Gender Studies


The GS programme was established in 2010, reflecting the University’s commitment to enhancing gender in research, learning and teaching. Housed under the School of Social Sciences, the programme has close affiliation with Sociology, History, Psychology and Social Work as well as the School of Government, Development and International Affairs and the School of Education.  As one of the few trans-disciplinary programmes at USP, Gender Studies aims to continue to liaise with other Schools through research and teaching. It also aims to engage with other sectors of the University to promote gender equality and reinforce gender sensitivity at USP. Engagement with civil society is an important feature of the programme. Gender Studies is committed to build sustained collaborations with Pacific island governments, international, regional and civil society organisations on gender-responsive research and policy.

The programme offers courses at the postgraduate level only. Interested students can apply to study for the Postgraduate Certificate of Arts in Gender Studies which consists of two courses: GN400: Contemporary Feminism, Theory, Methods and Debates, and GN401: Gender, Global Change and Development in a Comparative Perspective. Both units are offered Semester I and II.  Plans are underway to offer the Postgraduate Diploma in Gender Studies in 2021.


Why study Gender?

The Gender perspective is increasingly recognized in the Pacific island region as a key framework to approach social and economic well-being, and political development. In this regard, Gender Studies can:

  • help enhance students’ knowledge and appreciation of the equal value of women’s and men’s contribution to society’s well-being
  • assist students to appreciate the contribution of other gender groups to societal development
  • equip students with gender-related approaches and tools for researching and analyzing gender inequalities in society
  • enhance confidence to critique and advocate against gender inequalities
  • arm students with the skills to successfully handle gender-related controversies in future  employment
  • prepare students for future employment possibilities in any sector: government, non-government, social services, community development, science or finance sector



This course introduces students to the theories and methods that characterize feminist research in various disciplines. It also considers how such research engages with contemporary debates on feminism. Taking a trans-disciplinary approach, the course draws from the work of feminist scholars mainly across the social sciences. Students will learn about how and why the concept of ‘gender’ is central to feminist analysis. They will also learn about the various strands of feminism and their respective research approaches. While many of the theories and debates originate from outside the Pacific, students are encouraged to critique and adapt them to their own contexts and research.


This course examines the gender perspective in development, illustrating the central role of gender equality in development, and how development in turn impacts on the understanding of gender as well as on gender roles and relations. It introduces students to the historical development of gender and development, with particular attention to key analytical concepts, theories and debates involved. The course aims to provide a better understanding and appreciation of women as a key component of development. It equally aims to familiarise students with a critical approach to men and masculinities within development, and provide an understanding of LGBTQI+ issues. Many examples are drawn from the Pacific. Students are encouraged to engage in scholarly critique of conventional theories of development as well as their alternatives.


This course will provide a forum for the critical examination and understanding of the way the category of gender plays out in environmental issues, with a focus on the Pacific Island Countries. It will explore how the environment shapes gender roles, norms and relations, and how these in turn affect the use, management and conservation of its resources, as well as social responses to climate change. It will consider how gender inequalities and issues of women’s empowerment shine through, examine ecofeminist theory, and highlight the relationship between gender justice and environmental justice. The course will teach students to apply a gender lens in the analysis of environment-related issues in the region. Active student participation will be required on all components of coursework.

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