Sex and Religion in Britain, Ireland and North America 1945-1980 HIST4216

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course focuses on the concept and reality of the sexual revolutions of the post war decades in USA, Canada, Ireland and UK, and the significance of religion to change. It looks at how historians have very differently conceived the nature of the sexual revolution and the place of both liberal and conservative Christianity in respectively fomenting or restraining the nature and place of sexual relations in the lives of the people.


Two one-hour sessions per week as scheduled on MyCampus. This is one of the Honours options in History and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into History, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes.

Excluded Courses





Coursework: One 2,000 word essay (25%)

Coursework: One seminar presentation of 10 minutes accompanied by PowerPoint or Handout (15%)

Examination - 120 minutes duration (60%)

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course will provide the opportunity to:


■ prepare students for independent and original analysis of a complex range of evidence, including source materials, thereby developing intellectual skills that will be of benefit in a wide range of careers.

Students' research capacity will be enriched by their introduction to diverse source materials and their oral and written communication skills enhanced in ways designed to address employers' expectations for highly literate and highly articulate graduates who are fully cognisant of a range of research tools.


■ show students how a professional historian works.

By supporting students in the production of their essay and seminar presentation, students will gain first hand experience of the scoping and shaping of research projects and the challenges faced by historians in the pursuit of advances in knowledge.


■ familiarise students, through source-criticism, with a wide-range of problems of interpretation arising from different usages of language, underlying meanings and intentions, differing standards of objectivity, and the variety of purpose and intent associated with historical evidence (written, visual or other).

The critical interpretation of key historiographical and theoretical debates relating to this subject will inform the close reading of sources. Provenance, perspective, context, intent and audience will be core considerations in students' interpretation of sources.


■ ensure, through student-led discussion, that the relative validity of alternative historical interpretations is fully recognised. The seminars aim to encourage student-led learning and the facilitation of rigorous and informed debate.


■ encourage students to develop imagination, skills and self-discipline required to master a similarly demanding brief in the future, whether in historical research or in any sphere or employment where these qualities are valuable.

Students will be encouraged to reflect on the range of generic research and communication skills they are developing over the course of this course in order to align their academic and professional aspirations and competencies and encourage reflective practice.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


■ Demonstrate an overall grasp of the relationship between sexual change and religious change in the period.

■ Demonstrate an understanding of transnational comparison in the timing, extent and impact of change in sexualities, sexual behaviour, popular religiosity and the relationship of religion to the state.

■ Show an understanding of different historiographical traditions relating to this topic.

■ Demonstrate a knowledge of the different national traditions in relation to the place of religion in people's life.

■ Demonstrate an ability to describe, measure and analyse sexuality, sexual activity and attitudes to these, including some familiarity with appropriate statistical methods.

■ Show an awareness of the changing contribution of religion and sexual behaviour to popular culture, political life and individual identities between the 1940s and 1980.

■ Demonstrate the ability to present relevant analysis in unambiguous, concise and effective prose, incorporating a range of substantiating evidence in essays, seminar papers, and a written exam.

■ Demonstrate the ability to lead and participate in seminar discussions devoted to selected primary and secondary sources, and in delivering analysis clearly and effectively in oral presentations and in group discussion.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.