Reproductive Health Policy in Britain - SO595

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2021 to 2022
Spring 6 15 (7.5) checkmark-circle


Contraception, abortion, and teenage pregnancy are the subjects of public controversy in Britain. This module takes these aspects of ‘reproductive health’ as its main examples. We will consider why contraception, abortion and teenage pregnancy became the subject of policy-making, and look at how policy about them has changed over time. Attention will be drawn to areas of debate that are currently particularly controversial, to encourage students to consider the ways in which policy could develop.


Contact hours

11 lectures and 11 seminars, each of an hour

Method of assessment

50% coursework ( 2,500 words essay 1) and 50% 2-hour examination (summer term)

Indicative reading

There is no single text book for the module. Students are expected to read two or three journal articles/book chapters for each seminar, which are compiled as a reading pack available from the office in SSPSSR. The following, while they do not cover the breadth of the course, are also highly recommended reads:
Luker K (2006) When Sex Goes to School, Warring Views on Sex - and Sex Education - since the 1960s
McLaren A (1990) A History of Contraception, From Antiquity to the Present Day
Sheldon S (1997) Beyond Control: Medical Power & Abortion Law
Lee E (2003) Abortion, Motherhood and Mental Health, The Medicalisation of Reproduction in the US and Britain
Arai L (2009) Teenage Pregnancy, the Making & Unmaking of a Problem

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module students should:
Have acquired an understanding of competing explanations about how health policies emerge and are made
Be able to identify the main policy developments in Britain relating to contraception, abortion, teenage sex and pregnancy, and assisted conception.
Be aware of the origins of these policy developments, drawing on relevant social scientific literature and empirical evidence
Be able to identify areas of current concern and debate their validity for the future development of reproductive health policy.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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