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Unit information: Sex, Gender and Law in 2015/16

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 Sex, Gender and Law
Unit code LAWD30110
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Bibbings
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

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 sex, gender etc
  • Explain the relevance of these theories to legal studies
  • Explain the application of these theories to specific topic areas studied, including:
    • explaining the different approaches to sex and gender etc (essentialist, social constructionist etc) and discussing them in relation to, for example, criminal law and criminal justice and other topics studied
    • explaining and analysing theories of masculinities and femininities and sexualities in general as well as in the context of specific topics like the family and family law
  • 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.

Teaching Information

10 lectures and 10 two-hour seminars.

Assessment Information

Formative: 2000 word essay (mandatory)

Summative: 2 x 2,000 word essays - 50% each

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. The assessments will assess all of the intended learning outcomes for this unit.

Reading and References

Helena Kennedy, Eve was Framed (Vintage: London, 2005); Carol Smart Feminism and the Power of Law (London: Routledge, 1989); Rosemary Hunter, Claire McGlynn, Erika. Rackley (eds) Feminist Judgements: From Theory to Practice (Hart: London, 2010); Joanne Conaghan Gender and Law (Oxford: OUP, 2013); Lois Bibbings Binding Men: Stories About Violence and Law in Late Victorian England (London: Routledge, 2014); Joanne Conaghan and Yvette Russell (2014) ‘Rape myths, law, and feminist research: "myths about myths"?’ Feminist Legal Studies 22(1), 25-48.