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Study information

Feminist Philosophy: Gender, Race and Class

Module titleFeminist Philosophy: Gender, Race and Class
Module codePHL3079
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Astrid Schrader (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Feminist philosophy introduces you to theories about equality and justice in relation to the discrimination of women. We will focus on feminist literature from the past 50 years. Reading works by the most famous feminist philosophers, such as Angela Davis, Nancy Fraser, and Judith Butler among others.

Feminist philosophy is a theory as well as a practice with direct political goals. Similar to other critical philosophies of society, such a postcolonial theory or critical race theory, it has a normative and political motivation and aim. Approaches developed in feminist philosophy have shaped reflection and judgment in other social debates (e.g. racial and ethnic diversity, local and global economic diversity). We will discuss theories including constructivism, standpoint theory, care ethics, and theories of recognition. While developed in the context of the feminist movement, they are now widely applied in reflections on justice, equality and the perception of truth. The modern individual as defined in social relations is being challenged, and philosophers ask how features such as sex or race work as classifiers of who we are as individuals .At the same time, binaries of male and female, hetero- or homosexual are being challenged, both in theory and in society.

This module brings together problems of social and political philosophy, but also of epistemology. How do we know what man or woman is and what does it mean, why does it matter for your identity and self in the social order we live in? It engages with present day moral and societal questions, including the new feminist and anti-discrimination movement and the intersectional approach developed to address overlapping forms of discrimination. We will discuss the gap between formal rights and their everyday realization as well as problems of cultural diversity, economic and legal in/equality, institutional and systemic discrimination/bias. 

Requirements are: an interest in the themes above; preparedness to reading the weekly texts; willingness to present on one of them in the seminar; active contribution in the seminars. The module is open as an optional module in philosophy to students in social sciences and other disciplines.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to:

  • provide knowledge about philosophical theories of identity, difference and equality
  • provide you with an understanding of thematic developments in feminist theory and practice
  • engage you in current debates about discrimination and equality, biology and difference
  • develop your skills in analysis, argument, discussion, and writing

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. demonstrate comprehensive and critical knowledge and understanding of the theories and problems discussed in the module;
  • 2. demonstrate in-depth understanding of the methodological and conceptual problems of critique.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. demonstrate a high level of understanding of the interrelation between theories, values, and political conditions;
  • 4. demonstrate sound knowledge of different types of philosophical social and political analysis.

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. demonstrate the ability to conduct research independently and to discuss complex present-day issues;
  • 6. demonstrate a high level of ability in writing reflective academic essays;
  • 7. demonstrate the ability to present your own analyses of the implications theories have on the kinds of arguments which people put forth in political debates.

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Developments in 20th Century and current Feminism
  • Feminist Epistemology
  • Sex and Gender
  • Men Doing Feminism
  • Theories of Difference
  • Standpoint Theory
  • Feminist Ethics

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning activity2211 x 2 hour weekly lectures/seminars (or 1 hour lecture + 1 hour seminar)
Guided independent study5511 x 5 hours weekly reading and working through assigned articles and books
Guided independent study36Writing reading reports, preparing presentation
Guided independent study37Independent research and writing of essay

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Reading report500 words1-7Verbal

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay1002,500 words1-7Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay (2,500 words)1-7August/September reassessment period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to redo the assessment(s) as defined above. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic readings include the following sources:

- Angela Davis, Women Race and Class, 1981

- Judith Butler, Gender Trouble 1990

- Nancy Fraser, Social Justice in the Age of Identity Politics (1996).

- Carol Gilligan: In A Different Voice (1982), Harvard University Press.

- Patricia Collins Hill and Sirma Bilge (2016), Intersectionality.

- Donna Haraway: Situated knowledges: The science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective (1988), Signs Vol. 14.

- bell hooks (1984) Feminist Theory from Margin to Center, South End Press

- Michael S. Kimmel (1998), Men Doing Feminism

- Mohanty, C., Russo, A. and Torres, L. (1991) Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press

- Uma Narayan and Sandra Harding (eds.): Decentering the Center: Philosophy for a Multicultural Postcolonial and Feminist World (2000), Indiana University Press.

Key words search

Feminist Philosophy, History of Feminism, Feminist Theories

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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