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Unit information: The Politics of Gender in 2016/17

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Unit name The Politics of Gender
Unit code POLI31351
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Childs
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit examines the contemporary literature on women and politics, with a particular focus on women's participation and representation in British politics. It explores the gender gap in voting patterns and mass political participation; the under-representation of women in national legislatures and strategies for increasing women's descriptive representation. It also considers why the number of women in parliaments might matter and what difference women representatives might make to the policy process.


  • To convey key contemporary research in relation to women’s elite and mass political participation
  • To compare and contrast explanations for women’s descriptive representation
  • To evaluate various strategies for increasing women’s descriptive representation
  • To critically consider the extant empirical and theoretical literature on the relationship between women’s descriptive and substantive representation
  • To critically consider the extant literature on the media and women and politics

Intended learning outcomes

  1. An understanding of debates about the nature of women’s political participation and representation
  2. A detailed knowledge of the various explanations for women’s under-representation and proposals to increase levels of women’s descriptive representation
  3. An ability to apply theoretical and normative frameworks to evaluate the above debates as well as those associated with the substantive representation of women
  4. An ability to engage constructively in focused deliberation on theoretical issues
  5. An ability to give effective oral presentations to one’s peers
  6. An ability to write clearly and analytically, making use of the relevant material
  7. An ability to express, justify and defend orally and in writing a personal opinion about political issues

Teaching details

3 hour seminar.

Assessment Details

  • 1 x 20 minute, Seminar Presentation worth 15% of total unit mark (individual or team)
  • 1 x 3,000 word, end of unit Extended Essay, worth 85% of total unit mark
  • In addition to academic skills (argument making, substantiation and defence), the oral presentation will also enable the development of transferable skills, not least appropriate use of Powerpoint. (Learning outcomes 5 and 7)
  • The extended essay reflects the ‘narrow and deep’ nature of this unit. Students are expected to engage in a topic of their choice and to read extensively from the primary sources relevant to it, rather than relying on ‘textbook’/introductory materials. Drawing on the insights gained from their reading for the annotated bibliography, but of course, reading additional material, this assessment provides for the evaluation of student’s abilities to construct an in-depth, fulsome and substantiated answer to an agreed question. (Learning outcomes 1-4 and 6)

Reading and References

  • Childs, S. (2008) Women and British Party Politics (Routledge: London)
  • Lovenduski, J. (2005) Feminizing Politics (Polity: Cambridge)