Media and Sex
  • The personal is political: ‘private’ lives 

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity2010 x 2 hour seminars
Guided Independent Study22Reading and preparing for seminars (around 2 hours per seminar)
Guided Independent Study108Researching and writing assessments and assignments

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay plan outline500 words1-9Verbal Feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Article critique 201000 words1-9Written Feedback
Essay803000 words1-9Written Feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Article critiqueArticle critique 1000 words1-9August/September reassessment period
EssayEssay 3000 words1-9August/September reassessment period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Indicative Basic Reading List

  • Blakeley, G. and Bryson, V. (eds.) (2007) The Impact of Feminism on Political Concepts and Debates. Manchester: Manchester University Press. -
  • Bryson, V. (2003) Feminist Political Thought: An Introduction. London: Macmillan. + (1)
  • Squires, J. (2007).  The New Politics of Gender Equality.  Basingstoke: Palgrave. -
  • Lovenduski, J. (2005).  Feminising Politics.  Cambridge: Polity
  • Chappell, L. and Hill, L. (eds.) (2006).  The Politics of Women’s Interests.  London: Routledge. –
  • Phillips, A. (ed.) (1998).  Feminism and Politics. (Oxford: Oxford University Press)
  • Randall, V. and Waylen, G. (eds.) (1998). Gender, Politics and the State.  (New York: Routledge)
  • Stevens, A. (2007).  Women Power and Politics.  (Basingstoke: Palgrave)
  • Stokes, W. (2005).  Women in Contemporary Politics.  (Cambridge: Polity)
  • Michael Warner (ed.) (1993) Fear of a Queer Planet: Queer Politics and Social Theory (University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis and London), 1993, pp. vii-xxxi
    • Sullivan, N. (2003) A Critical Introduction to Queer Theory. Washington Square, NY: New York UP
    • Wilchins, R. (2004) Queer Theory, Gender Theory: An Instant Primer. Los Angeles: Alyson Books

Key words search

Politics, Gender, feminism

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date