University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Social Anthropology

Undergraduate Course: Anthropology of Sex and Reproduction (SCAN10068)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummarySex and reproduction are a necessity, a desire, a human compulsion. They are simultaneously private and public, as intimate acts and matters of open social concern. Sex sells, but it can be posed as indicative of larger social concerns. Political sex scandals, teenage pregnancy, designer vaginas, emergency contraceptives, and genetically engineered babies, have all provoked alarm and titillation at the failings, fears, and excitement of modernity. Human reproduction is crucial to social reproduction, as the birth of babies also produces parents, families, nations, and futures. From myths of origin to pornography, reproductive rights to the politics of motherhood, this course examines anthropological approaches to the study of sex and reproduction, asking why two aspects of life so crucial to biological existence can be seen as a desire, a danger, a choice, a risk, or even the very point of life itself. It addresses the multiple biological, political, ethical, material, and religious ways in which people engage with desire, love, and kinship.

Course description While myths of origin, kinship diagrams, and the rituals of protecting, proving, and sacrificing virginity have a long and glorious anthropological history, the intimate details of the everyday sex and reproduction they hint at have often been relegated to the periphery of anthropological subfields. All the while, the well-trodden trope ┐sex sells┐ becomes increasingly true in diverse ways. Social movements are formulated in response to sexual and reproductive injustice and inequality. Developments in science and technology illuminate and transform how people think about and act upon their own sexual and reproductive capacities. The rise of transnational travel and communications facilitates an awareness of what might otherwise be hidden. Sexual and reproductive consumers can engage in intercourse, surgery, and pharmaceuticals; sperm can be bought, wombs can be rented; and everything can be watched online. As sex and reproduction ┐ both frequently private acts of public concern ┐ are shaped in response to mass global consumerism, they also remain deeply embedded in specific social, legal, ethical, and religious contexts. This course will examine these specific forms of relatedness through an in-depth analysis of the dynamic interplay between sex, gender, and reproduction as they intersect with concepts of identity, personhood, citizenship, and morality. The course will engage students with classic and contemporary anthropological literature, and encourage them to consider how and why sex and reproduction have been approached in particular ways during specific historical periods.

Indicative Themes
- Sex and the State
- Gender and Sexuality
- Reproductive Bodies
- Dangerous Sex
- Economies of Reproduction and Sex
- Sex, Procreation, and Religion
- Reproductive Disruptions
- New Reproductive Technologies
- Knowledge, Choice, and Agency
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 Anthropology courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 80 %, Practical Exam 20 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Short mid-semester essay 20% (1,000-1,500 words)
Long end of semester essay 60% (2,500 words)
Group Presentation 10%
Group Participation 10%
Feedback Students will receive written feedback on short essay, as well as general verbal feedback in class and are encouraged to seek individual feedback
Essay writing skills for long essays will be discussed during week 9 (including a flipped element)
Time will be given in lectures to discuss and gain feedback on their plans for presentations in week 10
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Improved understanding of the links between intimate acts of sex and reproduction and the social, economic, political, and historical contexts in which they take place.
  2. Develop a critical understanding of the relationships between concepts of gender, sex and reproduction.
  3. Gain a substantive knowledge and understanding of scientific interventions in sex and reproduction, and why they are relevant to social scientists.
  4. Improved understanding of the implications of the state and human rights in relation to gender, sex, sexuality, and reproduction
  5. Develop independent research and oral presentation skills and be able to discuss anthropological theory in relation to contemporary social issues
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills be able to use collaboration and debate effectively to test, modify and strengthen their own views
make effective use of oral, written and visual means to critique, negotiate, create and communicate understanding
use communication as a tool for collaborating and relating to others
seek and value open feedback to inform genuine self-awareness
be both adaptive and proactively responsive to changing social contexts
have the confidence to make decisions based on their understandings and their personal and intellectual autonomy
transfer their knowledge, learning, skills and abilities from one context to another
understand and act on social, cultural, global and environmental responsibilities, and help others to do the same

KeywordsAnthropology; Sex; Reproduction; Gender; Sexuality;
Course organiserMs Lucy Lowe
Tel: (0131 6)51 5574
Course secretaryMiss Lauren Ayre
Tel: (0131 6)50 4001
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information
© Copyright 2015 The University of Edinburgh - 18 January 2016 4:49 am