Postgraduate Course

MA Gender and Sexuality Studies

MA Gender and Sexuality Studies


The details
Gender and Sexuality Studies
October 2024
1 year
Colchester Campus

Our MA in Gender and Sexuality Studies is an innovative, interdisciplinary programme located in the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies (PPS). Our approach is highly interdisciplinary and intersectional, combining elements of sociology, psychology, literature, history, politics, human rights, philosophy, and art. On this course, you will gain a strong grounding in the theories and concepts that have been essential to the study of gender and sexuality while also being supported in the exploration of your own unique cross-disciplinary research interests through our wide range of optional modules from across the University.

In PPS we value the fact that your choice of study is often deeply motivated by your life experience as well future ambitions -- this is perhaps especially the case with Gender and Sexuality studies. Our expertise in psychosocial approaches means that, in studying with us, you will be encouraged to recognise and explore the many ways that issues relating to gender and sexuality bring together personal, social, and political questions (for example, questions of identity and subjectivity, equality and justice, history and global politics). You will learn from scholars whose current research projects demonstrate their own interests and commitments in the field; our specialisms include intersectional feminist theory and methods; LGBTQ+ politics and activism; gendered childhoods; masculinities and youth work; sexuality and health activism; global perspectives on reproductive justice; human rights and refugee communities.

You will also learn from your peers and the wider community. In PPS, we are explicit in our commitment to trans-inclusivity and to ensuring a learning environment in which everyone can flourish. We will offer you a transformative educational experience that will deepen your understanding of gender, sexuality and equality as well as empower you to contribute to future social and cultural challenges.

Throughout the course, you will have the opportunity to develop your understanding of key sites of psychosocial life, including:

  • Gender
  • Sexuality
  • Identity
  • Race
  • Class
  • Family
  • Work
  • Psychology
  • Environment
  • Normativity
  • Objectivity
  • Nation
  • Capital
  • Colonialism
  • Violence
  • Politics
  • Health

Why we're great.
  • You'll be taught by internationally renowned scholars and teachers, committed to helping you understand how social, historical and psychological factors shape the experience of gender
  • You'll be joining a diverse postgraduate community with students from over 29 countries
  • You'll learn a range of transferrable skills, theories, and methods that will transform your personal and professional life beyond the university

Our expert staff

The University of Essex has a long and luminous tradition as one of the pioneering universities for the study of gender and sexuality. Recognizing this, we draw from the wide range of expertise from scholars across the university and combine it with a unique focus on ‘psychosocial' life. In this way, our staff support a unique, interdisciplinary degree that works across sociology, psychology, and the humanities.

The Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies is internationally recognised as one of the leading departments in its field. Our expertise in psychosocial approaches combined with our strengths in psychoanalysis and depth psychology provides a vibrant intellectual backdrop for students of Gender and Sexuality Studies to pursue research that is underpinned by a commitment to thinking the social and the personal together.

Being part of a leading university in the study of social sciences means you are surrounded by strong departments that fully support and enhance our work. This allows you to gain the opportunity to work with and be taught by world-class scholars in their fields.

Specialist facilities

As a student on the MA in Gender and Sexuality Studies, you will have access to our extensive facilities to aid your learning and research. In particular, our Albert Sloman Library is well stocked with books, journals, electronic resources and major archives relevant to our work and, in addition, the department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies has its own library of specialist books and journals.

The Department holds free evening Open Seminars on a range of interesting topics and there are a number of active student societies to support your extra-curricular engagement. Elsewhere in the University, the Centre for Sexual and Intimate Citizenship, directed by Professor Roisin Ryan-Flood (Sociology), hosts a bi-monthly lunchtime speaker series and reading group on a wide-range of topics in gender and sexuality studies; and the Human Rights Centre (Essex Law School) holds a regular speaker series with expert academics and related social events.

Your future

You will develop key employability skills including analytical thinking, public speaking, research methods, and professional writing that are applicable to many professional spheres. Our MA Gender and Sexuality Studies course will equip you for a career in sectors including activist and NGO work; law; health and social care; education; and clinical work. This course also acts as a stepping stone to further PhD study

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A 2:2 degree or international equivalent.

With your online application you must submit a personal statement; this should detail the reasons for wanting to study the course, including any relevant experience (work or voluntary) that may support your application.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please contact our Graduate Admissions team at to request the entry requirements for this country.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, we require IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5 in all components.

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.


