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Unit information: Law Gender and Sexuality in 2018/19

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

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 Dr. Katie Cruz
Open unit status Not 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. Other topics vary from year to year but can, for example, include: female suffrage campaigns; regulating the body; family law; reproduction; human rights; pornography; employment; legal reasoning; male violence).).

Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Explain the basic theories of gender and sexuality
  • Explain the application of these theories to specific topic areas studied
  • Explain the relevance of these theories to legal studies
  • Critically assess feminist and queer theories through comparison and develop your own opinion on the relative strengths/weaknesses of each theory
  • Critically assess the relevance of feminist and queer theories to the law, including how they help us understand the constitution and effects of the law, whether they highlight potential solutions to problems with current law and social policy, and what they tell us about the usefulness or otherwise of law reform

Teaching details

This unit is taught by way of 10 lectures (approx.), 10 two-hour seminars and 2 assessment preparation and feedback sessions. Lectures are delivered jointly to students on the related undergraduate unit.

Assessment Details

Summative: 2 x 3000 word essays (50% each). Both assessments will assess all of the Intended Learning Outcomes for this unit in the context of topics selected by the examiners.

Formative: students should do one formative assessment (this will usually be 1 x 1500 word essay).

Reading and References

  • Catharine A. MacKinnon, Towards a Feminist Theory of the State (Harvard University Press 1989)
  • Nancy Holmstrom (ed), The Socialist Feminist Project: A Contemporary Reader in Theory and Politics (Monthly Review Press 2002)
  • Sandra Harding (ed), The Feminist Standpoint Theory Reader: Intellectual and Political Controversies (Routledge 2004)
  • Carol Smart Feminism and the Power of Law (Routledge, 1989)
  • Rosemary Hunter, Claire McGlynn and Erika Rackley (eds) Feminist Judgements: From Theory to Practice (Hart, 2010)
  • Kimberlé Crenshaw, ‘Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and antiracist politics’. University of Chicago Legal Forum (1989): 139.
  • Judith Butler Gender Trouble (Routledge, 1990)
  • Joanne Conaghan Law and Gender (OUP, 2013)
  • Joanne Conaghan and Yvette Russell ‘Rape myths, law, and feminist research: "myths about myths"?’ Feminist Legal Studies (2014) 22(1): 25-48.