• University of Glasgow

A Global History of Sex and Gender: Bodies and Power in the Modern World

Discover how a focus on gender and sexuality transforms our understanding of modern, global history.

10,410 enrolled on this course

A Global History of Sex and Gender: Bodies and Power in the Modern World

10,410 enrolled on this course

  • 4 weeks

  • 4 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Open level

Find out more about how to join this course

Study historical perspectives on contemporary issues of sex and gender

This course offers you the chance to explore vital historical perspectives on key contemporary issues surrounding sexuality and gender, including the #MeToo movement, campaigns for gay and trans rights, equal pay, and reproductive justice.

Track the history of the #MeToo movement

Whether you’re a curious citizen keen to learn more or you have a vocational commitment to implementing new perspectives on gender and sexuality at work, you’ll trace today’s social justice movements back to 1600, exploring the cultural and legal contexts of sexual abuse, gender-based violence, and bodily autonomy.

Through case studies of modern social justice movements, you’ll develop your understanding of the operation of, and resistance to, patriarchal and heteronormative power in diverse historical and geographical settings.

As you get to grips with sexuality and queer experiences in the modern era, you’ll explore reproductive rights issues like contraception, abortion, surrogacy, and fertility.

Explore key gender equality issues like LQBTQIA rights and the gender pay gap

You’ll study core concepts used in gender history and feminist, queer, and trans studies, including patriarchal equilibrium, hegemonic masculinity, and intersectionality.

Through creative forms of assessment, you’ll develop your skills in applying gendered and sexual approaches to a range of historical materials, such as oral testimony and material artefacts, as well as written texts.

Learn from social history experts at the Centre for Gender History

The course will be delivered by the interdisciplinary team at the Centre for Gender History at the University of Glasgow.

With world-leading expertise in this area, you’ll enhance your knowledge in gendered and sexual history with experts in the field of gender studies.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds TANYA CHEADLE: Issues of gender and sexuality appear to be a uniquely modern preoccupation, from the proliferation of queer and trans identities to the recent international women’s marches and the #metoo movement and its exposure of endemic sexual harassment and abuse. Yet throughout history, our lives have always been profoundly affected by our gender and sexual identities. They’ve shaped our home and working lives, dictated our access to wealth and social status, and have even determined what we feel and who we are intimate with. Furthermore, the language of gender has been used symbolically to justify imperial conquest, reassert traditional values, and propel citizens to war.

Skip to 0 minutes and 52 seconds Over four weeks, this free online course will teach you how to view history through a gendered lens, led by myself, Dr. Tanya Cheadle, and drawing on the very latest research from a team of interdisciplinary experts based at the world-renowned Centre for Gender History at the University of Glasgow.

Skip to 1 minute and 9 seconds We will explore why patriarchy has proved so intractable and what race and class have to do with it, how our sexual lives have been regulated and whether there’s any such thing as sexual liberation, the value past societies have placed on different forms of work and the impact this has had on women, men, and the emergence of modern industrial economies, and finally, how feminist movements across the world, themselves diverse and fractured, have championed equal rights. Join us as we take a different approach to history and equip you with the tools to write your own, more recognisable accounts of the past.

What topics will you cover?

Week 1: Gender and Power. How a gendered and sexual approach alters our understanding of the past; patriarchal and heteronormative power and its historical operation and resistance; men, masculinities and #MeToo; the sex and gender binary and beyond; new trans historical and philosophical approaches.

Week 2: Sex and Intimacy. How our bodies and their desires have been understood and regulated in the past; complicating narratives of nineteenth century sexual ‘repression’ and 1960s sexual ‘liberation’; sex, race and Empire; queer stories from history; movements for reproductive rights and justice.

Week 3: Work and Care. Feminist (re)definitions of work and care; gender inequality in pay and conditions; equal pay struggles in history and across the globe, including the 1975 ‘Women’s Day Off’ in Iceland; the historical provision of care, parenting and ‘blended families’; gender history and material culture.

Week 4: Histories of Feminism. Diverse historical and global understandings of feminism; intersectionality, feminist activism and identities of race, class, sexual orientation and disability; gendered citizenship, political rights and transnational suffrage activism; cultural forms of feminist politics.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify and describe the historical contexts of modern social justice movements such as #MeToo, and the campaigns for gay and trans rights, equal pay, and reproductive justice, from. c.1600 to the present.
  • Evaluate the utility of key theoretical concepts used in gender, feminist, queer and trans studies, such as the ‘patriarchal equilibrium’, ‘hegemonic masculinity’ and ‘intersectionality’.
  • Apply a gendered and sexual approach to historical primary sources, which could include oral testimony, databases, archives, and museum collections, as well as written texts. 4. Engage in lively and well-grounded discussion with fellow students.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in gendered and sexual history or history and social science more broadly.

However, the inclusion of theoretical material covered in the course and assessments will be useful for heritage, third-sector, educational and media workers, looking to reskill or upskill by enhancing their gender studies portfolio and expertise.

Who will you learn with?

Lecturer in Gender History at the Centre for Gender History, University of Glasgow.

I am a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre for Gender History, University of Glasgow. My research explores gender, violence, society and law in Scotland during the nineteenth century.

Reader in Modern European History.
Historian of gender, political and social conflict, 20th Century. Approaches work and life as a global citizen and a feminist.

Who developed the course?

The University of Glasgow

Founded in 1451, the University of Glasgow is the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world. It is a member of the prestigious Russell Group of leading UK research universities.

  • Established

  • Location

    Glasgow, Scotland, UK
  • World ranking

    Top 70Source: QS World University Rankings 2020

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Subscribe & save

$349.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Buy this course

$134/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 12 Jul 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

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