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Gender in Society


This module introduces theoretical and substantive material that help to examine the emergence and development of sex and gender categories and practices and the social dynamics of power which underpin them. The material presented amalgamates different scholarly disciplines such as history, anthropology and sociology in order to explore the constructed nature of gender identity and gender dynamics and its political, practical and ideological ramifications. The topic of gender has been, since its inception as an area of study, intimately linked to a sociological account of the civil, and social and human rights, as well as sexuality and power dynamics in all areas of society. We explore these different social areas harnessing a vast amount of empirical evidence to substantiate and articulate the conceptual and theoretical material presented. 

Until very recently sex and gender identity were understood to be based in biology and it has been understood to be a ‘binary’, that is, a dual set of identities: male and female. In this module we explore and unpack the biological, social and political dimensions of this binary distinction and present evidence of its constructed and conventional nature. The module plays a significant emphasis on the interplay between the theoretical bases of the subject area and its application to substantive and empirical examples drawn from contemporary life. The module is divided into three main sections: 

1. The first part of the course focuses on a general introduction of the concept of gender from a sociological perspective using insights from history, anthropology and sociology of science to support the argument that gender is not a biological trait but rather is socially and collectively constructed. In this section we also present a very important area of sociological enquiry in relation to gender and sexuality and it particular how sexuality and sexual practices are profoundly embedded with gender power dynamics.

2. The second part of the course introduces and examines different schools of thought which underpin the emergence of gender studies and the impact these have had in both academic and socio/political environments. The different feminist schools of thought and action, in various national contexts, have been central to the transformation of social justice, equality and human rights in recent decades. These lectures and seminars introduce different schools of feminism and consider internal debates and controversies that have driven feminist thought forward and which have generated the study of social dynamics such as sociology of sexuality, sociology of health, sociology of sport to name a few. 

3. The third part of the module focuses on specific empirical/substantive topics and areas in which we will exercise and articulate the application ‘critical gender analysis’ to contemporary topical areas of social and individual life.  We aim to show how the embodiment and practice of gender is profoundly implicated in all dimensions of social life both individual and social, including those related to race, class, ethnicity, sexual and other social identities. We examine specific topics such as: domestic division of labour, transsexuality, masculinity and media representations and stereotyping of femininity and masculinity. 

The overall aim of the module is to highlight the significance of gender studies as an important field not only for academic scholarship but for wider social and political issues, social difference, domination, oppression and emancipation. It is also a module which offers a reflexive angle in which students can engage in critical, analytical and self-reflexive thinking aimed both at the wider societal level and their own lived experiences.

This is an SCQF Level 9 module and upon successful completion, participants will be awarded 20 credits.



This module will last for 11 weeks.  Please note the module will be delivered at Paisley and Lanarkshire campuses by recorded lectures and face-to-face seminars.


  • Week 1: No session: General University Induction Week
  • Week 2: Session 1: 12th September: Induction to the Module
  • Week 3: Session 2: 19th September: Introduction to the concepts of 'sex' and 'gender'
  • Week 4: Session 3: 26th September: Gender and Sexuality (Part 1) History and Anthropology
  • Week 5: Session 4: 3rd October: Gender and Sexuality (Part 1) Sociological and Feminist perspectives
  • Week 6: Session 5: 10th October: Trans theory and Feminist "Debates"
  • Week 7: Session 6: 17th October: Reading Week/Essay Planning
  • Week 8: Session 7: 24th October: Marxism meets feminism: class and gender oppression(s)
  • Week 9: Session 8: 31st October: Sociology of the Family and Domestic Division of Labour
  • Week 10: Session 9: 7th November: Masculinity Reconsidered - Hegemonic masculinity and power dynamics
  • Week 11: Session 10: 14th November: Media representations of masculinity and femininity - gender embodied signifiers in media
  • Week 12: Session 11: 21st November: Module revision and Open Book Test preparation


Course presenter

This module will be delivered by Dr Irene Rafanell (Lanarkshire) and Dr Chloe Maclean (Paisley).


NOTE: This is a university module and upon approval of your application, you will be invited to register and then supported to complete enrolment. To enrol on the university system, the first step involves security set-up using the Microsoft Authenticator app; you will need to ensure that you have a compatible smartphone.

Further information is available at the Student Information Portal.

To access this module via the CPD route, individuals should be ordinarily resident in Scotland.  If you do not meet this criteria, please enquire here.


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