Department of Political Science


Gendering the Study of Politics: Theory and Practice

Course Code


Course Tutor

Dr Maki Kimura (Department of Political Science)


One 1,000 word exercise (30%) and one 2,000 word essay (70%)

Credit Value


About this course

The course provides an overview of key topics, both theoretical and policy-related, in politics and gender. In weeks one and two, the history of feminism and main feminist and gender theories (including those on intersectionality, masculinity, sexuality, and the body) are explored.

The rest of the first part of the course looks at the impact of gender on ‘political’ activities, the concepts and practices of citizenship, and how to develop gender sensitive public policies. It considers what constitutes ‘political’ activities, whether the gender of our political representatives matters, in what ways that political institutions are gendered, and the relationship between gender and neoliberalism.

The second part of the course has a more global focus considering: the concept of security; transnational migration; the impact of gender in armed conflict; women, sexuality and human rights; and the importance of gender in international development. We will look at the role of civil society as well as ‘gender machinery/mechanism’ in promoting gender equality, such as specialist government departments and quangos concerned with gender and equality.

Various case studies are used to examine the ways that gender and sexuality is constructed through and constructs political practices and institutions. As women are often the underrepresented sex in a variety of political processes, we will therefore often discuss the issue of women’s equality.

However, throughout the course we will seek to focus on ‘gender’ rather than on ‘women’ examining male dominance in political institutions and the significance of masculinity as well as sexuality in politics. It also highlights how differences such as gender, class, ethnicity, nationality, age and sexuality intersect to create inequalities in contemporary globalised world.

Different materials (newspaper articles, radio programmes, video clips etc.) will be used in the course to facilitate discussion on current issues in gender and politics, and additional reading resources will be provided to explore feminist methodologies. Each class has a lecture followed by a seminar and participation in discussion is required. 

By the end of the course the students will:

  • be familiar with key concepts, theories and policy questions around gender and politics;
  • have a sound understanding of the role of gender in political activities and institutions;
  • be able to critically assess the arguments for and against greater gender equality in different political institutions;
  • have explored the various mechanisms for developing gender sensitive public policies;
  • understand some of the key issues regarding gender in international politics;
  • be fully aware of the importance of an intersectional approach to study gender and politics;
  • have explored the multiplicity of feminist methodologies;
  • have critically reviewed the literature on gender and politics;
  • have studied in depth at least two questions in politics and gender, and be able to communicate these through essays and/or seminar discussions;
  • understand the contribution that a gendered analysis of politics has made to the study of politics in general.