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Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to:

  • BA students in Philosophy, who have successfully completed their first year, and who have also completed at least 10 EC’s of the mandatory components of their second year, including Philosophy of Mind or Concepts of Selfhood.

  • Pre-master’s students in Philosophy who are in possession of an admission statement, and for whom this course is part of their programme.


The course explores Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, a foundational work for feminism and feminist philosophy. During the semester, we will read the text covering both its sections and engaging in an in-depth exploration of the philosophical themes presented in it, placing them in the context of de Beauvoir’s dialogue with phenomenology and existentialism. We will focus on the issues of embodiment and subjective experience in order to explore the particular standpoint that the author adopts when writing about her own femininity, and the consequences said approach has when it comes to denouncing the way philosophy in general is conducted. We will reflect on the text’s relevance for current feminist thought, and address certain possible criticisms to de Beauvoir’s theoretical stances from within the feminist mouvement.

Course objectives

This course aims to provide students interested in feminist philosophy and/or the work of Simone de Beauvoir a detailed view of The Second Sex.

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • Simone de Beauvoir’s philosophical context and influences;

  • phenomenological issues and their feminist approach in The Second Sex;

  • main debates around Simone de Beauvoir’s work within the feminist tradition;

  • the general approach and some specific issues of the phenomenological and existentialist traditions.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • develop a philosophical understanding of main debates in classic feminist thought;

  • present a comprehensive understanding of Simone de Beauvoir’s philosophical thought in.


The timetable is available on the following websites:

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Course load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours

  • Attending lectures and seminars (13 weeks x 3 hrs): 39 hours

  • Preparation lectures and/or seminars: 50 hours

  • Study of compulsory literature: 45 hours

  • Preparation take home exam: 45 hours

  • Writing paper: 75 hours

Assessment method


  • Mid-term take-home examination, made of a series of short questions: 35%

  • Final take-home essay, dealing with the entirety of the course (one question taken from a list of three): 65%


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average of the several subtests.


The resit consists of one examination, covering the entirety of the course material, consisting of a take-home essay on one imposed question taken from any section of the course. No separate resits will be offered for subtests. The mark for the resit will replace all previously earned marks for subtests. Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination cannot take the resit.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • posting texts;

  • posting general information documents (syllabus etc.);

  • posting assignements and updates.

Reading list

  • All students should have a physical or digital copy of the English translation of of Simone de Beauvoir’s Le deuxième sexe made by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany (Vintage editions).
    Please keep in mind there exists a prior translation but we will use this one in the course.

  • Any other texts will be made available through Blackboard at the start of the semester, or during the course.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetables for courses and exams.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


M.C. Vecino MA


Not applicable.