Gender, Sexuality and Law - LW596

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2017-18 2018-19
Canterbury Spring
View Timetable
6 15 (7.5) PROF KD Bedford


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 40% participation based assessment, 60% term essay of 3600 words.

Preliminary 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

Students who complete this module successfully will have the ability to:
1. Understand the complex relationship between law and dominant structures of gender and sexuality
2. Appreciate the significance of feminist and queer theory for understanding the contemporary formation of legal and political issues such as transgender activism, same sex marriage, diverse family formations, immigration and refugee status, and welfare reform
3. Appreciate the significance of, critiques of, and alternatives to, rights-based claims by activists and other social actors in gender and sexuality mobilising
4. Appreciate and be able critically to 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. 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. Appreciate 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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