Module code: SOCM071

Module Overview

This module provides an overview of histories of sex, gender and sexuality. Students will learn to think historically about the complexities of sex, gender and sexuality. The module introduces critical perspectives on the fact that understandings of sex, gender, and sexuality have varied dramatically historically, not always being understood in the ways we do now. Not only this, but the module has a global focus, equipping students with the skills needed to interrogate different contemporary and historical understandings of sex, gender and sexuality from around the world.


The module provides a foundation for thinking historically about sex, gender and sexuality in other modules, and outside of university. Students will be introduced to physical and digital archives, and supported in developing the critical skills needed to navigate these.


Sex/uality is deliberately used in this module’s title to indicate that sex, gender and sexuality are entangled. 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

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 106

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 11

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 always cutting edge. This approach means students gain insight into varied perspectives and approaches, while still benefiting from having one module leader. 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; 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 that they have met the learning outcomes associated with this module.


The assessments offer students the opportunity to demonstrate that they can: 1) select case studies of interest from the history of sex, gender and sexuality; 2) apply relevant theories and concepts to these case studies and write critically and academically about them; and 3) think reflexively about their own positionality.


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Essay, 50% (addresses learning outcomes 1, 2 and 5)

  • Reflexive Portfolio, 50% (addresses learning outcomes 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6)


Formative assessment and feedback:

Students will take part in group tasks in class throughout the module, during which they will receive formative feedback. Detailed guidance on how to complete the summative assessments is given in class and on SurreyLearn. The weekly seminars will include peer-to-peer learning, but also engagement with the module leader for multiple opportunities for feedback. This approach centres communication skills and teamwork, as appropriate for success at Master’s level. There will be dedicated assignment weeks to explore students’ plans for the assignments and allow for questions. Formal feedback from Assignment 1 will be provides well in advance of the deadline for Assignment 2.

Module aims

  • Provide students with a strong knowledge base in the histories of sex, gender and sexuality
  • Facilitate students in exploring how sex, gender and sexuality are distinct but connected
  • Develop students' research and analytical skills to apply to their own area of interest
  • Enable students to consider sophisticated topics, issues and debates in history and historiography
  • Facilitate independent thinking, reflection and scholarship alongside peer-to-peer learning opportunities

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Demonstrate extensive and in-depth knowledge of the histories of sex, gender and sexuality KC
002 Select key case studies and examples of historical interest KC
003 Outline and critically evaluate relevant theories, concepts and research from the history and historiography of sex, gender and sexuality K
004 Develop critical historiographical skills KCT
005 Apply key theoretical issues and independent research to key case studies CT
006 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 equip students with the skills needed to select case studies from the history of sex, gender and sexuality, and critically analyse these in the light of key theoretical issues and debates. In this module, students will gain a familiarity with staff from various disciplinary backgrounds who incorporate an element of historical research into their work. The module embeds research-led teaching at the centre of its pedagogical approach, utilizing the expertise of staff who have direct research experience in the field. Students will be supported in developing a clear sense of cohort support and cohesion, via peer-to-peer learning approaches in seminars, as well as provided with a strong base of knowledge and skills transferable to the rest of the MSc. The learning and teaching approaches will develop and assess scholarly skills as well as students’ ability to reflect on their own experiences and positionality. Lectures and seminars will include a range of methods including but not restricted to: class discussions; archival research; close reading; video analysis; playful pedagogy; creative tasks.

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

The Department of Sociology is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability, and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills, and capabilities in the following areas:



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. A wide range of research expertise and roles will be demonstrated to students in the teaching, including but not limited to archivists, collection managers and history records.


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. This module is therefore ideally situated to support students at the beginning of a Master’s 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 is at the heart of this module. 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 from the past, but also in sustaining future archives, histories and research.


Resourcefulness and Resilience

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. 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.

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 2025/6 academic year.