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Unit information: Domestic Violence: Research, Policy and Activism in 2015/16

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Unit name Domestic Violence: Research, Policy and Activism
Unit code SPOLM5010
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Aghtaie
Open unit status Open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


Domestic Violence: Research, Policy and Activism

Domestic violence policy and research perspectives are developing at a fast rate in the UK and globally. The Violence Against Women Research Group in SPS has a national and international standing in the field of domestic violence research and activism and the Group provides teaching at under-graduate and post-graduate levels and undertakes Masters and PhD level supervision. It would therefore be appropriate for the Group to design and deliver a specialist input on domestic violence and, where relevant, on others forms of violence against women, on the Graduate Programme in Policy Research. The aims of this Programme are to examine contemporary developments in policy research and to explore the links between policy and practice. Domestic and other forms of violence against women are currently the subjects of substantial policy development at both government and non-governmental levels and focused research activity and thus, it would be both appropriate and particularly timely to offer students the opportunity to examine such issues of social and public policy and research. The subject is an important one for Masters and other graduate students to study and the Unit will provide a flexible and comprehensive option, led by researchers with strong reputations in the field and with input from relevant activist practitioner organisations.


  • To develop an understanding of the key theoretical and practical issues involved in attempting to understand domestic violence against women
  • To explore the practical and theoretical aspects of undertaking research on domestic violence within the wider context of feminist understandings of research methodologies
  • To gain an understanding of the links between research, activism and policy in the domestic violence field
  • To develop these understandings at Master’s level.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of the unit, students will:

  • Have a clear analysis of and an ability to debate the nature, extent, impacts and policy implications of domestic violence
  • Be confident in interpreting domestic violence research and in understanding the methods used
  • Have developed an overview of issues relating to domestic violence within research, theoretical, personal, practical and ‘political’ frameworks
  • Be able to understand activism, research and policy responses within the wider context of the loose-knit activist and global movement against domestic violence
  • Have a theoretical and practical analysis of these issues specifically at Master’s level.

Teaching details

Teaching will take place in 12 x 1.5 hour sessions. A speaker will lead the sessions (either from the academic staff: Melanie McCarry or Gill Hague) or from relevant organizations including voluntary and activist organizations such as Women’s Aid. However, participants will be expected to contribute in various ways to the group and though individual activities in order to make the unit a shared and co-operative endeavour. These inputs will vary between sessions. Because of the sensitive nature of this issue, there may be some personal discussion which may have an emotional impact. If participants have experienced domestic violence, there will be no expectation that they will have to disclose this.

Assessment Details

Assessment is through the completion of a 3500-word essay. The essay should demonstrate that the student has a clear understanding of: relevant theoretical, practical and ‘political’ frameworks used to explain domestic violence, the epistemological, methodological and ethical problems associated with research in this field, the policy implications of domestic violence.

Reading and References

  • Aghtaie, N. (2015) Iranian Womens Perspectives On Violence Against Women In Iran And The UK, Iranian Studies ,

Aghtaie, N. and Gangoli, G. eds (2014) Understanding Gender Based Violence. National and international contexts. Routledge.

  • Aghtaie, N. (2011) Breaking the silence: rape law in Iran and controlling womens sexuality. In N. Westmarland & G. Gangoli, International Approaches to Rape. London: Policy Press.
  • Dobash, R.E. and Dobash, R. (1992) Women, Violence and Social Change. London: Routledge.
  • Gangoli, G & Rew.M, (2011) Mothers-in-law against daughters-in-law: domestic violence and legal discourses around mothers-in-law against daughters-in-laws in India. Women's Studies International Journal, vol 34., pp. 420 - 429
  • Hague, G. and Malos, E. (3rd Edition) (2005) Domestic Violence: Action for Change. Cheltenham: New Clarion Press.
  • Hague, G. Mullender, A. and Aris, R. (2003) Is Anyone Listening? Accountability and Women Survivors of Domestic Violence. London: Routledge.
  • Hanmer, J. and Itzen, C. (Eds.) (2000) Home Truths about Domestic Violence. London: Routledge.
  • Hester, M. (2013), From Report to Court: Rape and the Criminal Justice System in the North East. Bristol: University of Bristol
  • Hester, M. (2013) Who does what to whom? Gender and domestic violence perpetrators in English police reports.European Journal of Criminology., pp. 1-15
  • Hester, M., Harwin, N. and Pearson, C. with H. Abrahams (2nd Edition) (2007) Making an Impact: Children and Domestic Violence. A Reader. London: Jessica Kingsley.
  • Hester, M. and Westmarland, N. (2005) Tackling Domestic Violence: Effective Interventions and Approaches. Home Office Research Study 290. London: Home Office.
  • Mullender, A., Hague, G., Imam, A., Kelly, L., Malos, E. and Regan, L. (2002) Childrens Perspectives on Domestic Violence. London: Sage.
  • Skinner, T., Hester, M. and Malos, E. (Eds.) (2005) Researching Gender Violence: Feminist Methodology in Action. Devon: Willan.
  • Stark, E. (2007) Coercive Control: How Men Entrap Women in Personal Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Taylor-Browne, J. (Ed.) (2001) What Works in Reducing Domestic Violence: A comprehensive guide for professionals (Home Office Review) London: Whiting and Birch.
  • Williamson, E. (2010), Living in the world of the domestic violence perpetrator: Negotiating the unreality of coercive control. Violence Against Women, vol 16., pp. 1412 - 1423