University of Sydney Handbooks - 2016 Archive

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Gender Studies

The Gender Studies Program is offered by the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies, within the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry (SOPHI). Gender Studies units can be taken as part of a major in the field, as a double major with Cultural Studies, or as unit choices for students taking other majors. If you are interested in taking individual Gender Studies units check the necessary prerequisites listed in the unit of study table.

About the major

Gender Studies offers you interdisciplinary perspectives on how gender shapes formal knowledge, social institutions and everyday experience. Since Simone de Beauvoir first announced, "One is not born a woman, one becomes one", the study of gender has emerged as one of the most important areas of enquiry in the Humanities and Social Sciences. A major in Gender Studies challenges our understanding of masculinity, femininity and sexuality. It provides a framework for considering all the social and cultural issues on which gender impacts, ranging from debates about marriage equality and new forms of intimacy to gendered forms of labour, violence and representational practices; and how gender intersects with other salient experiences such as race, coloniality, sexuality, class, and ability.

Historically, Gender Studies draws principally on the fields of Literary Studies, Philosophy, Psychology and Sociology but it now interacts closely with Anthropology, Law, Medicine, the natural sciences and Social Work, and indeed almost every Humanities and Social Science discipline. Gender Studies has transformed the study of social life in all fields by its interdisciplinary focus on sex, gender and sexuality and it is a crucial foundation for fields like Film and Media Studies or more policy oriented pursuits.

A major in Gender Studies will equip you with critical insight and interdisciplinary academic skills that can prepare you for further research. Graduates with a major in Gender Studies generally go on to careers that require an understanding of gender and sexuality, especially but not only in the governmental and NGO sectors, in education and in media and communications. Gender Studies complements other majors in Arts and Social Sciences and degrees in Law, Psychology, Social Work, Education, and Health.

Pathway through the major

A major in Gender Studies requires 36 senior credit points. At least 12 credit points from core units of study at 2000 level and at least 6 credit points of core units of study at 3000 level must be taken. The remaining 18 credit points may comprise any further core units or listed electives from areas including Cultural Studies, Sociology, Anthropology and Philosophy.

The units available for the major can be found in the Table A unit of study table for Gender Studies. Descriptions of units are also available. See the unit of study links at the top right of this page.

Junior units of study (1000 level)

In first year you will complete GCST1602 Introduction to Gender Studies and GCST1601 Introduction to Cultural Studies and/or GCST1603 Screen Cultures and Gender: Film to Apps. GCST1602 Introduction to Gender Studies familiarises students with foundational concepts in the study of gender, including how gender organises our lives, bodies, sexualities and desires. GCST1601 provides students with analytic skills that enable you to consider how culture is variously gendered. GCST1603 Screen Cultures and Gender: Film to Apps is a new unit which traces the history of screen cultures, focusing on how popular media is used to produce and represent masculinity and feminity.

Senior units of study (2000 and 3000 level)

You can choose from a range of senior intermediate (2000 level) units of study that are designed to broaden your knowledge of issues related to the study of gender, including sexuality and identity, sexuality and violence, theories of intimacy and friendship, masculinity and environmental issues. You complete a minimum of 12 credit points at 2000 level from core units of study.

Senior-advanced (3000 level) units of study extend the research and learning experience for students and may be taken after completion of 12 credits from core units at 2000 level. These options build on junior and senior-intermediate areas of study, including sexuality, queer theory, the body and ideas of intimacy, community and belonging but allow for a greater depth of focus through the use of sophisticated theoretical tools or research methods, or both. For a major in Gender Studies you complete a minimum of 6 credit points of core units at 3000 level.


To proceed to fourth year honours in Gender Studies, you will need to complete at least 48 senior credit points from the Gender Studies unit of study table with an average of 70 percent or above.

It is also possible to do joint honours in Gender and Cultural Studies. Prospective students for this joint program should see the departmental website or handbook.

Contact/further information

You can find information about units of study and staff to contact for program enquiries at, or you can call the SOPHI Office on +61 2 9351 2862.