Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POL3217: Feminist Political Theory

This module descriptor refers to the 2018/9 academic year.

Module Aims

This module considers feminist theory from a variety of perspectives in order to convey to students the interdisciplinary importance of feminism. The module will encourage you to engage in close reading of influential feminist thinkers, such as Simone de Beauvoir, Iris Marion Young, Judith Butler, Carol Pateman, and Nancy Fraser.  The course will proceed in three parts: 1) laying a conceptual foundation through close reading 2) using concepts learned to critique mainstream ideas and 3) arguing for practical solutions to contemporary political problems.  The first part of the course will give a broad historical account of the emergence of the second, third, and fourth waves of feminism and will give an overview of the major conceptual insights of feminist theory, such as the historical privileging of masculinity over femininity, the tension between equality and sexual difference, the inescapability of gender identity, and the problem of intersectionality.  The second part of the course will build on this conceptual knowledge through the application of feminist insights to contemporary political theory.  It will look at the critiques posed by prominent feminist theorists of many of the central tenets of liberalism, including autonomy, property, the social contract, and human rights.  The third part of the course will involve reading feminist theorists who offer alternative ways of understanding and practicing politics that have arisen as answers to the problems with mainstream political theory raised by feminism.  These include care ethics, cultivating “epistemic justice”, and advocating feminist practices like consciousness raising.  You will gain both a deeper understanding of the systematic inequality of women around the world and a practical toolkit for critiquing and ameliorating social injustice.  

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

This module's assessment will evaluate your achievement of the ILOs listed here – you will see reference to these ILO numbers in the details of the assessment for this module.

On successfully completing the programme you will be able to:
Module-Specific Skills1. Understand in depth the historical and philosophical underpinnings of a prominent political phenomenon.
2. Critically evaluate different understandings of feminism.
Discipline-Specific Skills3. Perform close readings and analysis of complex theoretical texts.
4. Articulate complex theoretical concepts and apply these to practical political problems.
Personal and Key Skills5. Engage in conversations with others about complex political problems.
6. Write a well-organized and well-argued essay defending a single argument.