Reproductive rights and justice: Historical perspectives HIST5180

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Taught Wholly by Distance Learning: Yes

Short Description

On this course, students are introduced to theoretical concepts and historical arguments regarding reproductive rights, reproductive justice and reproductive politics. Students will gain familiarity with the ways in which, since the 19th Century and up to the present, individuals' reproductive decisions have been framed by state institutions, dominant cultures, and medical professionals, and will be introduced to societal conflicts over bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom. The course is global in its approach and is based on in-depth analysis of case studies and primary source material.


10 x 90-minute seminars 

Half-hour individual tutorial.

Discussion forum

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College Level.

Excluded Courses





Blog post  - 1,000 words in length - 25%

Essay - 3,000 words - 50%

Seminar participation - 25%

Course Aims

The course aims to:

■ Develop students' knowledge and understanding of the concepts of reproductive rights, reproductive justice, and reproductive autonomy in their social, political and cultural contexts since the 19th Century and up to the present.

■ Equip students with the skills to analyse historical sources and debate historical developments in relation to reproductive politics.

■ Hone students' skills in debating the contemporary political dimensions of reproductive, informed by historical awareness and conceptual depth.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Analyse political and social conflict in relation to individuals' procreative decisions and behaviour, in a number of historical and geographical contexts.

■ Identify broad historical changes regarding the socio-political dimensions of reproduction around the world since the 19th Century to the present.

■ Apply and contextualise key concepts such as reproductive rights, reproductive justice, biopower, and stratified reproduction.

■ Discuss the historical origins of contemporary norms, practices and conflicts relating to human procreation in the public sphere.

■ Critically analyse historical sources and what they tell us about reproductive politics in past societies.

■ Write an in-depth and scholarly presented essay on a chosen question relating to the above themes and recent scholarship.

■ Critically contextualise a chosen museum artefact in relation to above concepts and historical arguments (blog post 1)

■ Critically examine a contemporary news item relating to reproductive rights by providing historical insight (blog post 2)

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.