Skip to main content

Unit information: Sexualities in 2021/22

Unit name Sexualities
Unit code HIST30118
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Jones
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

Over the last forty years, the history of sexuality has been at the forefront of historical investigation. Historians have attempted to chart attitudes towards, and experiences of, sex, sexuality and intimate relationships across a wide range of societies and over long periods of time.

This unit takes as its starting point Michel Foucault’s path-breaking text The History of Sexuality. Foucault argued that the discourse of sexuality as identity did not exist before the late nineteenth century; before this, he suggested, ‘sex’ had simply been a series of acts. This account had a profound influence on subsequent studies of sexuality, but questions have emerged over how accurately this model describes sexual cultures in the modern West, the pre-modern world, and non-Western societies.

This unit will consider the history of sexuality from a range of geographical and chronological perspectives. Drawing upon a variety of written, visual, theoretical and political sources, we will explore the relationship between sex and identity as well as how the histories of the body, the law, popular cultures and technology all shaped understandings of sexuality in the past.

This unit aims to:

  • introduce students to how sexualities were understood and experienced differently in past societies;
  • provide a critical overview of the existing scholarship on historic sexuality.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Successful students will be able to:

  1. Explain and interrogate major changes in sexual practice and experience in the past
  2. Assess how the history of sexuality has been shaped by key theorists and thinkers such as Foucault
  3. Discuss and evaluate the key historiographical debates surrounding the history of sexuality
  4. Understand and interpret primary sources and select pertinent evidence in order to illustrate specific and more general historical points
  5. Present their research and judgements in oral and written forms and styles appropriate to the discipline and to level H/6

Teaching Information

Classes will involve a combination of long- and short-form lectures, class discussion, investigative activities, and practical activities. Students will be expected to engage with readings and participate on a weekly basis. This will be further supported with drop-in sessions and self-directed exercises with tutor and peer feedback.

Assessment Information

1 x 2500-word Essay (50%), ILOs 1-5

1 x Timed Assessment (50%), ILOs 1-5

1 x Formative Presentation, ILOs 1-5


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. HIST30118).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.