MA-Diploma-Certificate Women's Studies

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  • Entry requirements
    Entry Anyone with a first degree or equivalent in any subject may apply. We also welcome applications from anyone over 25 who can demonstrate from life experiences their suitability for the programme and give some evidence of ability to study at this level.
  • Academic title
    MA/Diploma/Certificate Women's Studies
  • Course description
    Women’s Studies is in many ways a unique subject which is ideally suited to the interests of mature students. It attempts to challenge traditional structures of knowledge about gender and also, the usual ways in which we learn. Women’s Studies draws on many disciplines, including sociology, literature, history, psychology and politics, and is accessible to students whose previous academic backgrounds are in any area. Students are encouraged to reflect on their own life experiences and combine this with theoretical insights that cross discipline boundaries.

    Women’s Studies involves intellectual discussion of a wide range of issues that impact directly on women’s lives today. It has relevance to those working in a wide range of sectors who wish to understand more about gender relations in society and who also want to acquire up-to date academic skills and qualifications. Women’s Studies recognises the value of women’s personal lived experiences, and the skills and awareness learned through everyday social interaction, and believes in listening to what women themselves have to say about their own lives.

    Women’s Studies has been taught at Bangor since 1994 and is currently the only course of its kind in Wales. Over the last decade women from across North Wales and from many walks of life have studied on this course. It has a reputation for being both intellectually stimulating and practically relevant. Recent dissertations have been on topics as diverse as women in local politics, the experiences of young gay people in North Wales, a feminist analysis of embroidery, a study of Ruth Ellis and the portrayal of women in Hitchcock’s films!

    The degree is located within Lifelong Learning but the teaching staff come from departments across the university and represents a wide range of academic interests. Lifelong Learning has as its core mission the aim of making part-time study available to all. All our students are adults and study part-time alongside other responsibilities so as staff we are very familiar with the pressures and problems that can arise.

    The course we teach covers the established areas of Women’s Studies content, theory and method but also has a distinct Welsh flavour reflecting the interests and expertise of staff, so, for instance there is a module on Welsh women’s history, and modules on work, education and literature will focus on Welsh issues as well as wider British and global perspectives. We feel that our course gives students a strong grounding in Women’s Studies but with a particular Welsh dimension.
    Structure of the Course

    The course consists of six modules. The three compulsory ones are:

        * Gender, Equality and Diversity (30 credits)
        * Theory into Action (30 credits)
        * Research Methods (20 Credits)

    There are also a range of optional modules from which students choose two.

    In order to achieve a postgraduate certificate (60 credits), students must complete the first 2 core modules; this will normally be done in one year of part-time study. For a postgraduate diploma (120 credits), students complete the three core modules and two optional ones, normally over two years. To gain a masters’ degree, students must pass the diploma and also produce a dissertation of 15,000- 20,000 words (60 credits). This is normally done in the third year of study.

    Studying Individual Modules

    Please note that students may opt to enrol on single modules, the two certificate modules or the whole degree. The module on gender, equality and diversity in particular is one that many will find relevant to their work, which people may wish to follow without necessarily following the complete degree.


    The three compulsory modules are:

        * Gender, Equality and Diversity
          This module introduces students to a wide range of issues relevant to women, and has both a theoretical and an experiential focus. The approach adopted is a critical one and will begin to outline and develop a feminist understanding of the issues of gender, equality and diversity in a range of contexts such as health, housing and education. The emphasis will be on contemporary issues but an historical perspective will also be provided, especially in relation to lived experience and policy development.
        * Theory into Action
          A range of feminist theories will be studied here, and we will also explore the relationship between feminist theory and feminist actions. A wide range of feminist theories will be considered and their application in a number of subject areas.
        * Research Methods
          In this module students will discuss issues of feminist research theory and practice, both in preparation for undertaking a research project of their own and in order to engage with questions of methodology, ethics and data management that arise in undertaking research from a feminist perspective.

