Centre for Gender Studies

Taught MAs and Postgraduate Research

Sussex offers a broad portfolio of taught MA courses and research degrees in gender-related subjects. Details of the MA in Gender Studies are given below. There are also three other MAs on offer: Gender and Media, Sexual Dissidence in Literature & Culture, and Gender and Development (owned by the Institute of Development Studies). Check the online Postgraduate prospectus for information on all of these.

There are two doctoral pathways in Gender Studies, in humanities and social sciences, and there is a Gender pathway on the MSc in Social Research Methods if you require research training first. Students can also pursue gender-related research through other subjects - currently, there are currently almost 100 students working on doctorates in gender-related topics across the university. Scroll to the bottom of the page for details about PhD research and research training in Gender Studies.

The MA in Gender Studies

The MA in Gender Studies is located in the School of Law, Politics and Sociology and aims to provide students with advanced grounding in feminist theory and methodology, taught through the discussion of contemporary gender issues. There is an emphasis on research training, culminating in the production of a dissertation with a strong empirical component. In keeping with Gender Studies tradition, there is also a commitment to interdisciplinarity: contributing colleagues come from departments such as Sociology, Media & Film, Anthropology, Law, English Literature and International Relations and there is a wide choice of options on offer.

The MA has two core modules, both taught in the Autumn term.

Gender Politics and Social Research
This module approaches feminist theory and methodology at advanced levels, critically exploring feminist research on a number of different issues and engaging with the politics of the research process itself. It is intended to prepare students for conducting independent research and producing their dissertation. The first half of the module introduces different methodologies and methods, encouraging students to reflect critically on their strengths and weaknesses and how feminists have used them in the service of political projects around issues such as sexual violence, sex work, abortion and practices of veiling. In the second half of the course, students design research projects on two case-study issues and attempt to operationalise key feminist theories.

Feminism, Law and Society
The module considers different feminist theories and understandings of the role of gender in society. It reflects upon the consequences of that role on the rules, principles and policies of that society. The ambition of the module is to explore the extent to which sex and gender inform the rules of law so as to foster or undermine inequalities in society. In exploring the contours of law as they are informed by gender considerations the module also explores the relationship between law and society in the construction of gender and sexual identities. The module uses traditional legal sources - cases, statutes, legal treatises on the subject - in addition to academic commentary and analysis from sociology, law, politics, philosophy and cultural studies. It is also informed by developments in the politics of gender and by changes instigated by feminist, critical race, and queer theory.

Students also take two options in the Spring, from a list which has previously included the following: The Body: Current Controversies and Debates; The Cinematic Body; Critical Perspectives in Global Public Health; Embodiment and Institutionalisation of Violence, Conflict and Conciliation; Families, Healthcare and the Law; Feminism and Film; Gender, Inclusion and Educational Development; Gender, Sexuality and Family Law; Queering Popular Culture; and Women and Human Rights.

Depending on availability, students may also take options from outside the course, for instance: The Renaissance Body; The Cinema of the Domestic; Sexuality and Creative Writing; Querying the Unconscious; Feminist Criticisms and Contemporary Women's Writing; Contemporary Post-Colonial Women's Writing; and  Writing by Women: the Politics of Gender.

In the Summer, students work on a 15,000-word dissertation on a topic of their own choice, closely supervised by an expert faculty member.

For more information on the MA in Gender Studies, contact Director Alison Phipps at a.e.phipps@sussex.ac.uk.

To apply for postgraduate study in Gender Studies, use the online form.

Research degrees in Gender Studies

There are two doctoral pathways in Gender Studies, in humanities and social sciences. Students are normally registered in the School in which their main supervisor is located.

The Gender Studies (Humanities) pathway is for those students seeking to do a research project in areas that are primarily (but not exclusively) cultural, rather than social. The cultural is a broad definition of a field which may include identities and subcultures, histories, narrative, texts and discourses, space, religion, spirituality, the cultural politics of representation, education, visual art, philosophy, cultural geographies, literatures, popular culture, music and sound, digital media technologies, media and film, creative practise, drama and performance, embodiment. The Humanities route offers interdisciplinary and disciplinary supervision.

Recent PhD theses in Gender Studies (Humanities) include: the Queer Uncanny; Canary Wharf and Anxious Spaces; A Cultural History of Passing; Life Histories of Lesbians over Sixty; Polysexual Representations in British Television; Barbara Stanwyck and Femininity; Ordinary Womens' Blogs; the Older Woman's Body as a Source of Horror; Changing Media Changing Feminisms: Contemporary Queer and Feminist Activism in Britain; Corporeal Ties Between Dance, Film, and Audience; Non-fiction Family film as Autobiography; Uneasy interactions between national, gender, and religious identities in 'Domestic Ethnography'; a wide range of topics within gendered writing, feminist philosophers, race, writing and 'difference', and women's histories.

For more details about the Gender Studies (Humanities) pathway, contact Professor Sally Munt at s.r.munt@sussex.ac.uk.

The Gender Studies (Social Sciences) pathway is for students who wish to pursue research into the social structures and discourses of gender. This could be within a number of disciplines including Sociology, Politics, Law, Anthropology, Human Geography, and International Relations, with the potential for both disciplinary and interdisciplinary supervision. Social aspects of gender could include work and/or family life, politics and social policy, the impact of globalisation and socio-economic structures, the influence of national and religious cultures, the politics of the body, and the construction of gendered discourses, experiences and identities in different social contexts, with particular attention paid to how gender intersects with categories such as class, sexual orientation and 'race'.

Within the Gender Studies (Social Sciences) pathway, students are pursuing topics such as: gender and sexuality; gendered and sexual violence; issues of gender and citizenship, nationalism and globalisation; 19th and 20th century British women's history, gender, power and politics in various national contexts; gender and development; gender in the workplace; gender and education; gender and reproductive rights; gender and social anthropology; feminist life history; and feminist movements/women's activism.

For more details about the Gender Studies (Social Sciences) pathway, contact Director of Gender Studies Alison Phipps at a.e.phipps@sussex.ac.uk.

Apply for PhD study in Gender using the online form.


There are a number of university scholarships for postgraduate applicants and external funders you might approach: please see the page on funding your studies for more information.