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Study information

Philosophy and Sociology of Race

Module titlePhilosophy and Sociology of Race
Module codePHL3119
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Celso Alves Neto (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

In this module, we examine the nature of race and racism in contemporary society. We investigate whether races do exist and how the belief in their existence (or inexistence) might have significant socio-political consequences. Moreover, we analyse the key features of racism and their psychological and social dimensions, such as implicit bias, epistemic injustice, and colour-blindness. The module is highly recommended for interdisciplinary pathways, and it is suitable for non-specialist students interested in the social-scientific and philosophical analysis of racial relations.

Module aims - intentions of the module

What are race and racism? How do they manifest in human minds and social relations? What are the political consequences of such phenomena? To examine these questions, the module draws on work in philosophy, psychology, sociology, and the natural sciences. Students are exposed to the central concepts and theories of race and racism considering recent technological developments (e.g., DNA ancestry tests) and recent social events (e.g., Black Lives Matter). This module offers students the opportunity to learn in an interdisciplinary context. Students will be able to apply their knowledge to current affairs, to conduct responsible research on socially relevant topics, among other valuable skills for future employment.  

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Identify and discuss key issues in the contemporary debate around the nature and social implications of race and racism.
  • 2. Distinguish and critically evaluate the central positions and arguments concerning the nature and social implications of race and racism in the contemporary debate.
  • 3. Articulate the differences and potential connections among the distinct scholarly traditions within the multi-disciplinary reflections about race and racism.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 4. Demonstrate an excellent understanding of philosophical distinctions, concepts, and how they apply to real-world cases
  • 5. Demonstrate competency in critically evaluating philosophical positions, arguments, and methods

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 6. Critically and competently use of central concepts and distinctions around socially sensitive and relevant topics
  • 7. Analyse, communicate, and articulate concepts, positions, and arguments both in written and oral form
  • 8. Engage in independent and original research, within a limited time frame, to develop original positions and arguments on socially sensitive and relevant topics

Syllabus plan

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

  • Do Races Exist? Biological Realism, Constructivism, and Skepticism
  • ‘Race’ Eliminativism
  • Racial Classifications in Medicine: what’s the use?
  • Definitions of Racism: Psychological, Structural, Intersectional, Monism, and Pluralism
  • Expressions of Racism: Epistemic Injustice, Privilege, Colour-Blindness, and Social Dynamics
  • Racism in Practice: Black Lives Matter, Reparations, and Social Justice

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 and Teaching activities22Weekly 2-hour lectures/seminars or 1 hour lecture + 1 hour seminar.
Guided independent study83Private research in preparation for essay writing and written exams. Instructions will be given via ELE.
Guided independent study45Private study: reading the assigned material for classes and additional readings

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay Plan500 words1-8Oral and written

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
Research Portfolio (5 discussion questions and one essay based on one of the questions)1002,500 words (5 X 100 words for discussion questions and 2,000 words essay)1-8Written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Research Portfolio (5 discussion questions and one essay based on one of the questions)2,500 words (5 X 100 words for discussion questions and 2,000 words essay)1-8August/September reassessment period

Re-assessment notes

Re-assessment takes place when the summative assessment has not been completed by the original deadline, and the student has been allowed to refer or defer it to a later date (this only happens following certain criteria and is always subject to exam board approval). For obvious reasons, re-assessments cannot be the same as the original assessment and so these alternatives are set. In cases where the form of assessment is the same, the content will nevertheless be different.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Crenshaw, K. (1990). Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color. Stan. L. Rev., 43, 1241.

Glasgow, J., Haslanger, S., Jeffers, C., & Spencer, Q. (2019). What is Race?: Four Philosophical Views. Oxford University Press.

Haslanger, S. A. (2012). Resisting reality: Social construction and social critique. Oxford University Press. 7, 8, 10

Mills, C. W. (2014). The racial contract. Cornell University Press.

Taylor, P. C., Alcoff, L. M., & Anderson, L. (Eds.). (2017). The Routledge companion to the philosophy of race. Routledge.

Key words search

Race; Racism

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date