    Optional modules include the following, but are liable to change from year to year:

        * Women, Crime and Deviance
          The focus of this module is on women who are considered to be deviant, and/or who commit crime and suffer punishment.
        * Women and Literature
          The study of a range of nineteenth and twentieth century authors, including the work of Charlotte Bronte, Emily Dickinson, Virginia Woolf, Adrienne Rich, Angela Carter, Brenda Chamberlain and Toni Morrison.
        * Welsh Women’s History
          This module will provide an overview of economic, social and political change in Wales during the nineteenth and twentieth century. It will look at women’s work patterns, family life, domestic roles, the suffrage movement, welfare reforms, the impact of wars, the role of the women’s movement and popular protest – from the Hunger Marches to Greenham Common.
        * Women, Film and Popular Culture
          A wide-ranging module that looks at the visual representation of women in a range of visual and popular media. There is a particular emphasis on films about women.
        * Gender and Education
          In this module one focus will be on the gendered nature of the experience of children and young people in schools, and also on the experience of adults of all ages engaged in other forms of learning. A second focus will be on the role of the education system in promoting and sustaining gender differences in society
        * Women, Work and Community
          An analysis of the experiences of women and work and their place within communities.

    Our Students

    Students are accepted onto the course with degrees in any subject which may have been obtained at any time in the past, or who have other relevant experience. The majority of our students are in full-time work, and the course is designed to fit in with work and other commitments. Our students range in age from mid-twenties to early seventies and come from all walks of life.

    The MA and Careers

    Although many of our students enrol on the MA primarily for reasons of personal interest, it is also a valuable qualification for career development for many. Topics such as women’s experience in the workplace, equal opportunities, gender differences, and women’s mental and physical health are important and relevant issues for women in many walks of life. Students also develop valuable and up-to-date transferable skills in research, information gathering and writing. A large proportion of our students carry out dissertations in areas directly related to their field of work, and may be supported financially by their employers.

    Teaching Arrangements

    Each dissertation is taught over one term, with most modules being taught on one evening a week for 10 weeks. There are six taught modules in all, and the 20,000 word dissertation is then completed over a one to two year period. In addition we hold Saturday day schools in November and March to which we generally invite guest speakers. At the end of the academic year we have a residential school (lasting approximately two days), probably the highlight of the year for the course.

    The Teaching Team

    The current teaching team includes the following members of staff:

    Shan Ashton is a lecturer in Community Development and Sociology in the School of Lifelong Learning. She teaches on modules on women and work and women and community and has published on women in rural Wales.

    Sandra Betts is a lecturer in Sociology in the School of Social Sciences. She has researched and published widely on gender issues over the last twenty years. She contributes to several modules on the MA.

    Kathy Hopewell is responsible for modules on literature and popular culture and coordinates the compulsory module on research methods. Her research interests are in literature and she has recently completed a study of the author HD (Hilda Doolittle). Kathy also teaches for the School of Lifelong Learning on the part-time degree in Literature and Creative Writing.

    Pam Michael is lecturer in Social Policy and Health Studies in the School of Social Sciences. Her research interests are in Welsh women’s history, the history of social policy, and health and mental illness in Wales, and she recently published a study on the care and treatment of the mentally ill in North Wales, 1800-2000. She teaches a module on Welsh women’s history, and contributes to other modules on the MA.

    Jenny Parry is a criminologist who teaches on women and crime and women and disability on the MA. Her research interests are related to disabled people and imprisonment, and she has recently published an Information Booklet for Disabled Prisoners with HM Prison Service and the Prison Reform Trust. Jenny also wrote the chapter on Disability in Prison for the annual Prisons Handbook.

    Brec’hed Piette is head of the School of Lifelong Learning. She teaches on feminist psychology, and gender and education on the degree. She has research interests in lifelong learning and social exclusion, and in issues around language and gender in Wales.

    Other members of university staff, and speakers from outside bodies also contribute to teaching on the MA.

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