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Gender and Sexuality in International Politics


Admission requirements

There are no admission requirements or restrictions, but students are expected to be open-minded and tolerant of different opinions.


This seminar looks at the role that gender and sexuality play in international politics. While both topics were long absent from the International Relations agenda, scholars have begun to explore their different facets through a variety of theoretical lenses. This course surveys the burgeoning literature on the international politics of gender and sexuality.

After a brief interlude that situates scholarship on gender and sexuality within the discipline of International Relations, the course is divided into two main parts that are organized thematically. The first part covers gender-related topics, including: gender mainstreaming, gender quotas, domestic and wartime violence against women, female genital cutting, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and reproductive rights. The second part focuses on themes concerning sexuality in international politics. They include same-sex unions, the adoption of anti-gay laws, homonationalism, LGBT rights at the United Nations and the Christian Right.

Notwithstanding the thematic organization of the course, students will be exposed to a range of theoretical approaches that address matters of gender and sexuality in radically different ways. The syllabus will consist of both academic and nonacademic readings.

Course objectives

Objective 1: Students will be able to display a familiarity with current debates on gender and sexuality in international politics. They will furthermore be able to demonstrate knowledge of the various domestic, international and transnational forces that shape the politics of gender and sexuality at the international level.

Objective 2: Students will be able to engage critically with arguments for and against specific policies on gender and sexuality. This includes an ability to argue all sides of the debate.

Mode of instruction


Course Load

A brief calculation of the course load, broken down by:

  • Total course load for the course (number of EC x 28 hours), for a course of 5 EC is 140 hours, for 10 EC 280.

  • Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars (eg 2 hours per week x 14 weeks = 28 hours)

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature (as a possible criterion approx. 7 pages per hour with deviations up and down depending on the material to be studied) (if applicable) time for completing assignments, whether in preparation at the college

  • (If applicable) time to write a paper (including reading / research)

Assessment method

In addition to class participation (15%), a student’s final grade is composed of four elements.

Op-ed and response paper (25%): This assignment is linked to the debate (see below). Students will write an op-ed and a response paper on a polarizing topic related to gender or sexuality at the international level (TBD). The op-ed is intended for a general, non-academic audience. Students will be randomly assigned a position, with half of the students arguing in favor of the motion and half arguing against. Students will then be paired with someone who has the opposite view. In a second step, students will write a response paper of between 450 and 550 words in which they criticize the op-ed of the student whom they are paired with. This paper should rebut the arguments that the opponent makes in his or her op-ed.

Debate (15%): This assignment is based on the same motion as the op-ed (see above). During an in-class debate, students will be expected to hold the opposite view from the one that they defended in the op-ed.

Documentary review (20%): The central objective of this assignment is to use relevant class readings in analyzing a documentary. Students will be given a list of documentaries to choose from.

Final exam (25%): At the end of the semester, during examination week, students will be tested on their knowledge of the course material in a written, two-hour and closed-book exam. The exam will take the form of short essay questions. There is no opportunity to re-take the exam.

Reading list

There are no required purchases for this class. All readings will be made available on Blackboard.

Please be sure to enroll on Blackboard where you can find the syllabus and the readings for the first class.


See general information on tab 'Year 3'




Martijn Mos
Office TBD
Office hours TBD