Course Syllabus


Welcome to our summer course  DIS Logo


Semester & Location:

Summer 2023 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:


Study Tour:

Amsterdam from June 19 to June 23

Major Disciplines:

Gender Studies, Public Policy, Sociology

Faculty Members:

Teresa Bengtsson -

Time & Place:

 Note that we will have different meeting times every day and that we may meet in different classrooms. 

Classroom(s): V23-400 & N7-B12

Course Description

This course is about prostitution as it relates to gender, sexuality, policy, gender norms and migration. We study the sex trade with a special focus on Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands as sex work is legal in all three countries but each country's approach is quite different.

We will explore questions such as: What are the causes and consequences of prostitution and sex work more broadly? Is prostitution work or exploitation and violence? Why is it a state matter to determine how consenting adults use their bodies? Who are the customers paying for sex? How is global inequality affecting the sex trade? How does sex work relate to gender norms? Should prostitution be legal, illegal or decriminalized? Why? What are the consequences - financially, emotionally, and socially - of sex work? We will also consider questions like: What is sex work? Is sugar dating, OnlyFan or camming a type of prostitution? Does (some types of) marriage contain elements of an exchange for sex - and is that a form of sex work? 

The aim of the course is to approach prostitution from various points of view and gain insights into the lives of sex workers and the professionals working with them. You will meet activists, NGOs and sex workers in order to broaden our perception and understanding of the complexity of prostitution and you will be introduced to aspects of sex work - porn production, visit to a brothel, etc. - that link our readings to the lived world.

Important concepts we will discuss: consent, agency, erotic capital, stigma and the "whorearchy".

Learning Objectives

  • To get an understanding of prostitution and sex work as complex sociological and legal phenomenons and how they are related to more "mainstream" relations (like love relations or more casual relations), norms and values.
  • To understand how discourse, norms and values shape our perception of prostitution and sex workers by exploring different conceptualizations of sex work (a social problem, a gender issue, a solution, etc.).
  • The course does not seek to promote certain views on sex work or sex workers, but the ambition is to make you understand what your personal opinions are shaped by.
  • To learn more specifically about prostitution in Denmark and the Netherlands and how the industry is affected by globalization and migration.

Approach to Teaching

This course is our course which means you have a chance to help shape our time together. I provide the framework and have selected texts, guests, visits, etc. to inspire and challenge our understanding of prostitution and the sex trade but this class only really flies if you take some ownership and participate - by listening to your classmates and by voicing your opinion or exploring a different view point.

The class consists of a combination of a short lectures and more interactive activities such as class discussions, field studies and meetings with guests whose work is directly linked to prostitution (both pro and con-side) as well as anti-trafficking work.

A safe and brave space

The class is discussion based and I encourage you to be open, curious, and respectful during your own and your classmates' learning experiences. Remember to challenge ideas - not people. 

This course is dependent on everyone's active participation in class. If you are someone who finds it difficult to speak up in class, come talk to me in the first week so we can discuss alternative ways for participating and co-creating in the class. 

Accessibility and Accommodations

Your learning experience in this class is important to us If you have an approved academic accommodation with DIS, please make sure we receive your accommodations letter within two weeks of the start of the semester (the first two days for summer courses). If you can think of other ways, I can support your learning, please don't hesitate to talk to either one of us. If you have any further questions about your accommodations, please contact Academic Support at

Academic Honesty:

You are a part of an intellectual community and I expect that you abide by the highest standards of intellectual honesty in your academic work. This means that you do your own work and credit all work or thought taken from others.

See the Academic Handbook for more information, or ask us if you have questions.

Content Note: 

At times this semester, we will be discussing topics and lived experiences that may be disturbing, even traumatizing, to some students (e.g. rape, sexual assault, poverty, drug addiction, and trafficking). If you suspect that specific material is likely to be emotionally challenging for you, I’d be happy to discuss any concerns you may have before the subject comes up in class. Likewise, if you ever wish to discuss your personal reactions to course material with the class or with me individually afterward, I welcome such discussions as an appropriate part of our classwork.

If you ever feel the need to step outside during a class discussion you may always do so without academic penalty. You will, however, be responsible for any material you miss. If you do leave the room for a significant time, please make arrangements to get notes from another student or see me individually to discuss the situation.


A word about grades: I realize that grades are important to you, but try not to let your anxiety about grades deter you from taking intellectual risks and learning just for the joy of learning. Also, I do not grade to punish or reward you just as our grade is not an indication of our evaluation of you as a person. I grade you to give you my honest assessment of your academic performance at this point in time.

Attendance:  You are expected to attend all classes, guest lectures, workshops, field studies and study tour. If you must miss a class for religious holidays, medical reasons, or other valid reasons, let us know before the absence and obtain information from us or your fellow students about the work you must do to keep up in class. 

The semester goes by super quickly so it is crucial for your learning that you stay on task, set aside time for readings and hand in assignments on or before the due date. All work– including in-class projects – have to be completed in order to pass the class. Late assignments will be marked down with 1/3 of a grade for each day it is late.

Questions or just want to talk?
Feel free to email or schedule an appointment, I'd love to talk to you.

I reserve the right to make changes to the syllabus throughout the semester

Academic Regulations 

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




Active participation in class activities, including study tour, ongoing. 



Podcast assignment, including academic reflection



Take a Stand - Informative Opinion Piece 




Teresa Imaya Bengtsson (she/her) is cand.mag (M.A.) in Advanced Migration Studies from Copenhagen University and has a Bachelor's degree in Global Humanities from Roskilde University. Teresa is Danish-American and was born and raised in San Francisco, California. Teresa studied abroad at the University of Amsterdam and specialized in transnational relationships and sugar dating and Tinder usage within study abroad. She also studied at the University of California, Santa Barbara with the Chicano/a/x department and has done research on transnational marriages. Teresa has volunteered and worked with numerous non-profit organizations that support migrants and minorities in creative and innovative ways. With DIS since 2014.


Mandatory readings are listed in the calendar below. Please come to class having read the texts - it makes for much better and more informed discussions. Other texts, videos, etc. might be added but always with advance notice. 

Course Summary


Course Summary:

Date Details Due