Gender and Sexuality in Post-1945 Britain

The details
Philosophical, Historical, and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Monday 13 January 2025
Friday 21 March 2025
10 April 2024


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

We live in a world where gender and sexuality are hotly debated. But ideas and experiences of gender and sexuality have been in flux for much longer than the present moment. This module examines the relations between gender and selfhood in post-1945 Britain.

Following Joan Scott, gender is viewed as both ‘a constituent element of social relationships’ and ‘a primary way of signifying relationships of power'. We therefore look at gender and sexuality in relation to power, and take an intersectional approach that examines gender in relation to other aspects of identity including ‘race’, class, age, and embodiment.  The module considers the (sexed) body as a site of struggle and freedom. Finally, it explores the thoughts and feelings of marginalised groups as active agents of history rather than as passive victims.

Module aims

The aims of this module are: 

  • Analyse key events in the history of post-1945 Britain that illuminate gender and sexuality.

  • Discuss with reference to modern historical scholarship selected topics in the history of gender and sexuality in modern Britain.

  • Critically evaluate the interrelation of political, social, cultural, and technological change in determining different experiences of gender and sexuality and the limits of individual and collective agency.

  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the potentialities and problems of different kinds of evidence for understanding experiences of gender and sexuality.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a broad and systematic knowledge of the history of gender and sexuality in post-1945 Britain.

  2. Express their ideas on and assessments of the social and cultural importance of gender and sexuality in post-1945 Britain.

  3. Identify strengths, weaknesses, problems, and/or peculiarities of alternative historical/ historiographical interpretations.

  4. Demonstrate an awareness of a range of relevant primary sources and an appreciation of how historians have approached them.

  5. Marshal primary and secondary sources into an independent historical argument.

Module information

The outline of lecture topics is provided below. Each lecture is accompanied by a seminar that explores the topic in greater depth, most often based around specific primary sources and/or historical debates.

  1. Introduction: Gender & Sexuality in Post-1945 Britain

  2. The family in postwar Britain

  3. Permissiveness & the Pill

  4. The (re)invention of heterosexuality

  5. Women’s Liberation Movement

  6. Queer identities from Wolfenden to the Gay Liberation Front

  7. Sex education

  8. LGBTQ+ families

  9. Trans identities

  10. Conclusion

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • One lecture per week.
  • One seminar per week.

Lectures will provide an overview of key topics, and seminars will provide an opportunity to discuss key themes, approaches, and debates in more depth, including critical analysis of different kinds of source material. All Module information will be available via Moodle.  Key readings will be digitised an available on Talis Aspire.

The lectures and seminars will make use of audio, visual, and audio-visual material where appropriate. Seminars will be structured so that students take the lead in discussion. Throughout, the module will introduce different forms of historical source material so that students have the opportunity to work on materials that suit their interests and expertise, while developing new skills.

This approach will ensure that diverse groups of students will be supported to learn to the best of their abilities, to excel in areas of existing strength, and to further develop skills in areas where this is required.



Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Source Analysis (1000 words)    30% 
Coursework   Essay (2000 words)    70% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Tracey Loughran, email:
History UG Administrators:



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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