Module code: SOCM071

Module Overview

This module provides an overview of histories of sex, gender and sexuality. In providing a historical angle on these topics students will garner an understanding of the complexities of these areas, as well as glean how to they have been understood across time and place. Effort is made in this module to demonstrate how societies¿ understandings of sex, gender and sexuality have varied dramatically (and have not always been constructed in the ways we understand them today). Sex/uality is deliberately used in the title of this module to indicate how entangled these concepts are historically. Students will gain a global and historical perspective in this module and comprehend the challenges and opportunities available when thinking historically about these topics.

Module provider


Module Leader

GRIFFITHS David (Sociology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

JACs code:

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 120

Lecture Hours: 10

Seminar Hours: 10

Guided Learning: 10

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

This module is taught by staff who have experience in specific areas of histories of sex/uality, meaning content is at the utmost cutting edge. This team taught approach means students gain insight into varied perspectives and approaches and are benefitted from being taught from a small team of staff. In order to ensure this grounding in a research-led approach, exact content is determined by the research interests and experience of the staff who teach it which may vary year to year.

Indicative content for this module includes: an overview of historical and cultural variations in approaches to sex, gender and sexuality, sex/uality from the medieval to the present; introductions to historical understandings of intersex; trans scholarship; key historical case studies and examples; in depth consideration of historiographic topics, issues and debates; the medicalisation and pathologisation of LGBTQI people; sexology; linguistics and discourse changes relevant to sex, gender and sexuality studies; activism and LGBTQI rights.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Essay 50
Coursework Reflexive Portfolio 50

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate:

A sophisticated and in depth understanding of the histories of sex, gender and sexuality, paying particular attention to key issues and historiographic challenges and opportunities afforded by studying gender and sexuality. The first assignment in particular will access the students’ ability to write academically about key issues in this area (eg Presentism). The second assignment, in contrast, assesses students’ ability to write in more creative and reflexive ways. This assignment takes the form of a reflexive portfolio and it asks students to reflect on their own experiences of specific weeks of the module, as well as their own positionality in relation to some of the key content provided by a range of lecturers.

  Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Essay 50%

  • Reflexive Portfolio 50%

  Formative assessment

There is no formative assessment for this module. However, opportunities are available for students to receive verbal feedback on assignment plans and ideas in the two dedicated assignment weeks in the module.


Each week the interactive and group focused seminars will allow for informal feedback and module leader engagement. The peer-to-peer learning will also be occurring in this time and so students will also be in effect providing feedback to one another throughout the module. This ties closely with skills around communication, team work,  as appropriate for success at the master’s level. It also supports the goal of developing a coherent cohort identity within the programme’s multidisciplinary contexts. There will be dedicated assignment weeks to explore student’s plans for the assignments and allow for any questions. Formal feedback from Assignment 1 will be provided in advance of the deadline for Assignment 2.

Module aims

  • Provide a strong knowledge base in the histories of sex and gender
  • Explore in depth how sex and gender pertain to sexuality
  • Develop historical analytical skills for students to use and apply to their own areas of study
  • Advanced consideration of historiographic topics, issues and debates
  • Facilitate independent thinking, reflection and scholarship alongside peer-to-peer learning opportunities

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 To gain extensive in-depth knowledge regarding the histories of sex, gender and sexuality K
002 Develop critical historiographic skills C
003 Ability to apply theoretical issues to key case studies and examples of historical interest CKPT
004 Demonstrate sophisticated understanding of key issues pertinent to studies of sex, gender and sexuality K
005 Develop communication skills beyond academic writing in reflexive accounts of learning PT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:


  • Provide students with a familiarity of staff with various disciplinary backgrounds who all research histories of sex/uality.

  • Embed research led teaching at the core of its pedagogical approach, utilising the expertise of staff who have direct research experience in this field.

  • Allow students to develop a clear sense of cohort support and cohesion via peer-to-peer learning approaches in seminars

  • Provide students with a strong basis of appropriate knowledge and skills to embark on the rest of the programme

  • Assess students’ scholarly skills as well as their ability to reflect on their own positionality

  • Provide students with the opportunity to understand more about archives and collections through a field trip to the Surrey History Centre

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: SOCM071

Other information

In line with Surrey¿s Curriculum Framework, we are committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module contributes to the five pillars in the following ways: Employability Students will gain substantial professional skills throughout this module applicable to employability and future careers. This is perhaps most relevant in the focus on historical methods, archives and collections. Students will be exposed to a whole sector of working life through the field trip to the Surrey History Centre. There will therefore not only be a wide range of research expertise and roles demonstrated to students in the teaching, but archivists, collection managers and history records will be also demonstrated as a possible employment route. Digital capabilities As with all modules there is a level of digital skill and ability that is expected and demonstrated through engagement with the content and learning materials. All teaching materials and key content will be made available in multimedia forms through the Virtual Learning Environment Surreylearn. In addition, key online catalogues will also be explored in this module, for example the LGBT magazine archive that the library has full access to. Component elements making up the reflexive portfolio will be designed to support students¿ development of a range of digital capabilities, for example, in using a range of digital tools. There will therefore be an extensive range of digital literacy required tapping into key skills such as independent learning, resourcefulness, initiative and confidence. This module is therefore ideally situated to support students at the beginning of the programme to ensure a strong background knowledge and welcome to key Surrey institutional tools and resources. Global and cultural capabilities In terms of content this module contains a vast range of areas which will inform and develop students¿ global and cultural awareness. With particular focus on histories of sex and sexuality there will be global and highly cultural contextual material provided. This module is focused on lived experiences of diverse lives throughout time and so seeks to deliberately advance students¿ knowledge and sensitivity to pertinent issues. The LGBT magazine archive is also a global resource. Students will be engaging with their own positionality and reflections in the second assignment and will therefore be able to recognise their own global and cultural locations across such a highly contextual field. Sustainability At the heart of this module is history and historical approaches both of which depend highly on the concept of sustainability. In order to conduct strong archival research, such resources, materials and evidence of past lives must be sustained, preserved and made accessible. The UN¿s goal of sustainability includes sustaining communities (Number 11) and this module is focused not only on those communities form the past, but also in sustaining future archives, histories and research ¿ and it will do so by instilling the potential into the students on the programme. Resourcefulness and resilience As this module is team taught students will be exposed to a range of academics whose work uses various and multiple forms of historical data and resources. Students will therefore be able to consider the wide range of people and projects which make up the area and get the opportunity to learn from those at the cutting edge of research in the field. Such research-led teaching will introduce them to independent research skills and projects including examples from archives and collections (notwithstanding the field trip to the Surrey History Centre). The assessments allow students to engage with critical historiographical issues and produce a reflective account of key areas of learning, these directly contribute to the development of resourcefulness and resilience. For example, the reflexive report provides space to consider positionality and personal experience. These not only give them a grounding confidence for the rest of the programme but also provides space for more creative approaches. Following the end of this module students will be expected to have greater ownership of learning and agency.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Sex, Gender and Sexualities MSc 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2024/5 academic year.