Sexuality in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Britain (HIH3595)

StaffDr Jana Funke - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesNormally 15 credits of History at level 1 or 2.
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module will explore major transformations in ideas about sexuality in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. A central aim of the module is conceptual – to show that ‘sexuality’ has a history and may be approached in a variety of ways. It will explore the idea, central to recent historiography, that ‘sexuality’ is not a ‘natural’ given which society has worked to control but that it is itself a historical construct. The module will explore these ideas in a number of key areas such as changes in the understandings of biological and sexual differences, the perception of sexual identity as central to the human self and twentieth century changes in attitudes towards sexual behaviour.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. A detailed understanding of the complex changes in sexual attitudes, behaviour and the very concept of what 'sexuality' means for both men and women in different historical contexts and discourses
  • 2. In-depth knowledge of a highly sophisticated theoretical literature and use of a range of sources such as psycho-scientific text, law suits, ministry of health pamphlets and magazines

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Ability to think deeply about complex, theoretical and conceptual issues and to apply such theories to the analysis of empirical evidence
  • 4. Ability to recognise the social construction of beliefs in the past and the present and awareness of the assumptions which can influence historical interpretation

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. Independent study and group work, including the presentation of material for group discussion, developed through the mode of learning
  • 6. Ability to digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment
  • 7. Ability to present arguments orally, and to work in a group

Syllabus plan

Lectures and seminars are arranged around the following topics:
1) Approaches to History of Sexuality
2) Medicalisation of Sex
3) Homosexuality and Heterosexuality
4) Birth control and Population
5) Sex Education and Sexual Knowledge
6) Marriage, Sex and Divorce
7) Pornography and Sexual Imagery
8) Prostitution
9) VD and AIDS
10) Rape and Sexual Violence
11) Sexual Revolution?

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities11Lectures (11x1hr)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities22Seminars (11x2hr)
Guided independent study267Reading and preparation for seminars and presentations

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Better of two essay marks252 x 2000 words1-7Verbal and written
Group presentation 2530-40 minutes1-7Verbal and written
Unseen Examination502 questions in 2 hours1-7Written

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

J.Bristow, Sexuality (Routledge, 1997)
M.J.Hyrd, Sex, Gender and Science (Palgrave, 2004)
M. Foucault, A History of Sexuality, Volume I (Penguin, 1978)
J. Weeks, Sex, Politics and Society: The Regulation of Sexuality since 1800 (2nd edn., Longman, 1989)
R. A. Nye, Sexuality: A Reader (OUP, 1999)
R. Porter and L. Hall, The Facts of Life: The Creation of Sexual Knowledge in Britain, 1650-1950 (Yale UP, 1995)
T. W. Laqueur, Making Sex: Gender and the Body from Aristotle to Freud (Harvard UP, 1990)
R. Davenport-Hines, Sex, Death and Punishment: Attitudes to Sex and Sexuality in Britain since the Renaissance (Fontana, 1991)
Lesley Hall, Sex, Gender and Social Change since 1880 (Macmillan, 2000)

Module has an active ELE page?


Available as distance learning?