GV4H3      Half Unit
Feminist Political Theory

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Anne Phillips Con 5.07


This course is available on the MSc in Gender, MSc in Gender (Research), MSc in Gender, Development and Globalisation, MSc in Gender, Policy and Inequalities and MSc in Political Theory. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is capped at 2 groups. The deadline for receipt of applications is Friday, 2 October 2015.

Course content

This course covers some of the central debates in contemporary feminist political theory, with a particular emphasis on the legacy and usefulness of liberalism. The course focuses on debates and differences within feminist political theory, rather than justifications for, or defences of, feminist political theory. Among the problems raised are conceptions of the individual and individual autonomy; the relative invisibility of gender issues in mainstream literature on justice and equality; the tendency to conceive of equality in sex-blind terms; the tendency to presume a universally applicable set of norms. We consider the theoretical debates in relation to a number of contemporary political issues. Topics likely to be addressed include: feminism and contract, individualism and autonomy, identity politics, equality and the politics of difference, surrogacy, multiculturalism, and universalism.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT.

There will be a reading week in week 6 of the LT for advice and feedback sessions.

Formative coursework

Students will be required to submit a short essay of roughly 1,500 words. Students will be given a list of questions to choose from, and should choose a topic other than the one they choose for their final assessment.

Indicative reading

Most of the material is in the form of articles, and a detailed list will be handed out at the beginning of the course. The following is only an indicative list: J Squires, Gender in Political Theory; C Pateman The Sexual Contract; I M Young, Justice and the Politics of Difference; W Brown, States of Injury; A Phillips Multiculturalism without Culture; C MacKenzie and N Stoljar (eds) Relational Autonomy.


Essay (100%, 4000 words).

Student performance results

(2011/12 - 2012/13 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 22.4
Merit 53.1
Pass 24.5
Fail 0

Teachers' comment

This course typically recruits students from both the MSc in Political Theory programme and MSc in Gender programmes; this provides a good mix of expertise from mainstream and feminist theory.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2014/15: 25

Average class size 2014/15: 9

Controlled access 2014/15: Yes

Lecture capture used 2014/15: Yes (MT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication

Course survey results

(2011/12 - 2012/13 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 75.4%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)