Thinking about Freedom: Six Female Philosophers, 1600 - 2000

Course details

From £215.00
10 CATS points

03 Oct 2019 - 05 Dec 2019
Day of week

Thinking about Freedom: Six Female Philosophers, 1600 - 2000


This course will look at the theme of freedom as explored by often neglected female philosophers, including: Princess Elisabeth, whose correspondence with Descartes led to his producing his final treatise, The Passions of the Soul; Gabrielle Suchon, who anticipates existentialism;  Mary Wollstonecraft, who provides a colourful account of social norms and the limitations they place on our ability to exercise our freedom; and Simone de Beauvoir, whose account of our "situated freedom" resonates today.  

We will also discuss Hannah Arendt’s account of our nature as fundamentally free and of the necessity to think for ourselves if we are to reach our potential as free beings, bringing us into the contemporary debate on the nature of social and individual freedom.

Programme details

Courses starts: 03 Oct 2019

Week 1:  The history of women in philosophy: Disappearing Ink by Eileen O'Neill.

Week 2:  Princess Elisabeth's view of the mind-body problem.

Week 3:  Descartes's responses to Elisabeth's questions.

Week 4:  Gabrielle Suchon's "Neutralist".

Week 5:  Mary Wollstonecraft on education, social norms, and women's roles.

Week 6:  Mary Wollstonecraft: thought experiments on the nature of freedom.

Week 7:  Simone de Beauvoir: Her philosophical commitments.

Week 8:  Simone de Beauvoir: Situated Freedom.

Week 9:  Hannah Arendt: The Greek and Kantian roots of her thought

Week 10:  Hannah Arendt: On the Banality of Evil: what was she telling us?


Students who register for CATS points will receive a Record of CATS points on successful completion of their course assessment.

To earn credit (CATS points) you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework in order to benefit fully from the course. Only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard.

Students who do not register for CATS points during the enrolment process can either register for CATS points prior to the start of their course or retrospectively from between January 1st and July 31st after the current academic year has been completed. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.


Description Costs
Course Fee £215.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00


Ms Rachel Paine

Rachel has been teaching with the department since 2005 on both the online courses and the weekly classes programme. Her website is:

Course aims

To explore the ideas of six female philosophers and their contributions to the  philosophical study of human freedom.

To develop your own views on these philosophical accounts and understand those of other students.

Course Objectives:  

To understand and assess the arguments put forward by the philosophers studied.

To express your views about their work in either a formal or informal manner (through a structured essay or several short summaries of their work).

Teaching methods

There will be reading assignments, written work both at home and in class, lectures by the tutor, and group discussions.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be familiar with the work of six female philosophers who wrote on the concept of human freedom.  They will have the understanding necessary to form a view about it and to integrate it into the existing body of philosophical views on freedom. 

Assessment methods

Assessment is based upon the production of short pieces set throughout the term and a longer essay or 15 minutes class presentation at the end of the course.

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form.


To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an application form

Level and demands

Introductory level.

Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)