GV4H3      Half Unit
Feminist Political Theory

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Sarah Goff


This course is available on the MPhil/PhD in Gender, 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 has a limited number of places (it is controlled access) and demand is typically high. Priority is given to students in the MSc Political Theory programme.

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, equality and the politics of difference, marriage and feminist perspectives on trans issues.


This course provides a combination of seminars and lectures totalling 20 hours in the LT. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online and on-campus lectures and seminars. There will be a reading week in LT Week 6.

Formative coursework

Students will submit a short formative essay (up to 1500 words) and will be given feedback on this before submitting their assessed coursework.

Indicative reading

Simone de Beauvoir (1949) The Second Sex; Susan Moller Okin ‘Forty Acres and a Mule for Women’ Politics, Philosophy & Economics (2005); Carole Pateman (1988) The Sexual Contract; Iris M Young (1990) Justice and the Politics of Difference;  Anne Phillips (1995) The Politics of Presence; Clare Chambers (2017) Against Marriage: An Egalitarian Defence of the Marriage-Free State; Serene Khader (2018) Decolonizing Universalism: Towards a Transnational Feminist Ethic; Talia Mae Bettcher ‘Evil deceivers and make-believers: Transphobic violence and the politics of illusion’ Hypatia (2007).


Essay (100%, 4000 words).

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Student performance results

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 25
Merit 60.5
Pass 14.5
Fail 0

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2020/21: 27

Average class size 2020/21: 14

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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