MA in Women's Studies

Master of Arts (MA) in Women's Studies

Student Testimonial

"Because of the skills I gained in the UCC Women’s Studies MA, I am able to contribute to the realisation of women’s human rights in fora such as the European Court of Human Rights, the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, the Irish parliament and the European Union."

Meghan Doherty, graduate, MA in Women's Studies 2003-2004 (International Student)


Video  Introduction

Please watch Sandra McAvoy's video for further information on the course, on student experience and on the skills our graduates acquire

Introducing the MA in Women's Studies UCC

The MA in Women's Studies is available as one year full-time course or as a part-time course over two years.

The first UCC MA in  Women's Studies course ran in UCC in year 1991-1992.

The programme is offered under the auspices of the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences, with input from the School of Law.

 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.


Course Content

The September 2017 intake of MA in Women's Studies Students will take six modules (as described below).


WS6002 Feminist Theory (10 credits)

During the first semester, students study a range of texts that illustrate key historical and contemporary developments in feminist theory. They have an opprtunity to assess the contributions of specific theories to feminist debates around social and political change and to consider how differences (race, ethnicity, class, sexual identity, time, place, values etc.) inform theoretical positions.

Learning outcomes:

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

· Locate feminist theory within a broader framework of feminist debate around social and political change.

· Assess the contributions of specific theories to feminist debates around social and political change.

· Assess how differences (race, ethnicity, class, sexual identity, time, place, values etc.) inform theoretical


· Appreciate the impact gendered politics has on discourses of knowledge.

· Relate different theoretical positions to women's experiences.


Women and Society

These two  modules are taught in the second semester and focus on themes around Women and Society and both are taken in the second semester. The specific issues examined may vary from year to year, depending on who is involved in the teaching team. They may include all or some of the following: Women in Literature, in History and in Popular Culture; Motherhood; Women, Work and Family;  the Women's Movement; Women and Social Policy; Women and Politics; Gender Violence; Sexualities, Linguistics, Performance; Women and Religions; Women and Sport; and Women and the Law. Students may also have the opportunity to attend papers given by visiting speakers, members of UCC staff and postgraduates and to attend relevant conferences, cultural and political events.

Students also maintain a learning journal that is examined as an aspect of WS6005.


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

Learning outcomes:

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

· Explore themes which connect first and second wave feminism.

· Identify issues in contemporary society of particular relevance to the lives of women.

· Analyse and critically assess historical and contemporary interventions designed to address gender

inequality and present findings orally and in writing.

· Explore issues of gender in specific Irish and international documents.

· Apply a feminist analytical approach in research.


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

Learning outcomes:

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

· Apply interdisciplinary approaches to an analysis of how social, cultural and political practices and

mechanisms impact on women.

· Explore issues of gender in specific literary texts.

· Identify the strengths and limitations in existing scholarship in areas focused on.

· Apply feminist analyses to case studies relevant to women's experiences


Research Skills in Women's Studies  (WS6007 and WS6008) 

Students undertake two research skills modules. The first is taken in semester I and the second in semester 2.

They are designed to support students in acquiring the Women's Studies research skills needed to undertake an extended piece of research and writing. Seminars on methodologies provide theoretical understandings of the research process and enable students to develop practical research skills. Students will also undertake a supervised review of literature relevant to their chosen research topic.


WS6007 Research Skills in Women's Studies Part 1: Methodologies  (5credits)

Learning outcomes:

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

· Critically assess a range of feminist research methodologies

· Acquire the skills necessary to locate and assess a range of electronic and print research resources

· Enhance their oral and written presentation skills and write fully referenced and proof-read prose in

essays and dissertations.


WS6008 Research Skills in Women's Studies Part 2 (10 credits)

 Learning outcomes:

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

·Identify, critically assess and synthesise literature relevant to their research projects;

· Define and limit their research problems;

· Establish the research framework and methodologies appropriate to their dissertation topics;

· Prepare and deliver well crafted oral presentations.


WS6004 Dissertation (45 credits)

The process of approving dissertation topics is completed early in the second semester and students are assigned supervisors at this stage. The length of the dissertations should be in the region of 18,000-20,000 words. Students research and write their dissertations during the period May-September. During the second semester, however, as an aspect of the Research Skills module, they work on supervised literature reviews 

Learning outcomes:

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

· Establish effective strategies for researching a chosen topic.

· Critically evaluate previous research in their area.

· Engage in original research that involves collecting, evaluating and analysing research materials from a

range of primary and secondary sources.

· Apply appropriate feminist theories and methodologies.

· Produce appropriately referenced work of a high standard of scholarship.

· Contribute to knowledge in their chosen area.

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.

Application Procedure

Applications should be made through the Postgraduate Applications Centre.  The closing date for applications is set by the Postgraduate Admissions Office. Applications are now welcome for 2017.


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. 

We like to have a rounded picture of our applicants and we ask them to write an essay of about 1,000 words (details are on the applications site) and we ask them to come and meet us for a short interview.

Contact details:

Dr Chiara Bonfiglioli  E:

Assessment and Evaluation

There is a process of continuous assessment with a variety of methods used to assess students’ work: essays, seminar presentations, a literature review and a dissertation. Students also maintain a reflective journal and submit some entries for asessment


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.

Admission Requirements

  • Graduates with a good honours degree or its equivalent are eligible to apply for admission to the M.A.
  • People with relevant experience in areas such as community work, industry, or the professions are also invited to apply.


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. 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.)

Programme Duration and Time Commitment 2017-2018

Full-Time Students

For full-time students, the MA in Women's Studies is a one-year course.

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 7.00pmh to facilitate students with work and other commitments.

The reading, research and writing workload is appropriate to postgraduate requirements and students undertake directed and self-directed study.

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 the section of the webpage on conferences.)

During the winter and spring review weeks there is a specific focus on research and essay writing.

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.

Flexi-options students will also find that our core timetable runs from 5.00pm to 7.00pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and that they are welcome to attend relevant outings and conferences.

Graduate Flexi-Options

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

See details  of flexi-options  here and here


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 on +353 21 4903224 or email 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