Gender and Power in Contemporary Politics

Undergraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

This course examines the role gender plays in politics and policy formation. Special attention is given to two strands of research that from different angles studies the intersection of gender and politics. The first strand studies gender as politics and explores how and why questions related to bodies, sexualities and identities are some of the most contentious issues in contemporary politics. The second strand studies gender in politics and address the causes and consequences of gender inequalities in political and bureaucratic institutions. By combining perspectives from these two strands of research the course explores how gender affects political behavior and power, including political socialization, political attitudes, and public policy creation and implementation in different countries. Time will be spent on understanding and discussing different debates on gender, such as the #MeToo movement, transgender rights, equal pay, paternity leave, abortion rights, gender quotas and tokenism, but also draw attention to how gender perspectives are relevant for policy making and implementation in a wide diversity of policy areas.  This course has three goals.
  1. The first goal is for you to learn about different conceptualizations of gender and familiarize yourself with different analytical tools used to study the relationship between gender and politics. Over the last decades there has been an explosion of gender studies in political science and public administration, and we will spend time examining and critiquing established theories and the empirical evidence supporting them.
  2. The second goal of the course is for you to develop an understanding of the role that gender has in the distribution of political power. To accomplish this goal, we study gender differences in political institutions, such as political parties, elected political offices, and in bureaucratic institutions, with a special attention to how gender norms and informal institutions affect opportunities and impact.
  3. A third goal is to explore whether gender matters for policy making and implementation. Careful attention will be paid to theories and evidence that expect women to do politics and leadership different from men, both in style, behavior, competency, and areas of attention, and you will get an overview over both literature that support such claims and studies demonstrating more nuanced perspectives on how gender impacts policy processes.   

Learning Outcomes

A student who has completed the course should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student

  • has knowledge about the literature on gender perspectives in policy making and representation.
  • has knowledge about how socialization, norms and informal institutions have gendered consequences and contribute to political inequalities  
  • can give an overview over different strands of research in the gender and politics literature
  • can give an account of the historical development of studying gender and politics


The student

  • have some training in presenting critical analysis of relevant literature
  • can discuss and assess the strengths and shortcomings of different analytical frameworks used to study gender and politics
  • understand relevant concepts and theories
  • know that gender inequalities vary across countries

General competence

The student

  • can use the skills required in this topic on new areas and topics
  • can examine, debate, and provide critique of theories and concepts
  • understand what is meant by a "gender perspective"

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Semester of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
Recommended Previous Knowledge
  • AORG101GOV101
  • AORG104/GOV104
  • AORG103/AORG107/AORG109 / GOV103/GOV107/GOV109
  • Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
  • AORG217 (10 ECTS)
  • Access to the Course
    Open to all students at the University of Bergen.
    Teaching and learning methods
    8 lectures and 2 seminars 
    Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

    One compulsory group presentation in the seminar on a given topic. 

    The compulsory assignment must be approved in order to take the exam. Approved compulsory assignments are valid in the current and following two semesters.

    Forms of Assessment

    3 days take home exam, 3000 words (+/- 10%), excluding the title page, table of contents, references, tables, and attachments)

    The exam will be given in the language in which the course is taught.

    The exam answer can be submitted in English, Norwegian, Swedish or Danish.

    Grading Scale
    Grading A-F.
    Assessment Semester

    Assessment in in teaching semester.

    A retake exam is arranged for students with valid absence according to § 5-5 in the UiB regulations.

    If there is a retake exam, this will be available for students with the follow results/absences:

    • Medical certificate/valid absence
    • Interruption during the exam
    • Fail/failed

    If you have the right to take a retake exam and a retake exam is arranged for students with valid absences, you can sign up yourself in Studentweb after 1. august.

    Reading List
    The reading list for the spring semester will be ready before 1 December.
    Course Evaluation
    All courses are evaluated according to UiB's system for quality assurance of education.
    Programme Committee
    The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses. 
    Course Administrator
    Department of Government at the Faculty of Social Sciences has the administrative responsibility for the course and the study programme.