BASS Social Anthropology and Philosophy / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Philosophy of Race

Course unit fact file
Unit code PHIL20042
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Please note Raamy Majeed will be the course director for this unit once they officially start at the university in summer.

This is an advanced introduction to the philosophy of race. Drawing on a range of disciplines, e.g. biology, psychology, medicine and philosophy, we will examine key topics in this area such as the metaphysics of racial categories, the use of race in medical diagnosis, and psychological approaches to tackle racism. Some of the questions addressed in this course include, 'Is race a biological kind, a social construct or something non-existent altogether?' ‘Can we use race in medicine as a proxy for genetic differences?’ and ‘Does the science of implicit bias neglect the structural causes of racism?’ This course does not require a background in any areas outside of philosophy. In contrast, by doing this course, you will learn to engage with philosophical issues to do with race in an empirically-informed manner.


The course unit aims to:

  • introduce students to cutting-edge research in contemporary philosophy of race.
  • address the role of empirical research in addressing topics in the philosophy of race.
  • reflect analytically and critically about the latest philosophical and scientific research on race.

Learning outcomes

Students should be able to demonstrate:

  • A detailed understanding of the core questions and ideas within the philosophy of race.
  • The ability to engage analytically with some of these questions and ideas.
  • The ability to draw on empirical research to engage critically with these questions and ideas.
  • The ability to engage critically with the empirical research on race itself.
  • The ability to form a justified position and argue for it in writing.

Teaching and learning methods

There will be a mixture of lectures and tutorials.

Please note the information in scheduled activity hours are only a guidance and may change.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Group/team working
Oral communication
Problem solving
Written communication

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 67%
Written assignment (inc essay) 33%

Feedback methods

The School of Social Sciences (SoSS) is committed to providing timely and appropriate feedback to students on their academic progress and achievement, thereby enabling students to reflect on their progress and plan their academic and skills development effectively. Students are reminded that feedback is necessarily responsive: only when a student has done a certain amount of work and approaches us with it at the appropriate fora is it possible for us to feed back on the student’s work. The main forms of feedback on this course are written feedback responses to assessed essays and exam answers.

We also draw your attention to the variety of generic forms of feedback available to you on this as on all SoSS courses. These include: meeting the lecturer/tutor during their office hours; e-mailing questions to the lecturer/tutor; asking questions from the lecturer (before and after lecture); presenting a question on the discussion board on Blackboard; and obtaining feedback from your peers during tutorials.

Recommended reading

Alcoff, Linda; Anderson, Luvell & Taylor, Paul (eds.) (2017). The Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Race. Routledge.

Kahn, Jonathan (2017). Race on the Brain: What Implicit Bias Gets Wrong About the Struggle for Racial Justice. Columbia University Press.

Glasgow, Joshua; Haslanger, Sally; Jeffers, Chike & Spencer, Quayshawn (2019). What is Race?: Four Philosophical Views. Oxford University Press.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Graham Stevens Unit coordinator

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