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2020/21 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

THEO3286 God, Sex and Gender in Africa

20 creditsClass Size: 45

Module manager: Adriaan van Klinken

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2020/21

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Feminism, women’s rights, homosexuality: they have all been called un-African and un-Christian. This module critically explores the religious backgrounds and politics of these and other controversies about issues of gender and sexuality in modern Africa. Putting contemporary debates in historical, social and political contexts, it focuses on Christianity but also takes into account African traditional religions and Islam. The module discusses a range of issues such as the position of women, gender equality, men and masculinities, the regulation of sexuality, gay rights and sexual diversity. It will be of interest to students from a range of disciplinary backgrounds including theology and religious studies, sociology, geography, politics and international relations, history and literary/cultural studies.


Through this module students
- are introduced to contemporary academic and public debates about dynamics of religion, gender and sexuality in sub-Saharan Africa;
- gain background knowledge that helps to understand these debates in their historical, socio-cultural and political contexts;
- become familiar with relevant analytical and theoretical insights that enable them to critically analyse and reflect upon these debates, including primary material.

Learning outcomes
After completing this module, students
- can identify the key issues related to religion, gender and sexuality in contemporary African societies that are central in academic and public debates;
- understand these issues in their historical, socio-cultural and political contexts and as part of broader religious and social dynamics;
- can employ and evaluate relevant analytical and theoretical frames to approach issues of religion, gender and sexuality in Africa;
- are able to collect, analyse and discuss primary data relating to issues of religion, gender and sexuality in Africa with reference to relevant academic literature.

Skills outcomes
Students will develop the following skills:
- understand and demonstrate coherent and detailed subject knowledge and academic competencies some of which will be informed by recent research/scholarship in the discipline;
- deploy accurately standard techniques of analysis and enquiry within the discipline;
- demonstrate a conceptual understanding which enables the development and sustaining of an argument;
- be able to identify and select relevant scholarly reviews and primary sources, using IT and other means, and make appropriate use of them;
- show appreciation of the complexity of different mentalities, social behaviours and aesthetic responses, and of the ways they have been shaped by beliefs and values, and how beliefs, sacred texts and art forms have been shaped by society and politics;
- synthesise material from disparate sources and make connections between different fields of study;
- show a developed ability to evaluate material, against consciously articulated and considered criteria that may be defended against alternative possibilities;
- form a coherent and integrated viewpoint or methodological approach, supported by evidence and argument;
- employ a variety of methods of study in analysing material, to think independently, set tasks and solve problems;
- give a clear and accurate account of a subject, marshal arguments in a mature way and engage in debate and dialogue with respect for the opposite case or different viewpoint;
- acquire knowledge of primary texts from a variety of traditions and disciplines and, where appropriate and desired, linguistic and text-critical skills.


With regard to analytical and theoretical perspectives to approach issues of religion, gender and sexuality in Africa, this module will engage with African feminist theologies, cultural anthropology/social sciences, and postcolonial and queer studies.
The religious traditions that are covered are African traditional religions, Islam and Christianity. The focus is on the contemporary period though historical context will be provided.
Issues that will be explored are: women’s rights, gender equality, men and masculinities, sexuality, HIV/AIDS and homosexuality.

A provisional outline of the module is:

1. Religion, gender and sexuality in Africa: Theoretical perspectives
2. Gender in African Traditional Religions
3. Women, colonialism and missionary Christianity
4. Religion, men and masculinities
5. Religion and the politics of gender equality
6. The Pentecostal gender paradox
7. Religion and ‘African sexuality’
8. AIDS and the moralisation of sex
9. Homosexuality un-African?
10. Public religion and homosexuality

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours175.00
Total Contact hours25.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Time reserved for independent learning will be used by students to prepare for the weekly lectures and seminars, and to work on the assignments.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress is monitored through the seminars and tutorials.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x max 3000 word essay60.00
Literature Review1 x max 2000 word book review40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/01/2021 13:19:54


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