About the course
The MSt in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies is a nine-month, interdisciplinary course designed to equip you with the critical and research tools needed for women’s, gender and sexuality studies in the humanities.
The course provides a systematic introduction to feminist theory and highlights 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, gender and sexuality, in a university with excellent facilities for both traditional and computer-age research. 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, promoting collaborative work as well as the development of independent and original scholarship.
You will follow an intensive core course, in the form of seminars combining introductions to feminist theory and to methodologies/methods of research. In addition to this, you will take two options, drawn from a list 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 your choice. Please note that not every optional subject may be on offer every year, depending in part on levels of student demand.
Five faculties within the Humanities Division contribute option choices and supervision expertise to the degree: the Faculties of English Language and Literature, History, Classics, Philosophy and Medieval and Modern Languages. The option courses available change from year to year, but the following list is indicative of the types of topics which may be offered:
- Feminist Perspectives on the Body
- Women’s Intellectual History from 1850 to the present
- Postcolonial Perspectives: Race and Gender in Brazil, Mozambique and Portugal
- Fiction in English, 1789 to the Present: Gender and Race
- 20th and 21st Century Theatre
- Feminism and/or Queer Theory
- Feminism and Silence
- Gender and Development
- Feminist and Queer Theologies
- Early “Feminisms”
- Women and Classics
- The Philosophy and Feminism of Simone de Beauvoir
- Writing Women in the Middle Ages
- Gendered Bodies in Visual Art and Culture
- Crossing fiction and theory: African women writers and African feminism in conversation
- Black Women in the Anglo-Atlantic World, 1600-1850
- Philosophy of birth – When the uterus enters the door, reason goes out the window
- ‘Friendship as a Way of life’: kinship and the nature of queerness
- The Sound of Black Feminist Thought
- Nahda: Literature, modernity and institution-building in the Arabic 19th Century
- Transgender Theory and Writing
- Writing Illness in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Literature.
The programme does not formally involve departments within the Social Sciences Division but draws on the expertise of social scientists.
Whilst you are pursuing the MSt in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies you are also encouraged to go to lectures and seminars organised by individual faculties, which might help you to frame your immediate or future projects.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Steering Committee for the MSt in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, in consultation with faculties in the Humanities Division, and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor or co-supervisor may be found outside the faculties in the Humanities Division.
The course is assessed by a dissertation to be submitted at the end of Trinity term. Each of the two option courses are examined by coursework essays, one to be submitted at the end of Hilary term, and one at the beginning of Trinity term.
Many of the students who complete this course proceed to doctoral degrees at Oxford and at other universities. Other graduate destinations include teaching, journalism, NGO work, and the civil service.
Changes to this course and your supervision
The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic (including Covid-19), epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.
Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.
Other courses you may wish to consider
If you're thinking about applying for this course, you may also wish to consider the courses listed below. These courses may have been suggested due to their similarity with this course, or because they are offered by the same department or faculty.
Courses suggested by the Humanities Division
If your interests lie particularly in History and women’s studies, you can also apply to the Women’s, Gender and Queer History strand of the Faculty of History’s MSt in History course, which introduces students to the latest research in these subjects and also provides a foundation for students’ independent research.
All interdisciplinary courses offered by the Humanities Division
Entry requirements for entry in 2023-24
Proven and potential academic excellence
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in any subject.
Whilst there is no restriction on the subject of the first degree, applicants should be able to demonstrate a clear and well-reasoned commitment to women's, gender, and sexuality studies.
Entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.75 out of 4.0.
If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.
GRE General Test scores
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience
Publications are not expected.
For progression from the taught MSt to a research degree, the five participating faculties (Classics, English Language and Literature, History, Medieval and Modern Languages and Philosophy) accept the MSt in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies as equivalent to their respective MSt degrees, though there is no automatic right to acceptance and some faculties demand a distinction in the MSt dissertation. In the case of the Faculty of Philosophy, applications by students who have completed the MSt will be considered for both the BPhil and the DPhil programmes on a case-by-case basis. It is the responsibility of students applying to other faculties within Oxford to clarify any conditions for progression which these faculties may impose.
English language proficiency
This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.
|Test||Minimum overall score||Minimum score per component|
|IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713)||7.5||7.0|
TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'
(Institution code: 0490)
*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
†Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)
Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.
Declaring extenuating circumstances
If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.
You will need to register three referees who can give an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for the course. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the types of reference that are required in support of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including an official transcript and a CV/résumé. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the supporting documents that are required as part of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview
Interviews are not held as part of the admissions process.
How your application is assessed
Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements published under that heading. References and supporting documents submitted as part of your application, and your performance at interview (if interviews are held) will be considered as part of the assessment process.
An overview of the shortlisting and selection process is provided below. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about how applications are assessed.
Shortlisting and selection
Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, sexual orientation, as well as other relevant circumstances including parental or caring responsibilities or social background. However, please note the following:
- socio-economic information may be taken into account in the selection of applicants and award of scholarships for courses that are part of the University’s pilot selection procedure and for scholarships aimed at under-represented groups;
- country of ordinary residence may be taken into account in the awarding of certain scholarships; and
- protected characteristics may be taken into account during shortlisting for interview or the award of scholarships where the University has approved a positive action case under the Equality Act 2010.
Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
Processing your data for shortlisting and selection
Admissions panels and assessors
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
Other factors governing whether places can be offered
The following factors will also govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the About section of this page;
- the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
- minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.
Offer conditions for successful applications
If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our After you apply pages provide more information about offers and conditions.
In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also be required to meet the following requirements:
If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.
Disclosure of criminal convictions
In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.
There is a tremendous wealth of scholarly and community activity in women's, gender, and sexuality studies at Oxford. You will benefit from exposure to a variety of forms of scholarship through a research seminar on feminist thinking, and will have access to new initiatives enabled by the research programme Women in the Humanities (WiH), supported and funded by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH).
The International Gender Studies Centre hosts a range of talks, workshops and events, as well as playing a part in the annual Oxford International Women’s Festival.
Further opportunities for exchange are provided by the interdisciplinary communities fostered within individual colleges. The Oxford Centre for Research in the Humanities (TORCH) offers a stimulating range of interdisciplinary activities.
Graduates in Oxford have access to over a hundred libraries. The University's core research resource in the Humanities are the Bodleian Libraries, whose combined collections contain more than 11 million printed items, in addition to more than 50,000 e-journals and a vast quantity of manuscripts, maps, music and other materials.
The Bodleian Library has been a library of legal deposit for 400 years. In addition, each faculty and college has a lending library (and reference collection of periodicals). Alongside the resources of individual subject libraries, the Taylor Institution has a special section dedicated to women’s studies.
The University expects to be able to offer around 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2023-24. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant December or January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential.
For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources.
Please ensure that you visit individual college websites for details of any college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages or below:
Please note that not all the colleges listed above may accept students on this course. For details of those which do, please refer to the College preference section of this page.
Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the Humanities division website.
Annual fees for entry in 2023-24
Annual Course fees
Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.
Information about course fees
Course fees are payable each year, for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on changes to fees and charges.
Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.
There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees and living costs. However, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Please note that, depending on your choice of topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.
In addition to your course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.
For the 2023-24 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,290 and £1,840 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our living costs page. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2023-24, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of 5% or more each year – although this rate may vary significantly depending on how the national economic situation develops. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.
All graduate students at Oxford belong to a department or faculty and a college or hall (except those taking non-matriculated courses). If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. The Colleges section of this website provides information about the college system at Oxford, as well as factors you may wish to consider when deciding whether to express a college preference. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 45 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as Permanent Private Halls (PPHs).
For some courses, the department or faculty may have provided some additional advice below to help you to decide. Whatever you decide, it won’t affect how the academic department assesses your application and whether they decide to make you an offer. If your department makes you an offer of a place, you’re guaranteed a place at one of our colleges.
The following colleges accept students on the MSt in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies:
Before you apply
Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide. We recommend that you submit your application well in advance - two or three weeks earlier.
Application fee waivers
An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:
- applicants from low-income countries;
- refugees and displaced persons;
- UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and
- applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.
You are encouraged to check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver before you apply.
Contacting the department
You do not need to make contact with the department before you apply but you are encouraged to visit the relevant departmental webpages to read any further information about your chosen course.
Completing your application
You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents. If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.
Three overall, academic preferred
Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.
References should generally be academic. However, if you have been out of full-time study for a period of two years or more, one of the references submitted may be a professional rather than an academic reference.
Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation and your ability to work in a group.
Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.
More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.
A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.
Statement of purpose/personal statement:
A maximum of 700 words
Your statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in.
The statement should be written with reference to the specific nature of this MSt and, if possible, its course structure and options.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
The statement will be assessed with reference to:
- your reasons for applying
- the coherence of the statement
- evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
- the ability to present a reasoned case in English
- commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
- preliminary knowledge of research techniques.
It is highly desirable to indicate the likely area that your dissertation will cover. It will be normal for your ideas subsequently to change in some ways as you investigate the evidence and develop your project. You should nevertheless make the best effort you can to demonstrate the extent of your research question, sources and method at this moment.
Your statement should focus on your academic qualities rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations (though interests relevant to the course should be included).
Two essays of a maximum of 2,000 words each or one essay of a maximum of 4,000 words
Academic essays or other writing samples from your most recent qualification, written in English, are required. Clearly-highlighted extracts of the requisite length from longer work are also permissible, prefaced by a note placing the extract in a larger context.
Written work should relate closely to the proposed area of study. The word count does not need to include any bibliography or brief footnotes.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
This will be assessed for critical understanding of issues relevant or transferable to the subject area; ability to construct an defend an argument; powers of analysis; and powers of expression.
Instructions for submitting one long piece of work instead of two short pieces
To submit one longer piece of work in your application instead of two shorter pieces, you should upload this document in the first 'Written work' slot on the 'Supporting Documents' tab of the Application Form. In the second 'Written work' slot, you should upload a PDF document with the following statement:
'I have included one long essay in lieu of two short essays. I have checked the course page to confirm this is permitted for this course.'