Course structure

If you study MA Gender and Sexuality Studies part-time you will typically do 60 credits in the first year, including Foundations in Gender and Sexuality Studies (30 credits). In your second year you will typically do 120 credits including Research Methods and Dissertation (60 credits). You will receive personalised guidance from tutors about optional modules, tailored to your interests, and when these optional modules will be taken.

We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We'll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website and in line with your contract with us. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, we'll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.

Components and modules explained


Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

Status What this means
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.


Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

HR 100  4  FY

The department or school the module will be taught by.

In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

The module number. 

The UK academic level of the module.

A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

The term the module will be taught in.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms


Research Methods and Dissertation

What interests you? Do you want to deepen your knowledge, build invaluable research skills and develop your academic freedom? Your dissertation lets you study a topic of your choosing, in depth, with supervision and guidance from our world-leading academics.

View Research Methods and Dissertation on our Module Directory


Foundations in Gender and Sexuality Studies

This module seeks to ground students in the interdisciplinary theories that have been essential to feminist theory, queer theory, and the study of gender and sexuality more broadly. In this respect, the course proceeds both thematically and chronologically, covering some of the 'canonical' feminist and queer interventions and methods, such as rights-based liberal feminism; radical feminism; Black feminism; Marxist feminism; standpoint epistemology; transnational feminism; ecofeminism; intersectionality; AIDS & LGBT activism; queer theory; and trans studies. But, by approaching these texts through contemporary and transportable concepts (like 'borders', 'pandemics', 'mothers,' 'environments', and 'the gaze') we will emphasize the enduring relevance of these foundational texts for making sense of current social experiences and cultural objects.

View Foundations in Gender and Sexuality Studies on our Module Directory


The Psychic Life of Gender

This module introduces students to some of the ways in which psychoanalytic thought has animated different feminist, trans, and queer accounts of gender since Freud’s time of writing. We will avoid a polarised presentation of psychoanalysis as either friend or foe to progressive accounts of gender, but rather commit to investigating how psychoanalysis – both as theory and as praxis – can productively disrupt our stable knowledge economies, and lend itself to encounters with gender that feature resistance, interruption, revelation, and impasse.

View The Psychic Life of Gender on our Module Directory


Topics in Critical Race and Transnational Feminisms

This module covers special topics in critical race and transnational feminisms. The module prioritizes an intersectional focus on race, gender, and class, exploring how these three identity coordinates are at work in key sites and locations. For instance, we consider race and the management of women's bodies; feminist and anti-colonial pedagogies; race, class, and gender in the carceral system; the nature of women's reproductive labor and women's work in a globalized context; and the racial and gendered politics of protest. The module also includes a mid-term field trip to an art exhibition to consider the politics of art and representation.

View Topics in Critical Race and Transnational Feminisms on our Module Directory


Gender, Race, Identity and Human Rights

Address key challenges for human rights across the developed and developing worlds. So-called identity politicking has emerged in the past 40 years as a prominent and deeply controversial phenomenon within most societies. It is undeniably true that many human rights violations specifically target groups perceived and ascribed identities. We inhabit societies where intolerance of difference and diversity have become key challenges for the defence of human rights and the pursuit of social justice. The response to this has often involved targeted communities seeking protection from rights-based mechanisms. There exist many instruments within international human rights law that seek to protect and promote distinct communities of people. However, the rights-based approach to identity politicking raises many, difficult to answer, questions concerning the compatibility of rights-based approaches and identity-based politics.

View Gender, Race, Identity and Human Rights on our Module Directory


Option(s) from list


Option from list


  • Postgraduate students in the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies typically have 2 hours of contact time for each module per week. This consists of a two-hour seminar or workshop, or a one-hour lecture and a one-hour seminar.


  • You develop a dissertation of 12,000 words, in which you define and research into an area of special interest to you
  • We provide you with advice and guidance on researching and writing your dissertation
  • Your dissertation is submitted mid-September in your final year of study

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee


International fee


What's next

Open Days

We hold Open Days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

2024 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday 21 September 2024 - September Open Day
  • Saturday 26 October 2024 - October Open Day


You can apply for this postgraduate course online. Before you apply, please check our information about necessary documents that we'll ask you to provide as part of your application.

We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

For information on our deadline to apply for this course, please see our ‘how to apply' information.

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Visit Colchester Campus

Set within 200 acres of award-winning parkland - Wivenhoe Park and located two miles from the historic city centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded development. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

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Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.

Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

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