Women's and Gender Studies (WGST) 522

Violence against Women - A Global Perspective (Revision 1)

WGST 522 Course Cover

Delivery Mode: Individualized study (with eTextbook)

Credits: 3

Prerequisite: None

Precluded Course: WGST 522 cannot be taken if credit has already been obtained for Athabasca University's WGST 422 or WMST 422.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Program: Master of Arts Interdisciplinary Studies

**Note: Students in Group Study courses are advised that this syllabus may vary in key details in each instance of the course. Always refer to the Moodle site for the most up-to-date details on texts, assignment structure, and grading.**


Women’s and Gender Studies 522 takes the approach that violence against women is a consequence of gender inequality–a pervasive inequality that escalates and perpetuates the imbalance of power between men and women. Watts and Zimmerman (2002) had summarized the global situation by suggesting that “…women’s unequal status helps to create their vulnerability to violence, which in turn fuels the violence perpetuated against them” (p. 1232). While perpetrators are often known to their victims (e.g., husbands, boyfriends, male relatives) they may also be strangers. Violence may be the result of conscious acts to disempower women, or it may be unconsciously directed to subordinate women. Whether these horrendous acts are conscious or not, the results are similar. All women who are subjected to violence, regardless of age group, cultural and geographic background, religious affiliation, socioeconomic status, abilities, or sexual orientation, suffer harmful and often life-threatening physical and psychological consequences.

Course Objectives

The primary goal of this course is to provide students with up-to-date national and international information on the subject of violence against women. When students have successfully completed this course, they should be able to:.

  • critically discuss the concept of global human rights within the context of women’s rights and freedoms
  • identify difficulties in studying about violence against women
  • describe the extent and forms of violence against women from national and global perspectives and understand how violence and threats of violence affect women’s lives
  • identify, discuss, and critically evaluate theories that attempt to understand violence against women
  • critically evaluate the politics of violence and how violence against women is accomplished through individual and institutional acts and practices
  • demonstrate knowledge of how gender, race, sexual orientation, mental and physical ability, culture, and religion impact on women’s experience of violence
  • critically discuss the effects of development and globalization on women’s vulnerability to violence

Course Structure

Although the topics covered in this course will overlap from one section to another and from one unit to another, the course itself is divided into four discrete units. These are summarized below.

  • Unit 1 - An introduction to violence against women
  • Unit 2 - Intimate partner and sexual violence
  • Unit 3 - Exploitation
  • Unit 4 - Where will the solutions come from?

Student Evaluation

To receive credit for this course, students must participate in the online activities, successfully complete the assignments, and achieve a final mark of at least 60 percent. Students should be familiar with the Master of Arts—Interdisciplinary Studies grading system. Please note that it is students' responsibility to maintain their program status. Any student who receives a grade of "F" in one course, or a grade of "C" in more than one course, may be required to withdraw from the program.

The following table summarizes the evaluation activities and the credit weights associated with them.

Course Activity Weighting
Assignment 1 20%
Assignment 2 20%
Assignment 3 20%
Assignment 4 40%
Total 100%

Course Materials

The course materials for Women's and Gender Studies (WGST) 522 Violence against Women - A Global Perspective include the items listed below:


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

Burn, Shawn Meghan (2019). Women across Cultures: A Global Perspective, 4th Edition. NY: McGraw-Hill.

A print version of the eText may be available for purchase from the publisher through a direct-to-student link provided on the course website; you can also acquire the textbook on your own if you wish.


Monzini, Paola (2005). Sex Traffic: Prostitution, Crime and Exploitation. London & NY: Zed Books.

Sev’er, Aysan (2002). Fleeing the House of Horrors: Women Who Have Left Abusive Partners. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Athabasca University Online Materials

Course Home Page: You will find Course Information (including the Assignment File and other pertinent information) at the top of the course home page. You will also find your Study Guide presented unit by unit online. You will find your assignments and links to submit your work to your professor on the course home page.

Athabasca University Library: Students are encouraged to browse the Library's Web site to review the Library collection of journal databases, electronic journals, and digital reference tools: http://library.athabascau.ca.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 1, May 1, 2013.