Course outline

At the start of the twentieth century few women could vote and in many countries had the
legal status of children. By the end of the century equality had, in theory, been achieved
throughout most of the world and women could be and were world leaders. This course will
look at women in politics in a global context, at their substantial achievements and effect
upon politics as well as at areas of regression.

The course will examine the reasons for and the effects of the political involvement of women
by examining four areas of controversy. First, the Suffrage movements will be examined with
international comparisons and a detailed look at the extraordinarily violent British campaign.
How effective were they? Second, the role of women in the major total wars of the twentieth
century will be studied. Did their mass participation lead to long-lasting changes in status or
were the victories short-lived or have other causes.

The effects upon women of the mass radicalised participation and strident ideologies of
Nationalist, Fascist and Communist regimes will be the third area of study. Did any of these
regimes genuinely improve the lives of women? What were the results of their
experimentation? Lastly, the course will consider the position of women in post-war
international politics and ask why certain countries and geographical areas, such as
Scandinavia, have had much more success in female participation than others. Individual
female leaders will be studied to see if any common factors that cross cultures can be

1. INTRODUCTION: Women’s suffrage and political rights in the Nineteenth century

Twentieth Century Suffrage
2. Female Guerrillas? -The British women’s suffrage campaign
3. A hopeless case? – Women in France
4. The contradictions of a federal system – the American experience

Women In War
5. The legacy of Florence Nightingale – the ‘womanly’ face of war
6. The First World War – a test for citizenship?
7. The Second World War – total conflict and combatant women
8. Women and the century’s civil wars – benefiting from chaos?

Women, Ideology and Political Regimes.
9. Nationalism – mass politics and citizenship
10. Fascism – equal but different?
11. Communism – the promised land attained?
12. Post-war regimes – learning from history?

States and Statecraft
13. Women as leaders – ‘Honorary Men’ or consensus politicians?
14. States, Culture and Geography – the factors that affect female participation
15. Case study – e.g. Margaret Thatcher
16. Conclusions: A lasting and genuine impact?



  • To demonstrate, orally and in written form, a knowledge and understanding of the
    ideologies of the dictators
  • To read widely and critically
  • To develop, sustain and illustrate an argument
  • To complete a weekly assignment

Assessment process

All students must fulfil formal assessment requirements. These consist of:

Weekly class assignments (60%)
These will normally take the form of essays or documentary analysis. The completed work
will be examined and discussed with the tutor in weekly individual tutorials.

Class participation (40%)
Students are required to attend all group and individual sessions and will be expected to
participate fully in all class activities and discussions. Where appropriate this will also
involve preparatory reading of recommended texts.


Assessment Criteria

Grade A
Student understands broad range of ideological concepts, has excellent
understanding of their impact in relation to given historical situations, and shows excellent communication skills in constructing an original and persuasive argument, with reference to a broad range of evidence.
Grade B
Student understands core ideological concepts clearly, has advanced
understanding of their impact in relation to given historical situations, and can construct a sound argument to reflect that with persuasive use of evidence.
Grade C
Student understands core ideological concepts, has clear understanding of their impact in relation to given historical situations, and can construct an argument to reflect that knowledge accurately, with reference to a range of evidence.
Grade D
Student understands basic ideological concepts, has some understanding of their impact in relation to given historical situations, and some ability to communicate that information both orally and in written form.
Fail None of the criteria listed above followed.

Recommended reading

The list below is for guidance and to supply some ideas for preliminary reading. We recommend that you do not purchase the books on this list before arrival and certainly not all of them; most should be available from a good library. Your tutor will recommend the most
appropriate books for purchase at the first class of term.

Margaret Walters, Feminism: A very short introduction
Martin Pugh, The Pankhursts
Martin Pugh, Women and the Women’s Movement 1914-1959
Margaret Higgonet and Jane Jenson, eds., Behind the Lines: Gender and the Two World Wars
Joshua Goldstein, War and Gender
Simon Henig, Women and Political Power: Europe since 1945
Katherine Frank, Indira: The life of Indira Nehru Gandhi
Jonathan Aitken, Margaret Thatcher: Power and Personality
Mark Peel, Shirley Williams: The Biography

Additional notes

You can take this subject as a core as or as an elective module.