Course Syllabus

Prostitution and the Sex Trade 

Semester & Location:

Summer 19 - CPH

Type & Credits:

Core/Elective Course - 3 credits

Major Disciplines:

Gender Studies, Public Policy & Sociology

Faculty Members: Ane Krestine Ott,
Program Director:

Iben de Neergaard, 

Time & Place: N7-B13
Study Tour: Amsterdam 

Course Introduction

This course will provide you with an understanding of prostitution as a phenomenon related to gender, sexuality, policy and migration. We will explore the notion of prostitution from a historical, political, legal, sociological and societal perspective. You will gain insight into the status of prostitution in Europe in comparison to the US, while the main focus will be on Denmark, Sweden and Holland. Though selling sex is legal in all these three countries, they each represent different policies towards prostitution and thus provide a useful framework for the understanding of how prostitution, gender norms and social hierarchies are shaped throughout Europe by means of law, policies and public debate.

We will explore questions such as: What are the causes and consequences of prostitution? Is prostitution work or violence? Why is it a state matter to determine how individuals use their bodies? Who are the costumers buying sex? How is global inequality affecting the sex trade? How does prostitution relate to gender norms? What is the value of the various legal frameworks represented in Europe? Should prostitution be legal or illegal? Why? What are the consequences – financially, emotionally, and socially – of prostitution?

The aim of the course is to approach prostitution from various points of view and gain insights into the lives of prostitutes and the professionals working with them. You will meet activists, NGO’s and sex workers in order to broaden our perception and understanding of the complexity of prostitution. The course includes a study tour to Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The course aims to give students an understanding of prostitution as a complex sociological and legal phenomenon. By exploring different conceptualizations of the sex trade (as a social problem, a gender issue etc.), you should comprehend how discourse, norms and values shape our perception of prostitution and prostitutes. While the course does not seek to promote certain views on sex trade, it does aim at making you understand what your personal opinions are shaped by in order to ensure a critical approach to all perspectives on prostitution. Throughout the course special emphasis will be given to developing an understanding of the sex trade in Denmark, Holland and Sweden and how this  industry is affected by globalization and migration.


Ane Krestine Ott, BA and MA in Communication Studies from Roskilde University (2013) and MA in Human Rights and Democratization from European Inter-University Centre (2012). Ane has been involved with the implementation and evaluation of Danish prostitution policy at the Danish National Center for Social Research (SFI) and has done research on the representation of prostitution and prostitutes in Danish media and policy. Besides a full-time faculty position at DIS, Ane works as a counselor at Sex & Samfund (The Danish Family Planning Association), focusing on sexual health as well as at RedenUng, a hotline for people selling sex and experiencing sexual abuse. Moreover, Ane is connected to Amnesty International as a human rights educator.        


Teaching Methods and Evaluation

The course is taught as a combination of lectures and interactive methods such as group work, debates, films, field studies and guest lecturers whose work is directly linked to prostitution (both pro and con-side) as well as anti-trafficking work. You are expected to actively participate and contribute to your own and your class mates’ learning process and experience.



Please note the class is discussion-based and it is very important we all contribute to creating and maintaining a safe space throughout the semester. Your peers will come from a variety of backgrounds which we seek at using as an added value – be open, curious and respectful during your own and other’s learning process. Remember to challenge ideas, not people.       

Evaluation of your work during the course will be based on the following components, with the relative weight:





Percentage of final grade



Class participation: Attendance, preparation, and your active participation.


30 %




Podcast Assignment 


 30 %



 Wednesday June 26




25 % 


 Monday July 1


Reading Questions  


15 %


  During class

Class Participation

The evaluation of this component will take into consideration the following aspects:

Attendance: attendance in all classes and field studies is mandatory. See academic handbook for further information. You are urged to be punctual, particularly where guest lecturers and/or films are concerned.

Preparation: preparation for each lecture is a course requirement. See reading list included in this syllabus. Please be aware that there may be slight changes in the reading assignments during the course and various handouts will also be distributed, but you will be provided with ample time to properly prepare.

Participation: active participation in all class sessions is required, and forms an important part of your grade for this component. Participation should preferably reflect your critical capacities and knowledge of the course material (see ”preparation” above).

The aim should be to contribute constructively to forwarding meaningful, relevant dialogue and discussion among the group; in practice, this means that expression of one's personal views should be backed up by references to pertinent readings, materials, etc. and that other viewpoints should be considered in a respectful manner.

The course heavily emphasizes your own engagement and active participation. Much of the learning in this course is dependent on how much effort you put into your own explorations and research, not least in connection with the different assignments.

Podcast Assignment 

You will be divided into groups and create a podcast where you explore a theme related to our study tour and course. More information will be provided in class. 

Reading Questions

Each podcast group will have one day of the course where they are responsible for posting reading questions on canvas for each of our readings. You questions should demonstrate your ability to analyze main points of the readings as well as enable you to contextualize our readings in relation to the course. We will use these to discuss the texts. 

Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:

Computers and phones are NOT allowed in class unless specifically agreed with Ane.


Obligatory readings are listed below. Further obligatory and optional readings (in limited quantity) may be distributed periodically during the course, always in good time to allow you to prepare.

Every effort has been made to distribute the reading load reasonably equally throughout the semester.


Class will take place from 10:00 – 13:00. Please note that we have a field trip to Sweden on June 25 which will be an all-day event – more information will be provided in class. 

Course Summary:

Date Details