Issues in Gender and Development

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 3
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Development Studies

Module overview

The purpose of this module is both to familiarise students with the main debates in the field of gender and development and to introduce new ways of conceptualising the field, critiquing both the concept of gender as generally applied in development, and development itself. This module could better be titled Gender, Masculinities and Development, since it does not assume that gender is a proxy for women or for women’s rights or to denote power relations in a way that focuses on women’s disadvantages compared with men’s. Instead, gender will be defined in a relational manner and applied to men as much as to women. Throughout the module men and masculinities will be treated as an integral part of the field alongside women and femininities. Moreover, gender is understood not simply as an issue of individual male-female relationships but also as integral to power relations of all kinds, from global politics to local individuals, and gender norms at the community level are shown to be strongly influenced by the national, regional, and even the global. This module, therefore, will focus on the implications of gender as socio-politically constructed. This will facilitate moving beyond the mainstream conceptualisation of the field of gender and development that in many respects continues to reflect its origins in the women in development paradigm that focused almost entirely on women, treating men as the problem.


Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

By the end of this module students should have

  • a knowledge of a significant number of concepts in the field of gender and development and the tools to critique it.
  • the capacity to assess the historical development of gender and sexuality in a given context and to understand the role played by coloniality in shaping how these developed in the global south.
  • an understanding of the centrality of gender in the form of masculinism to global and national politics, militarism and warfare, capitalism, neoliberalism and the economy, as well as to attitudes towards the environment.
  • the awareness that gender is not simply a matter of women’s rights or of individuals and that it applies as much to men as to women as well as to the structures of the global political economy.


Teaching takes place through a weekly two-hour seminar

Method of assessment

100% Coursework.  Resubmission of coursework regulations apply to this module.


Suggested reading

A note of bibliographic advice:
The resources for gender and development have expanded a great deal and all relevant UN agencies have websites. Some of you may wish to access UN and other documents. Here are some useful Internet addresses:

There are four edited collections, which may be useful to share/acquire since they include many key texts for the course:

  • Jackson, C. and Pearson, R. (eds) (1998) Feminist Visions of Development (Routledge).
  • McDowell, L. and Sharp, J.P. (eds) (1997) Space, Gender and Knowledge (Arnold).
  • Visvanathan, N. et al (1997) The Women, Gender and Development Reader (Zed Books).
  • Sparr, P. (ed.) Mortgaging Women’s Lives: Feminist Critiques of Structural Adjustment (Zed)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules