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Unit information: Law Gender and Sexuality in 2013/14

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Unit name Law Gender and Sexuality
Unit code LAWDM0033
Credit points 30
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Bibbings
Open unit status Open




School/department University of Bristol Law School
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit will consider the following: feminist and masculinities theories as well as theories of sexuality as they relate to law (including regulating the body; criminal law and criminal justice; family law; policing sex; human rights).

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit, a successful student will be able to explain:

a) the basic theories of sex, gender etc;

b) the relevance of these theories to legal studies

c) the application of these theories to specific topic areas studied;, In relation to c) they should be able to: explain the different approaches to sex and gender etc (essentialist, social constructionist etc) and discuss them in relation to, for example, criminal law and criminal justice and other topics studied. They should also be able to explain and analyse theories of masculinities and femininities and sexualities in general as well as in the context of specific topics like the family and family law. Students should be able to critically assess both theories and the law and discuss potential solutions to any problems with current law and social policy, including the usefulness or otherwise of law reform. This unit is also intended to improve benchmark skills – specifically research skills.

The essay questions are designed to assess both whether students are able to understand and apply the ideas about sex and gender etc across the breadth of the syllabus, and whether they were able to think critically about sex, gender and law.

Teaching details

11 X 2 hour seminars

Assessment Details

3 X 3000 WORD ESSAYS, 20%, 40%, 40%

Reading and References

H. Kennedy Eve was Framed (Vintage: London, 2005); C. Smart Feminism and the Power of Law (London: Routledge, 1989); R. Hunter, C. McGlynn, E. Rackley (eds) Feminist Judgements: From Theory to Practice (Hart: London, 2010); L. Bibbings ‘Heterosexuality as Harm: Fitting In’ in D. Gordon, P. Hillyard, C. Pantazis, S. Tombs Beyond Criminology: Taking Harm Seriously (Pluto Press, 2004); L. Bibbings ‘Images of Manliness: The Portrayal of Soldiers and Conscientious Objectors in the Great War’ (2003) 12(3) Social and Legal Studies 335-358.