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Sex in Science (HPSC20023)

Undergraduate level 2Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2018
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 2
Subject codeHPSC20023
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Biological sex is both fundamental to reproduction and, in humans, the basis of the primary social category of gender, making it both an important and politically charged variable in scientific research across the biological and social sciences. In this subject, students will explore fundamental and controversial questions at the intersection of sex and science, and consider their wider social implications, as well as for science. The subject will tackle questions including:

  • What is biological sex? Is it stable, fixed and binary?
  • How do cultural assumptions about sex influence scientific questions, methods, analysis and interpretation: from genetics and endocrinology to neuroscience and evolutionary science?
  • What does science tell us about how to think about the relations between sex and gender? What are the social and political implications of different accounts?
  • What is the impact of scientific claims about sex in society? What should they be?

Students will encounter varied disciplinary perspectives on sex, and critically examine both academic and popular resources.

Intended learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject students will:

  • Be able to locate contemporary gender debates in a scientific context.
  • Begin to develop an understanding of the empirical, methodological, epistemological, and social and cultural foundations of controversies in science and scientific practice.
  • Begin to develop an understanding of the role of socio-political values in science.
  • Acquire skills in clear, coherent and persuasive written presentation.

Last updated: 12 December 2018