Religion, Culture and Gender

Unit code : RELT20121
Credit rating : 20
Teaching period(s) : Semester 1

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Aims | Objectives | Assessment | Information | Course unit content |
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To introduce and assess the impact of contemporary critical studies of gender on Western society and religion and vice versa.

Objectives (Learning outcomes)

By the end of this course students should be able to:

  • Offer a critical account of the changing nature of gender roles, relations and representations in contemporary Western culture.
  • Assess the impact of changing gender roles, relationships and critical theories upon selected religious traditions as practiced in the Western world.
  • Understand the role played by gender in the construction of personal identities and social relations.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the mutually critical relationship between theory and practice.
  • Work to specific briefs, and produce material appropriate to specific audiences.
  • Present critical accounts of learning in oral and written forms.
  • Locate and retrieve materials from the library and elsewhere.
  • Work effectively as a team-member of small groups.
  • Draft and discuss proposals for research projects.


  • Make clear arguments for and against different positions.
  • Use reflexivity to undertake self-evaluation, and to become aware of their own perspectives on issues, and how these affect others.
  • Justify their own position theoretically.
  • Structure and communicate ideas effectively, both orally and in writing, to a range of audiences including non-academics.
  • Organise their own time and priorities.

Assessment methods


Assessment task

Formative or Summative


Weighting within unit (if summative)

Learning Reflection Synthesis


600 words


Learning Reflection Synthesis


2000 words


Student-led Discussion including research and reflection


1000 word equivalent


Guide Proposal linked to Student-led Discussion topic


500 words




2000 words



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Course unit overview

This course aims to evaluate shifting attitudes towards the nature of gender identity, roles and relationships in Western societies and religious traditions as practiced in the West. Emphasis will be placed on the interaction between religion, culture and gender, focusing especially on how the academic study of religion, and Western religious traditions themselves, have responded to changing gender positions and performances. The course will introduce different theoretical perspectives on gender identities, e.g. social constructionism, feminist and womanist theologies, and explore their relationship with contemporary social and political movements concerned with gender inequalities. While exploring several religious traditions, the unit will specifically identify how Jewish and Christian religious traditions have responded to the experiences of women and men in society. There will also be an opportunity to assess how contemporary images and representations of women and men in media, literature and popular culture reflect theoretical debates in the academy.

Teaching staff
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Lectures - 22 hours
Seminars - 11 hours

Teaching and learning methods

All sessions work on an interactive basis, combining presenter input with small group discussion and full group discussion.  In addition, students learn to assess their own work through feedback on the formative Learning Journal and the Student-led Discussion. The unit allows you to develop your abilities to assess popular debates critically, encouraging you to use material in the public domain.

The unit is supported by a detailed Blackboard site, which includes web links to religious organizations and to a wide range of online material, news items and films on Box of Broadcasts. The unit also uses group discussion boards for collaboration on the Student-led Discussions.