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University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies


Course aims

The course aims to provide students with the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to:

  1. use a range of methods for gathering, analysing and interpreting research material.
  2. apply normative theories to substantive research topics.
  3. frame research questions, to construct appropriate research designs and develop a thorough grasp of a wide range of methodological approaches.
  4. interpret complex research publications effectively.
  5. independently manage primary research, including data management and the writing up of research as well as understanding codes of research practice and research ethics.
  6. present research and also to make use of constructive criticism.

Course structure

The MPhil in Multi-disciplinary Gender Studies is a research-oriented course which runs for 9 months, with a substantial taught component.  In the first two terms students will follow three mandatory courses.

Theory, Controversy and Methodology (MGS1)

Theory, Controversy and Methodology is organised as a set of lectures that will focus on examples of key thinkers. The lectures will be followed by seminars organised around group discussion of texts that either draw methodologically on the approaches portrayed in the lectures, or texts that critique them. In this way, and across the course, the aim is for students to see how ideas travel through texts, theoretical debates and disciplines enabling development of innovative approaches.

Gender and Methods (MGS2)

Gender and Methods provides students with practical training for their dissertation research. This element of the course is organised as a combination of both internal and centrally run methods sessions tailored to research interests and culminates in student presentations to peers and academic staff.

Multi-disciplinary Text Seminars (MGS3)

The Multi-disciplinary Text Seminars centre around the scrutiny and discussion of key texts under the guidance of academic experts from up to 25 departments and faculties across the Arts, Humanities, (Natural) Sciences and Social Sciences within the University of Cambridge. Students will be introduced to the variety of ways in which gender analysis can be applied to the study of a very wide range of topics. 

Gender Research Seminar

In addition to the three core courses above, the Multi-disciplinary Gender Research Seminar will convene at least four times a term Michaelmas (Autumn) and Lent (Spring) only. The purpose of this seminar series is to present front-line research in the multi-disciplinary study of Gender by senior scholars within and beyond Cambridge, as well as by junior academics, post-doctoral research fellows and advanced graduate students. These seminars will also be a compulsory component of the MPhil.

The Research Dissertation

The research dissertation will be completed over the third term and Summer vacation and submitted in early June. It will be of no more than 20,000 words in length on any Gender Studies related subject approved by the dissertation supervisor, the course coordinators and the Postgraduate Education Committee. The dissertation is viewed as a major aspect of the course and will count for 70% of the final MPhil mark. It is also a primary aspect of evaluation for those students who intend to progress to a PhD.

Dissertation workshops will provide the opportunity to present aspects of dissertation work and to receive constructive critical feed-back from course academics and fellow students. Student presentations are expected to demonstrate a substantial level of knowledge and understanding of the intellectual and methodological debates relevant to the specific topic undertaken. They must also demonstrate an effective research design, appropriate research methods, and illustrate skills of presentation and argument.

Examination requirements

All elements of the MPhil - unsupervised coursework and a supervised research dissertation - must be passed in order for the degree to be obtained. Each component must gain 60% or above to pass. 75% and above will be marked as a distinction. 


Two unsupervised 5,000 word essays. Each essay will count for 15% of the final mark. Essay topics will be selected from a list of titles relating to subjects covered in the core courses.

The Research Dissertation

Students will work under the supervision of a Cambridge University academic on their research dissertation. Dissertations will be of not more than 20,000 words and will count for 70% of the final mark.