SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

H213 Gender in History

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 2 or Year 3
Taught in:
Term 2

This module explores gender in historical perspective, combining a general introduction to gender history with a case-study based on the specialisation and research expertise of the tutor. The first five weeks provide a detailed introduction to the positioning of history as a discipline vis-à-vis gender studies. After the definition of key terms of inquiry (gender, sex, sexuality, feminism, masculinity), students will be introduced to the main tools of historians who wish to adopt a gender perspective, revealing how gender becomes not only an object of inquiry but a methodology in itself. The module will consider the intersection of social groups and gender using a multidisciplinary approach, including some work from the social sciences. It will also go beyond the narrative of women’s history in the West to look at gender in history beyond colonial boundaries, at masculinities in history and at alternatives to hegmonic conceptions of masculinity. Throughout, students will be asked to engage with primary sources, to think about whose voice each of them are transmitting, and to consider how a gender perspective can change the reading of a given source. They will be asked to focus as well on alternative sources to retrieve gender history when subjects of inquiry are not immediately visible in standard grand narratives.


  • Students enrol via the on-line Module Sign-up system. Students are advised of the timing of this process via email by the Dept. administrator

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • Distinguish what makes a research question historical, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to a problem and of the possibilities and limits of various kinds of sources.
  • Produce and refine such a question through the identification of, engagement with, and critique of existing historiography, using the conceptual tools of the module to reframe prior learning.
  • Integrate material from a variety of sources, both primary and secondary, in order to explore a research question and hypothesis.
  • Present the findings of the research in a way that demonstrates a capacity to think conceptually, while developing competency as a historian.

Scope and syllabus

Part 1 – Introduction to gender studies and history

Week 1: Introduction to gender in historical perspective
Week 2: Gendered writing, whose history?
Week 3: Historical figures from beggar to politician? Gender vs. Social solidarities
Week 4: Gender, leadership and social movements in history
Week 5: Theorising and performing masculinities, a historical topic?

Part 2 – Case studies

Week 6: Introduction to the historiography of gender in the region
Week 7: How gender (re)shapes political landscapes
Week 8: Gender, work and class
Week 9: Exploring gender between religion and the law
Week 10: The performance of desire: Gender, sexualities and emotions

Method of assessment

  • Exam (50%)
  • Research proposal or source interpretation or response paper, 500 words (10%)
  • Essay, 2,500 words (40%)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules