PHIL41280 Feminist & Gender Theory

Academic Year 2023/2024

This seminar will introduce students to key contemporary feminist philosophers and debates between feminist philosophers with a view to understanding how their work draws from and challenges dominant philosophical traditions in the creation of new philosophical understandings of knowledge, ethics, self and politics.

We begin with an exploration of what is feminist philosophy? Feminism has a much more recent history than Philosophy. Feminism can be characterised as a popular (or unpopular) social movement that seeks to change the status quo to enable equal participation by girls and women in the public to that of boys and men, and to create a cultural parity of esteem for both masculinity and femininity. Besides this egalitarian project feminism has another impulse which is to seek to deconstruct the meaning of what it is to be male or female and to inscribe new signification for these terms and for the relationship between them. The ambivalence of these goals might be seen to excite many of the debates among feminists. The initial seminar will seek to collectively arrive at definitions for what Philosophy is and does which will begin a discussion that will continue for the remaining weeks: how might we define feminist philosophy?

Feminist philosophy is vibrant with debate and revision and the topics that will be addressed in our reading and discussion will offer a variety of contestations among feminists. These topics will include:
(i) What is Gender and its significance?
(ii) Feminist epistemology and feminist philosophies of ignorance;
(iii) Feminist conceptions of what is a Self?;
(iv) Feminist Ethics;
(v) Feminist Political Philosophy;

We will meet face-to-face in our seminars . The lectures (powerpoint) and required reading will be available in advance on-line on the Brightspace learning platform. It is expected that students will engage with this material before our lecture time slot. When we meet for our seminars we will be able to have a lot of interactive discussion on the required reading. The lecturer will merely re-cap the key points of the lectures uploaded on Brightspace and answer points that students find confusing, interesting, exciting, debatable or even objectionable in the readings and lectures.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module, students should have developed their ability to:
1. Demonstrate specialised, detailed and advanced theoretical and conceptual knowledge and understanding of some of the key debates in feminist philosophy and gender theory.
2. Explain current conceptual debates in feminist philosophy and gender theory..
3. Apply their knowledge and understanding of feminist and gender theory to the broader context of philosophy
4. Show an ability to critically evaluate feminist conceptual frameworks.
5. Make informed judgements about feminist philosophy based on complex and (necessarily) incomplete information.
6. Reflect on wider social issues involved in applying feminist philosophy to contemporary societies.
7. Communicate interpretations of theoretical material relating to gender theory and feminist philosophy to specialist and non-specialist audiences in a clear and concise manner.
8. Have the learning skills to facilitate further self-directed and autonomous research into feminist philosophy and gender theory.

Indicative Module Content:

Definition and discussion of key feminist concepts: patriarchy, misogyny, sexism. Gender Theory including performativity, Queer Theory and hegemonic masculinity. Feminist philosophical perspectives on ethics, political theory, epistemology, aesthetics and metaphysics.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The class will initially proceed with a 20-40 minute presentation by the course co-coordinator based on lecture notes which are supplied in advance. Students will be required to read generally two or three assigned articles or book chapters and class lecture notes in advance of the class meeting. Students will also be required to send a question for general discussion to the course co-ordinator in advance of the class. These questions will then structure the second part of our meeting which will take the form of a seminar discussion. Required readings, lecture note and lecture presentations are available for download from a digital drive (which also includes a supplementary bibliography and an organised database of relevant articles and on-line audio-visual lectures for those interested in further research). Assessment is based on seminar participation and end-of-semester research paper. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Essay: 4,000-5,000 word research paper Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded Yes


Assignment: Seminar Participation & draft plan for final essay Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Summer No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.

Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Seminar Offering 1 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Thurs 11:00 - 12:50