The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Sunday 17 January 2021
Friday 26 March 2021
16 May 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for

LLB MV16 Law with Philosophy,
LLB MV18 Law with Philosophy (Including Year Abroad),
LLB MV19 Law with Philosophy (Including Placement Year)

Module description

Feminism is a body of theory and practice aimed at illuminating and overcoming the oppression of women. This definition raises a number of complex questions, and the goal of this module is to equip students with conceptual and textual tools to approach those questions in a critical way. First, what is a woman? The thorny distinction between the biological category of sex and the social category of gender precludes an easy answer, as does the plurality of sexual identities. Second, what forms of oppression are at issue? We will talk about classic political issues including the fight for the right to vote and equal rights; but we will also explore the many areas, beyond the straightforwardly political sphere, where gendered oppression continues to manifest itself. This will lead us to consider, among other topics, the politics of family and domestic work, objectification, sex work, pornography, silencing and epistemic injustice. We will ask why women are oppressed, and what steps might be possible (and legitimate) to end that oppression. We will also look at the complex interactions between gender-based discrimination and other forms of discrimination, in particular those based on race and class.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:
• to develop a familiarity with some of the major figures, themes and concepts of feminist philosophy;
• to undertake a close reading of selected classics from the feminist canon;
• to develop the ability to use feminist texts to illuminate social phenomena in the contemporary world;
• to gain a precise understanding of at least one major theme or problem in feminism.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module students should be able in their essay :
• to summarise in their own words and critically assess the principal theories and philosophical perspectives examined in this course;
• to compare and evaluate conflicting accounts of the task and nature of feminism, and of specific issues such as the nature of womanhood, the relationship between sex and gender, and the ways in which feminism might relate to other theoretical and practical contributions to struggles against oppression (such as anti-capitalist and critical race theory);
• to offer detailed philosophical analysis and critique of journal articles published in the field;
• to demonstrate an understanding of the relation between feminist theory and practice by relating, for example, particular theories to their own experience.

By the end of the module, students should also have acquired a set of transferable skills, and in particular be able to:
• define the task in which they are engaged and exclude what is irrelevant;
• seek and organise the most relevant discussions and sources of information;
• process a large volume of diverse and sometimes conflicting arguments;
• compare and evaluate different arguments and assess the limitations of their own position or procedure;
• write and present verbally a succinct and precise account of positions, arguments, and their presuppositions and implications;
• be sensitive to the positions of others and communicate their own views in ways that are accessible to them;
• think 'laterally' and creatively - see interesting connections and possibilities and present these clearly rather than as vague hunches;
• maintain intellectual flexibility and revise their own position if shown wrong;
• think critically and constructively.

Module information

Incoming Study Abroad students must have already taken two Philosophy modules at their home institution.

Please note that this module will require a high level of commitment from the students enrolled. This will include keeping up with the pace of weekly readings, as assessed by quizzes.

Learning and teaching methods

There will be a two-hour combined lecture and seminar each week and a separate one-hour class. All teaching events will be accessible to students on and off campus either face-to-face or remotely through online teaching. Week 21 is Reading Week. You are expected to bring a copy of the required weekly readings to seminars.


  • Crenshaw, Kimberle. (1991-07) 'Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color', in Stanford Law Review. vol. 43 (6) , pp.1241-
  • Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. (2014) We should all be feminists, London: Fourth Estate.
  • de Beauvoir, Simone. (1993) The Second Sex, London: David Campbell.
  • Finlayson, Lorna. (c2015) An introduction to feminism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. vol. Cambridge introductions to philosophy
  • Fraser, Nancy. (2014) 'Behind Marx's Hidden Abode', in New Left Review. vol. 86
  • Rae Langton. (1993) '"Speech Acts and Unspeakable Acts", in Philosophy & Public Affairs', in Philosophy & Public Affairs: Wiley. vol. 22 (4) , pp.293-330
  • Okin, Susan Moller. (1991) 'John Rawls: Justice as Fairness - For Whom?', in Feminist interpretations and political theory, Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Nussbaum, Martha. (1995) 'Objectification', in Philosophy & Public Affairs: Wiley. vol. 24 (4) , pp.249-
  • Judith Butler. (1990) 'Chapter 1: Subjects of Sex/Gender/Desire', in Gender Trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity: Routledge.
  • (no date) We should all be feminists | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie | TEDxEuston - YouTube.
  • Haslanger, Sally. (2000-03) 'Gender and Race: (What) Are They? (What) Do We Want Them To Be?', in Nous. vol. 34 (1) , pp.31-55

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Essay plan with annotated bibliography and questionnaire     25% 
Coursework   Essay (2500 words)     50% 
Coursework   Quizzes TOTAL    25% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Marie Guillot, email:
Dr Marie Guillot



External examiner

Dr Thomas Joseph Stern
University College London
Senior Lecturer
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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