MSt in Women's Studies

This nine-month interdisciplinary Master's degree equips students with the critical and research tools needed for women's studies in the humanities. It provides a systematic introduction to feminist theory, highlighting women's contribution to culture and history alongside critical analysis and theorisation of the meanings assigned to the category 'woman' in philosophical, literary, socio-cultural, and historical thought. It also provides the practical equipment necessary to engage in original research into topics in the humanities relating to women and to gender, in a university with unrivalled facilities for both traditional and computer-age researches. Teaching is delivered through close individual supervision, as well as a carefully designed programme of lectures and classes led by specialists from a wide variety of disciplines; hence it promotes collaborative work as well as the development of independent and original scholarship.

Students follow an intensive core course, combining introductions to feminist theory and to methodologies/methods of research. They take, and are examined (by coursework essay) on, two Options, drawn from a list of up to thirty covering a very wide range of topics. The Options allow deepening of skills acquired in a first degree or the development of new skills under specialist teaching, which can be further practised in the third assessed element of the course, a closely supervised Dissertation on a subject of the candidate's own choice.

Five faculties within Humanities contribute option choices and supervision expertise to the degree: English, History, Classics, Philosophy and Modern Languages. The programme does not normally involve departments within the Social Sciences.

Whilst students are pursuing the Women’s Studies course, they are also encouraged to go to lectures and seminars organised by individual faculties, which might help them to frame their immediate or future projects.

Course structure

Term 1

Theory and Approaches course. Theory: 2 lectures and one seminar each week. Approaches: 7 weekly seminars. Attendance is obligatory.

1 option from the Options List.

Term 2 A second option from the Options List.
Term 3 Dissertation

Course Content

The course on Theory and Approaches aims to provide familiarity with a wide range of theoretical issues raised by women's studies, mastery of research skills, and ability to use both traditional research aids and the aids being developed by information technology.

It is taught in Michaelmas (autumn) term. You will have a lecture and a seminar each week on Theory, and weekly seminars on Approaches to Research. The course is not itself formally assessed, but will inevitably inform and enrich your approaches to the material that you cover in your Option courses and in your Dissertation.

The Option courses offer you the opportunity to explore further areas familiar to you from your undergraduate degree experience or to branch out into a new field. You follow one Option in Michaelmas (autumn) term and one in Hilary (spring) term. For each option, you will typically meet with your Option tutor weekly or fortnightly and will produce a number of pieces of written work, one of which will then be worked up into an assessed essay of 6-7,000 words.


  • Option course: two essays of 6,000-7,000 words each.
  • Dissertation: 10,000 - 12,000 words.

Find out more

Admissions Pages

Course code: TS_VY1

Length: 9 months, full-time

Women's Studies Handbook 2019-20

Research environment

There is a tremendous wealth of scholarly and community activity in Women’s Studies at Oxford. You will benefit from exposure to a variety of forms of scholarship through a research seminar on Gender, Literature & Culture, and will have access to new initiatives enabled by the research programme Women and the Humanities, supported and funded by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities, and the network ‘What is “women’s writing”?’