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Gender Studies Subject Guide

Thinking about studying gender studies at postgraduate level? This subject is a great progression to postgraduate study for students of various backgrounds, from English literature to law, media studies or sociology. 

You might be wondering whether studying a degree in gender studies will help you move into certain careers, what you could learn during your course, what the entry requirements are, or where you could study. 

This handy guide has all the information you’ll need to answer those questions. So, read on to find out more about degrees in this subject, and how studying it could help you access a range of gender studies jobs. 


Why do a gender studies degree? 

Gender studies is an ever relevant and increasingly important specialism within the fields of social sciences and humanities, drawing on both to form an interesting interdisciplinary field. It’s relevant to students and professionals across law, politics, sociology, media and more, informing all of us about how gender, sexuality and our conceptions of them affects our lives and shapes society. 

Students are draw to this subject through a passion for the subject and a desire to understand, and address, some of the pressing issues facing us today. It’s particularly suited to learners who want to grapple with multifaceted, complex topics, conduct research and develop their own unique ideas.  

Gender studies also prepares students for a diverse range of professional options after graduation, with a broad set of transferable skills and widely relevant knowledge base setting them up for careers across a number of industries and sectors. 

What qualifications can you get? 

There are several types of qualifications available to students who are pursuing a gender studies course. 

The postgraduate certificate and postgraduate diplomas are short courses, both lasting less than one full academic year, which are ideal for students—normally from social science, humanities or law backgrounds – who are looking to add expertise in this area. 

Full master’s degrees, like the MA, MSc or LLM, combine lectures, classroom and seminar learning, coursework and independent study to create a comprehensive taught programme in gender studies, potentially with a focus on a certain niche within the field. 

Research qualifications, like the MRes, MPhil or PhD, allow students to utilise their knowledge and skills to train as professional researchers, developing their own ideas and generating knew knowledge and tools which can be used by academics or practitioners to further progress in the field. 

What jobs can you do with a gender studies degree? 

Gaining a postgraduate degree in gender studies opens a wide range of professional options to successful graduates. It’s a broad subject that draws on many interdisciplinary elements of humanities and social sciences, giving you a broad range of knowledge and varied professional skills that you can draw on to succeed after your studies. 

You might consider roles such as: 

  • Gender studies researcher 
  • Sociologist 
  • Journalist 
  • Lawyer 
  • Writer 
  • Editor 
  • Teacher 
  • HR manager 
  • Policy analyst 
  • Policymaker 
  • Human rights advocate 

The total range of your professional prospects goes far beyond this list, however, as studying gender studies will equip you with the cross-cutting knowledge and soft skills needed to work in a wide range of administrative, managerial, policy, media roles – and more. 

What are the gender studies degree entry requirements? 

Typically, you’ll need at least a 2:2 at undergraduate honours level to successfully apply for a postgraduate degree in gender studies. Your first degree will usually need to be within the social sciences or humanities. Coming from a different academic background may be possible if you have significant, relevant professional experience. 

What gender studies courses are there? 

There’s a wide variety of degrees in gender studies for you to choose from at postgraduate level, including courses like: 

  • MA Gender Studies 
  • MA Gender and Politics 
  • MSc Gender History 
  • MSc Sex, Gender and Sexualities 
  • PhD Gender Studies 

What topics does a gender studies degree cover? 

Each gender studies offers a unique study pathway through a mix of compulsory, core modules, and in some cases a range of optional modules to select from. However, you could expect to study topics such as: 

  • Theorising gender 
  • Gender, peace and security 
  • Consensus and dissent: contemporary debates in gender studies 
  • Histories of sexuality 
  • Trans/scending gender 

What do you learn in a gender studies degree? 

During your gender studies degree, you’ll develop a range of functional skills and in-depth knowledge of the theory and debates of gender studies. Students learn about gender and how it intersects with a range of other social, cultural and demographic factors such as sexuality, socioeconomic class, race or ethnicity, and more. 

You’ll also learn how to identify an issue, analyse information and arguments relating to it, conduct research, present your own opinions or arguments, and communicate it in a compelling manner, both in writing and orally. 

Identifying issues, before envisioning and articulating solutions, is another core capability that students of gender studies will develop. Through a deep awareness of the links between gender identity, sexual orientation, and society, and how they change constantly, students will be prepared to help drive personal, organisational and societal progress in these areas. 

How will you be taught and assessed? 

Degrees in gender studies are normally taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, small group discussions, and self-guided study. Students will consolidate their learning through essays, presentations, group or individual project work, and tutor sessions. 

Assessment is usually through coursework, which could be in the form of written essays, oral presentations or reports. In some cases, exams are also part of course assessment. 

How long is a gender studies degree? 

You’ll find that gender studies degrees vary in length depending on their level of study. A postgraduate certificate or diploma will last one or two semesters, respectively, while a full master’s degree will last a year. Studying a PhD in gender studies can take up to four years full time. 

Studying part-time will generally take twice as long as full-time study but may be even longer in some cases, such as online study. 

Where can you study gender studies? 

Gender studies courses are on offer at more than 30 different universities around the UK, with over 85 study programmes to choose from. You can use the PGS university search tool to efficiently browse your different options, get information on courses, and find your perfect programme. 

What similar subjects are there to gender studies? 

There are a number of subjects which may appeal to students considering gender studies at postgraduate level, such as: 

  • Geography 
  • Sociology 
  • Psychology 
  • Law 
  • Politics 

Next: Search for gender studies courses


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