Gender and International Relations

Course content

This course analyzes the place of gender in world politics. It introduces students to theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of gender in International Relations, and reviews different fields of research, focusing on security studies, with cutting-edge literature. We examine how both the practice of international politics, and the academic discipline are gendered.


The course takes its starting point by reflecting on International Relations theory to understand why the mainstream of International Relations has traditionally had difficulties in engaging with feminist critiques. We will look at the early feminist debates and turn to themes of International Relations such as war, conflict, militarism and security through a gender perspective.


We analyze the role of bodies in International Relations and their complex intersecting identities to understand how gender is intertwined with categories such as race, class and sexuality. The question of how these complex identities give subjects possibility for agency runs throughout the modules. The course emphasizes how gender, security and politics are discursively constructed through both language and images. To shed light on these discursive constructions we conduct several case studies.


Students will learn why and how gender matters in the conduct and study of world politics. They will leave the course with a better understanding of how the underlying power structures of gender and intersecting factors sit at the very core of International Relations.


Students will acquire the relevant methods to become feminist researchers. They will be particularly well equipped to apply discourse analysis to the field of security studies and its interactions with the larger fields of International Relations and Political Science.


MSc in Political Science

MSc in Social Science

MSc in Security Risk Management

Bachelor in Political Science

Learning outcome


On completion of the course, students will be able to

  • Look at world politics through a gender lens.
  • Comprehend how both the practice of world politics and the discipline of International Relations are gendered.
  • Describe research problems, theoretical approaches and methods in the field of gender and International Relations



On completion of the course, students will be able to

  • Distinguish between types of feminisms and apply theoretical approaches to debates in International Relations and events in world politics.
  • Analyze media texts, policy speech and government policy documents using a gender lens.
  • Critically examine gendered constructions in world politics



  • Teamwork: Contribute to a common learning environment in class. Collaborate with colleagues working on gender from other academic disciplines.
  • Critical thinking: Understand power structures underlying global politics.
  • Knowledge transfer: Apply knowledge on gender to diverse working environments, such as in governmental and international organizations working on gender, or NGOs advocating for global gender justice.
  • Self-learning and analytical writing.

Classes will be split into two parts: The first part consists of a lecture; in the second part we will split up into smaller groups to discuss the assigned readings for the week.

For a fruitful in class discussion, it is essential that students come prepared to class and have done the readings. Please prepare some written points for discussion before each class for the group discussions. This will allow you to share ideas and engage in critical discussions with one another.

Indicative readings:


Ackerly, Brooke A., Maria Stern, and Jacqui True, eds. 2006. Feminist Methodologies for International Relations. 1st ed. Cambridge, UK ; New York: Cambridge University Press.


Enloe, Cynthia H. 2014. Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics. Second edition, Completely Revised and Updated. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.


Parpart, Jane L., and Marysia Zalewski, eds. 2008. Rethinking the Man Question: Sex, Gender and Violence in International Relations. London ; New York : New York: Zed Books ; Distributed in the USA by Palgrave Macmillan.


Parpart, Jane L., and Swati Parashar, eds. 2019. Rethinking Silence, Voice, and Agency in Contested Gendered Terrains. London ; New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.


Shepherd, Laura J., ed. 2010. Gender Matters in Global Politics: A Feminist Introduction to International Relations. New York: Routledge.


Sjoberg, Laura, ed. 2010. Gender and International Security: Feminist Perspectives. London ; New York: Routledge.


Steans, Jill, and Daniela Tepe, eds. 2016. Handbook on Gender in World Politics. Cheltenham, UK ; Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing.


Weber, Cynthia. 2016. Queer International Relations: Sovereignty, Sexuality and the Will to Knowledge. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.


The full reading list will be made available on Absalon.

Previous knowledge of constructivist and poststructuralist IR and feminist theory is beneficial for students to follow the course.

For an introduction to IR, including feminism and gender, see:

Baylis, John, Steve Smith, and Patricia Owens, eds. The Globalization of World Politics. 8th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019.

Continuous feedback during the course
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination
Type of assessment details
Free written assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • English
  • 28


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 semester

Department of Political Science, Study Council
Contracting department
  • Department of Political Science
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinator
  • Matthias Humer   (3-7c83774f7875823d7a843d737a)
Saved on the 31-10-2022

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