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POLS511 Sex/Gender in Western Political Thought

Critically explores sex/gender roles in Western political thought through a history of ideas approach.

This paper explores the meaning of sex and gender in the 21st century from a variety of perspectives in Western political theory by focusing on the nature/nurture debate as a central theme. It draws on the way psychological, cultural and biological ideas mutually reinforce key political ideas to investigate beliefs about the origins of men's and women's separate social and political roles. It challenges the notion that questions of sex and gender are synonymous with women to the exclusion of men and traces how this separate-sphere mentality is incompatible with the stated aims of free society or of social, political and economic inclusion.

Paper title Sex/Gender in Western Political Thought
Paper code POLS511
Subject Politics
EFTS 0.2500
Points 30 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2018
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,646.75
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $5,250.00

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POLS 411
Limited to
May not be credited with POLS 432 passed in 2010 or 2013.
Course outline
View the course outline for POLS 511
Teaching staff
Dr Carla Lam
Paper Structure
  • Week 1: Introductions and course administration
  • Week 2: Central themes in sex/gender and Western political thought; the "woman question"; 'What is sex/gender?'; central debates of (feminist) theory and sex/gender in Western politics
  • Week 3: Sex/gender, nature and politics
  • Week 4: Plato
  • Week 5: Aristotle
  • Week 6: Hobbes
  • Week 7: Locke
  • Week 8: Rousseau and Wollstonecraft
  • Week 9: Mill and Taylor
  • Week 10: Marx
  • Week 11: Foucault
  • Week 12: Sex/gender and the future
  • Week 13: Conclusion and review
Textbooks are not required for this paper. Readings will be made available via Blackboard.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Communication, Critical thinking, Ethics, Research.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the paper will be able to
  • Assess and engage with all the mandatory material listed in the syllabus to link the central contributions of each major thinker regarding women and gender
  • Describe and evaluate sex/gender as a fundamental aspect of the canon of Western political thought and a history of ideas
  • Identify contemporary sex/gender debates
  • Apply critical assessment encountered in class to such debates
  • Develop and refine research skills

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Not offered in 2018

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system