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MPhil Course Details

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.

1. Gender Theory and Controversy

This survey course of lectures introduces key areas of contemporary gender theory. It gives students the chance to analyse why gender scholars (or other relevant thinkers) disagree and what it is they disagree about. There is an emphasis on fostering students' abilities to critically assess the ontological and epistemological assumptions characteristic of different theoretical approaches and to critically evaluate their empirical research potential.

2. Gender Studies Research Methodologies

This course is designed to prepare students for primary research. The course includes general methods sessions on for example, research design; the collection, management and analysis of data (quantitative and qualitative); and research ethics and how to present research in dissertation form. Additionally, students are taught to critically evaluate various research methods and to compare the value of different methodological techniques and approaches to gender analysis.

There are 2 main components:

  1. Social Science Research Methods (SSRM) modules taught centrally within the University.
  2. Research Methodologies sessions conducted within the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies, including individual guidance on each of the student's research projects.

3. Text Seminars Course

This highly innovative course aims to scrutinise a series of primary texts with Centre staff and 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.

4. 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 late 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 Graduate Studies 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. 

1. Coursework

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.

2. 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.