Gender, Sexuality and Law - LW596

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19
Canterbury Spring
View Timetable
6 15 (7.5) DR F Renz


LW313/LW323 A Critical Introduction to Law and LW588/LW614 Public Law 1 are prerequisites. Previous or concurrent study of LW588 Public Law 1 and LW592 Public Law 2; LW505 Family Law; or LW578 Law and Political Theory is desirable.


Not available to non Law students.



The media is full of gender controversies: there’s same-sex marriage (or not) in California, violence against women pretty well everywhere, and a whopping 17% gender pay gap in the UK. What do you think about these issues? How do you think the law should respond?
This module focuses on how law interacts with gender and sexuality. It examines, and encourages you to discuss, the interconnections between law, policy, gender, and sexuality. We will start by focusing on key concepts in feminist and queer legal theory, such as heteronormativity (the dominance of heterosexual family and social structures). We will then relate these theories to current dilemmas: same-sex marriage; transgender rights; gay refugees; diverse family formations. Finally, we tackle the really big questions. Should we use the law to change the law? Are rights really any use? What is neo-liberalism and how does this relate to gender?


This module appears in:

Contact hours

1 two hour workshop per week, 20 hours in all.

Method of assessment

100% coursework consisting of:

Essay of 3,300 words (60%)
Presentation (20%)
Chairing another student's presentation (20%)

Indicative reading

Why not have a look at your newspaper on a regular basis and save any articles in this area that interest you.
INCITE! Women of Colour Against Violence (2007) The Revolution will not be Funded: Beyong the Non-Profit Industrial Complex, South End Press.
M Rahman and S Jackson - Gender and Sexuality: Sociological Approaches (Polity Press 2010)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate understanding of the complex relationship between law and dominant structures of gender and sexuality
2. Demonstrate an appreciation of the significance of feminist and queer theory for understanding the contemporary formation of legal and political issues
3. Demonstrate an appreciation of the significance of, critiques of, and alternatives to, rights-based claims by activists and other social actors in gender and sexuality mobilising
4. Critically analyse the relationship between right-based claims, claims for sexual citizenship, neoliberal approaches to rights and social inclusion, and the 'not for profit/industrial complex' within legal discussions of gender and sexuality
5. Critically identify the wide range of influences on legal discourse, policy, and law-making in relation to gender and sexuality, including concepts from political theory, the social sciences, contemporary culture and the humanities, and dominant ideas from the sciences
6. Demonstrate an appreciation of the intersection of concepts of gender and sexuality with concepts of race, religion, disability and class both historically and contemporaneously, and the effects of those intersections on legal theory, practice, and activism

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