PH433      Half Unit
Philosophy of Gender and Race

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr. Ella Whiteley and Dr. Michael Diamond-Hunter


This course is available on the MSc in Economics and Philosophy, MSc in Philosophy and Public Policy, MSc in Philosophy of Science and MSc in Philosophy of the Social Sciences. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This half-unit examines, from a philosophical perspective, the nature of gender and race and the role these categories play in shaping the social world and structuring human lives.

Topics covered will include:

Gender and Biology: How does “gender” relate to “sex”? Is our concept of biological “sex” objective, and free from gender stereotypes and norms? Is our sex fixed or changeable? 

Gender and Society: Is gender a matter of internal identity, or is it an externally-imposed social class? How does sexism intersect with other oppressions, like racism and transphobia?

Race and Society: How does the social meaning of “race” vary around the world? Should we try to reconcile “ordinary” conceptions of “race” with technical conceptions of “race”? How should we understand the directionality and limits of racial classification?

The Future of Gender and Race: Will race and gender still exist in the future? Should we try to work for a race-free and gender-free world, or should these ways of classifying people be preserved?

We will focus on approaches to these questions from “analytic” philosophy, including feminist and race-critical approaches and approaches from the philosophy of science. The aim is to confront the big questions of gender and race by analysing and constructing careful and precise philosophical arguments.


10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6 of LT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 exercise in the LT.

Indicative reading

Suggested introductory reading:

  • Fausto-Sterling, 2000 [2020 New Edition]. Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality.
  • Crenshaw, K., 1989. Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics.
  • Bettcher, Talia, 2020. Feminist Perspectives on Trans Issues, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  • Appiah, Kwame Anthony, 2005. The Ethics of Identity.
  • Lee, Sandra Soo-Jin, Koening, Barbara K., and Richardson, Sarah S., (eds.) 2011. Revisiting Race in a Genomic Age
  • Glasgow, J., Haslanger, S., Jeffers, C. and Spencer, Q., 2019. What is Race?
  • Zack, Naomi, 1993. Race and Mixed-Race.


Essay (45%, 1500 words) and class participation (10%) in the LT.
Essay (45%, 1500 words) in the ST.

There is no exam for this half-unit. There will be two summative essays, each worth 45% of the final mark. 10% of the final mark will be awarded for seminar participation.

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.

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: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method

Total students 2020/21: 19

Average class size 2020/21: 9

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills