The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 03 October 2019
Saturday 14 December 2019
15 May 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA VV15 Philosophy and History,
BA VV16 Philosophy and History (Including Placement Year),
BA VV51 Philosophy and History (Including Foundation Year),
BA VV5C Philosophy and History (Including Year Abroad),
BA VV5X Philosophy and History (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
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 module will look at some of the main strands in modern feminist theory, and at the different ways in which they understand the nature, role and objectives of feminism.

Beyond the shared commitment to ending the oppression of women, feminists disagree on such central questions as: How and why are women oppressed? What steps are needed (and what steps are permissible) to end that oppression? Should we be aiming for freedom, or equality, or justice (and what do these terms mean)? What is a 'woman' (and should we even use the term)? What is the relationship between feminism and other theoretical and practical movements for social change such as struggles against racial oppression and imperialism?

These questions are best tackled by maintaining a dual focus on the practice as well as the theory of feminism, and by looking at contemporary feminism in the light of its long history.

Module aims

No information available.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module students should be able in their essay and exam work to:
• 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 an in-class test.

Learning and teaching methods

1 x 2-hour lecture and 1 x 1-hour seminar each week, except Week 8 which is Reading Week. The two-hour weekly lectures will often be interactive: you are expected to have read the key text(s) for each week in advance, to be active during class and bring a copy of the required weekly reading(s). In addition, there will be a one-hour seminar session each week, which will include oral presentations followed by peer feedback and group discussion of the week's topic and readings. Those not presenting will be expected to offer constructive feedback on their classmates' presentations, and to be prepared for discussion of the key readings.


  • 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 Coursework weighting
Coursework   2000 Word Essay  13/01/2020  35.00% 
Coursework   OPTIONAL Take Home Exam  20/04/2020   
Practical   Group Presentation TOTAL    30.00% 
Practical   Group Presentations (Week 4)     
Practical   Group Presentations (Week 5)     
Practical   Group presentations (Week 6)     
Practical   Group Presentations (Week 7)     
Practical   Group Presentations (Week 9)     
Practical   Group presentations (Week 10)     
Practical   Group Presentations (Week 11)     
Practical   Group presentations (week 3)     
Written Exam  In-Class Test    35.00% 

Additional coursework information

All students are required to submit one extended essay in which they showcase their ability to develop their ideas. Students should also produce reading summaries (each 100-200 words) of nine of the texts set as required reading, demonstrating their reading and comprehension of these texts. Participation will also be assessed.

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Lorna Finlayson, email:
Dr Lorna Finlayson



External examiner

Dr Thomas Joseph Stern
University College London
Senior Lecturer
Available via Moodle
Of 58 hours, 24 (41.4%) hours available to students:
34 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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