Gender Studies at UCT (AXL)

Why Study GS?

ATTENTION 2016 Gender Studies Students

The venue information for Gender Studies second semester courses is now available. Please click HERE. Should you need any clarifications, please contact the Gender Studies Academic Programme Administrator, Wardah Daniels (

What is Gender/Women's Studies?

Everybody's talking gender. Music videos pump images of fantastic or familiar masculinity and femininity through the airwaves; national and international politicians debate the meaning of racial and gender equality; religious communities explore new - and traditional - ideas about men and women; in taxis, cafés, shebeens, corners and kitchens, friends pour over the microdynamics of gendered sexuality and communication: what did he mean when he said that? is she a real woman?

Within the Faculty of Humanities, a subject named Gender/Women's Studies offers the opportunity to explore the informal kaleidoscope of issues concerning gender, culture, and sexuality within a formal academic framework. Core courses include the following fields of study:

  • What does gender mean in Africa and elsewhere?
  • The impact of economic and political development on men and women
  • Feminist Theories and women's movements in the context of global social movements
  • Doing research in the politics of gendered knowledge

Why study Gender/Women's Studies?

Gender/Women's Studies explores the power of gender dynamics within multiple fields of social relevance. Research and scholarship about gender is often embedded within ideas about class, race, and history, so working with a gender lens can illuminate knowledge in a new, multi-faceted way. If, for example, most economists evaluate a country's wealth through measuring the value of what that country produces as goods, economists who take gender seriously will also explore the value of what gets created through reproductive labour, the work many women do taking care of children, the home space, and the elderly. This approach changes the whole orientation to the study of economics. Another example: in media analysis, taking gender seriously will both allow in-depth understanding of how (for example) the news gets created, and look at what that news may mean for different constituencies, in different places. Gender Studies is internationally recognised as a field which makes connections, opens doors and challenges familiar ideas. In African contexts, interest in Gender/Women's Studies is booming, as a result of wide continental recognition that issues of masculinity, femininity/womanhood, and sexuality are relevant to all our concerns about independence, freedom from conflict, and the development of deep democracy. Within Africa, there are complex and exciting conversations about gender, and these are continually interacting with global interests in human rights and with diverse political struggles to imagine and create just societies. In the Faculty of Humanities, Gender/Women's Studies has a particular focus on African contexts, and links this focus to an international field of research on gender issues.

What can I do with Gender/Women's Studies?

There are three possible pathways:

  • A major in Gender/Women's Studies can be combined with another major (such as Psychology, Law, Development Studies, or Film and Media) so that professional development as a psychologist, lawyer, development practitioner, or media worker is strengthened by a particular expertise in gender analysis. This is often very useful in a world where knowledge of gender works well in combination with other professional skills.
  • A major in Gender/Women's Studies is very useful if you are planning to move into international, or national, development work. In the past, Gender/Women's Studies majors have spent a postgraduate year in management studies and then gone on to careers in research institutions and NGO and development arenas.
  • It is possible to pursue postgraduate studies, both nationally and internationally, in Gender/Women's Studies. Such studies can lead to careers in research, academic teaching and scholarship, politics, and NGO work throughout the world. Gender/Women's Studies postgraduates from the Faculty of Humanities have found jobs with the Commission on Gender Equality and the Department of Trade and Industry in South Africa, with NGO's in the UK and the USA., with higher education institutions in Botswana and Rwanda, and with a wide range of organizations in Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Kenya.

Requirements for a major in Gender Studies (AXL01)

First year
AXL 1100S Understanding Gender (was AGI1000S)

Second year
AXL 2100F Gender, Sexuality and Politics (was AGI2002F)

ONE of the following:
AXL 2101S Gender and Development (was AGI2001S)
HST2035S Gender and History *
REL2047F Gender, Sexuality and Religion *
AXL2402S Anthropology of Power and Wealth * (was SAN2015S)
AXL2401F Medical Anthropology * (was SAN2026F)
SOC2004S Class, Race and Gender *

Third year
AXL 3100F Theories, Politics and Action (was AGI3000F)
AXL 3101S Politics of Gendered Knowledge (was AGI3001S)

*See entries under Departments of Historical Studies, Religious Studies, Sociology and Anthroplogy Section for descriptions of HST2035S, REL2047F, AXL2402S (was SAN2015S), AXL2401F (was SAN2026F), and SOC2004S. If any of these courses is taken as part of the requirements for a Major in Gender Studies, the course may not be credited as part of a Major in Religious Studies, Anthropology, Historical Studies, or Sociology.


  1. For AXL1100S (was AGI1000S): None.
  2. For AXL2100F (was AGI2002F): AXL1100S (was AGI1000S) recommended; students who have completed at least 4 full courses (or the equivalent) at the 1000 level are admitted.
  3. For AXL2101S (was AGI2001S): AXL2100F (was AGI2002F) or second-year status
  4. For AXL3100F (was AGI3000F): AXL2100F (was AGI2002F), and one other course in list of electives in second year above, or permission of the course convener
  5. For AXL3101S (was AGI3001S): AXL3100F (was AGI3000F), or permission of the course convene

Useful Links

Information for international students

Link for accomodation

UCT Humanities Undergraduate Handbook (2014)

UCT Handbooks (2014)

Please click HERE for information on the Postgraduate Programme.