PH433      Half Unit
Philosophy of Gender and Race

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Jingyi Wu


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 may 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 WT.

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

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 2 pieces of coursework in the WT.

Students will be expected to complete at least 2 short assignments aimed at cultivating philosophical skills in the Winter Term.

Students will be expected to present and/or lead at least one seminar discussion in the Winter Term.

Students will have the opportunity to receive feedback on their summative essay plan.

Other formative activities may be introduced.

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.
  • Mills, Charles, 2007.  "White ignorance."
  • Glasgow, J., Haslanger, S., Jeffers, C. and Spencer, Q., 2019. What is Race?
  • Zack, Naomi, 1993. Race and Mixed-Race.


Essay (90%, 2000 words) in the ST.
Class participation (10%) in the WT.

Essay (2000 words), or instructor-approved final project of comparable length and effort (90%) in the Spring Term.

Class participation (10%) in the Winter Term.

There is no exam for this half-unit.

Student performance results

(2019/20 - 2021/22 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 32.8
Merit 59.4
Pass 7.8
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method

Total students 2022/23: 19

Average class size 2022/23: 9

Controlled access 2022/23: No

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (LT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

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