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Introduction to Gender Studies


Admission requirements



In what ways does gender play a role in our daily lives and in our societies? How are our understandings and performances of gender and sexuality shaped by discourses and how do they inflect discourses in turn? How have perceptions of gender been changing and how do they vary across cultures and places? How do material factors and emotions interact with discourses in shaping gender? And, finally, how can we approach gender in a variety of manifestations and connect theory to practice?

The course will address these and related questions by providing an overview of ‘classical’ and contemporary theorizations of gender as well as looking at some differences in defining gender issues and shaping gender politics. Navigating the field of gender studies, we will look into the history of debate about gender and sexuality, and the key definitions developed by feminist critics. This will include engaging with ways of ‘doing’ femininity and masculinity and constructing gendered identity at the interface of race and sex. Furthermore, we will focus on some contributions of gender theory to the larger field of critical humanities and social sciences. Our focus will shift to the practice of doing gender analysis. Students will be introduced to a variety of materials (texts and film, mass and new media, everyday practices and international policies) and interdisciplinary approaches to working with different types of data.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of the course students will be able to:

  • describe the main conceptualizations of gender, including its intersections with other categories of difference such as race, class and sexuality;

  • reflect on the changing history and regional differences in discourses of feminism;

  • outline major theories of gender and sexuality and relate them to current social debates;

  • explain major approaches to analyzing gender practices in various disciplines/ fields of study (cultural and media studies, art and literature, sociology, anthropology, education);

  • prepare and deliver group presentation;

  • write a short analytical essay.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2020-2021 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

  • This course will be conducted as an online seminar, with two 1 hr 15 min sessions per week, over 7 weeks.

  • During weeks 1-4, the focus will be on concepts and theoretical approaches, which will be introduced through readings, discussions and case studies selected by the lecturer.

  • In week 5, the students themselves will present cases of applying theories in analyzing gender-related issues and debates.

  • Week 6 will include introductions to key areas of feminist activism and critique that are examples for conducting a scholarly analysis. This will lead to students’ own projects of observing and analyzing gender practices which they will do individually.

  • During week 8 students will write a take home-exam consisting of four short essay questions.

  • Students are expected to participate actively in classroom discussions and to bring in questions and materials relating to the topics addressed.

Assessment Method

In-class participation (attendance), 15%
Presentation (in groups of 2-3), 15%
Essay (individual) based on Fieldwork, 30%
Final take- home exam (essay questions), 40%

Reading list

For many of the sessions, you are assigned chapters from Robin Ryle’s Questioning Gender: A Sociological Exploration. 2nd edition (London: SAGE, 2015), which you should purchase or borrow from the Wijnhaven library.

Additional course readings will be announced in the course syllabus.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


(Semester 1, Block 1 + Block 2 sections)
Dr. Zerrin Cengiz

(Semester 2, Block 3 + Block 4 sections)
Dr. Paris Sébastien Cameron-Gardos,