MA in Women's Studies

Introducing the MA in Women's Studies

The MA in Women's Studies is available as a one-year full-time course or as a part-time course over two years. The programme has been taught at UCC since 1991-1992.

 The MA in Women's Studies involves:

  • a wide-ranging interdisciplinary programme;
  • focusing on both theory and practice;
  • examining women's roles and experiences globally and locally;
  • developing a range of transferable skills.

The programme is ideally suited to mature students, recent graduates and international students, see student testimonials on this page.


Women's Studies: Video Introduction

Former coordinator Sandra McAvoy introduces the programme

Teaching Plan 2020/2021

Where the campus re-opens under social distancing rules, students will be encouraged to attend all classes available each week. For all modules, given MAWS numbers, students can be physically present for all lectures, tutorials, and field excursions. Those students unable to attend class due to illness, quarantine, or concerns about underlying medical conditions, will have synchronous and recorded online access to all classes (but not field excursions).

Where the campus does not re-open, or has restricted access, all teaching will be delivered online using Panopto, supported by lecture slides, notes and reading material on Canvas. E-tutorials will be organized in place of standard tutorials. Field excursions will be cancelled during the closure period, with a view to catching up on these at a late date.

For international students and for Irish/EU students unable to travel to Cork due to work, care, or health reasons, all teaching will be delivered online using Panopto, supported by lecture slides, notes and reading material on Canvas. E-tutorials will be organized in place of standard tutorials. Online students might be required to carry out additional online assignments (discussion forums, reviews) in place of class discussions and field excursions. Depending on the amount of students taking the course remotely, and on UCC policy on student access, a summer school will be organized in UCC to meet the teaching team, supervisors and other students. Students learning remotely can also choose to attend the first semester online and the second semester (January-May) in UCC, or can come to UCC while writing their dissertation to avail of the Library and of face-to-face supervision (June-September), provided there are no campus access restrictions in place.

Class format
Some lecture content may be adjusted for online format, with more interactive teaching to ensure students engage with online teaching. Classroom protocols will apply, such as 2m spacing of students, 5-minute break in the lecture hour, hand sanitizer at door, use of face masks, and limited handling of teaching materials, with sanitizing of same. Any measures will be in line with UCC policy on student access to the campus.

Study materials
While it is hoped the Boole Library will be open by October, their online collections will provide some support for student learning where it remains closed. Lecturers will direct students to other internet resources relevant to their studies. Additional reading material will be made available on Canvas, subject to usual copyright controls.

Programme Duration and Time Commitment

Full-time students will have a minimum of six contact hours per week with staff from September to May. Between May and September they will engage in supervised research. Core seminars are held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 5.00pm to 7.00pm to facilitate students with work and other commitments.

Part-time students follow the same programme as full-time students in year 1 and have the same workload. In year 2 they work only on the dissertation.

Students participate in discussing and debating issues in seminars, directed reading, research skills training, essay and report writing, maintaining a reflective journal, making at least one student presentation, and fieldtrips. You will also have the opportunity to attend some sessions with visiting speakers, relevant additional seminars, and our annual conference. See our previous conferences here: Conference Archive

 Visit to Attic Press archive in the Boole Library

Staff Student Interaction

The M.A. combines lectures, seminars, directed readings and thesis research. There is an emphasis on student participation and students will make at least one seminar presentation during the year. Opportunities are provided for students to meet with lecturers to discuss the prescribed readings and their dissertation research. In addition, students can draw on the course coordinator as an advisor throughout the academic year.

Course Content

During the first semester students will be required to submit two essays:
  • Feminist Methodologies WS6007 - 1 x 3000-word essay
  • Feminist Theory WS6002 – 1 x 5,000-word essay

During the second semester students will be required to submit four essays and give a 20min presentation:

  • Gender and Society I WS6003 – 1 X 2,500 – 3,000-word essay
  • Research Skills WS6008 – 1 x 5,000-word Literature Review essay + Presentation
  • Gender and Society II WS6005 – 1 x 3,000-word essay
  • Reflective journal entries and a 1x2000-word essay about the journal

A detailed description of current modules can be found here:

To get a sense of the themes addressed in the course, the 2019-2020 Semester One Handbook can be downloaded here: Handbook Semester One

Course Objectives and Learning Outcomes


To offer students a postgraduate training that provides an overview of feminist theoretical perspectives and research methodologies.

To build on an interdisciplinary approach to facilitate students in applying feminist theories and methodologies to an analysis of the roles of women in society.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this programme, students should be able to:

  • Formulate arguments that reflect a critical and comprehensive, interdisciplinary knowledge of feminist debates around social and cultural issues;
  • Communicate those arguments effectively both orally and in writing;
  • Apply concepts, theories and methodologies appropriately at postgraduate level;
  • Assess how differences (race, ethnicity, class, sexual identity, time, place, values etc.) inform theoretical positions;
  • Critically evaluate evidence drawn from existing research and scholarship;
  • Design and pursue independent research;
  • Utilise those transferable skills developed through engagement with the self-directed learning, research and academic writing aspects of the course.

Eligibility and Application Procedure

Applicants need to have an honours primary degree at 2H2 level or equivalent. If you have relevant experience in the areas of community work, industry, or the professions, you can also apply.

See admissions requirements here:

Candidates will be asked to submit an essay of around 1000 words on a book, experience, or personal contact which stimulated their interest in Women’s Studies (a book review would be preferable). Further examples of applicants’ work may be requested. We also like to meet our candidates and ask them to attend for an interview. (Alternative interview arrangements may be made for international students.)

Applications should be made through UCC's application system.


CKE03  MA in Women’s Studies - Full-time

CKE21 MA in Women’s Studies - Part-time

Late applications (during the month or two before the course begins in September of any year) will be considered subject to availability of places.  Inquiries regarding admission should be directed to the Postgraduate Admissions Office, UCC at 021 4902829 or 021 4902645 or by e-mail at

If you would like further information on the course, do feel free to contact Dr Chiara Bonfiglioli, the course coordinator at  She will be very happy to talk to you and can arrange to meet you to talk through what the course involves. 


Graduate Flexi-Options

Some Women's Studies modules may be available to graduate flexi-options students (see

Women's Studies modules available in this scheme:

WS6003 Women in Society 1: Contextualising Women in Society (5 credits)

WS6005 Women in Society II: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (15 credits)

Entry Requirements for Graduate Flexi-options

Applicants for Graduate Flexi-Options modules are expected to meet the entry requirements of the programme that the module is part of. Contact the Graduate Studies Office for an application form.

Flexi-Options closing dates

The closing dates for application for flexi-options are as follows:

Semester one modules: 30 August

Semester two modules: 30 November

Women's Studies

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