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Graduate Study

PhD Programme

We have a vibrant PhD programme in Gender, Culture & Society which includes a PhD Forum, Seminar Series and the option of following a structured PhD programme.
The Gender, Culture & Society @UL Postgraduate Forum is open to PhD students pursuing feminist or gender-related research in any discipline. It is a facilitated group and includes discussions of key theorists, talks from recent PhDs and experts in writing and publication, as well as support with the practical issues relating to postgraduate research and career planning.

MA in Gender, Culture & Society: Overview

Our MA programme in Gender, Culture & Society has been designed specifically to cater for students interested in the interdisciplinary study of gender in culture and society. Students can opt for modules offered by several departments in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and may choose to specialise in historical, socio-political or literary / cultural approaches to gender.

Master of Arts In Gender Culture and Society@UL

The programme aims to:

  • Provide an in-depth interdiscipinary knowledge of historical and contemporary gender formations
  • Develop theoretical, analytical and methodological skills for understanding gender, culture and society transnationally as well as in global and local contexts
  • Offer close supervision in the development and completion of a small research project
  • To provide students with the opportunity for independent self-directed learning
  • Expose students to the lively research culture on gender and sexuality in the Gender, Culture & Society programme at UL (see: and via our collaboration with colleagues at National University Galway in the Advanced Research Consortium on Gender - Gender ARC (see:

Modules offered include:

SO6021: Theoretical Approaches to Gender, Culture and Society I
This course will review and critically examine the main theoretical approaches to gender, sexuality and the position of women and men in society, starting in the late eighteenth century, but concentrating on the period from the 1970s onwards. The module will analyse theories about the social and cultural construction of gendered identities, their origin, maintenance and representation. It will pay attention to intersectionality, the connection between gender and other identity markers like age, ethnicity, race, ability, sexuality, class etc. Of central importance is the practical application of different theoretical positions to specific topics like gender and employment, gender and childhood, gender and the body, gender and nationalism, gender and the media, gender and the family.

EH6032 : Theoretical Approaches to Gender, Culture and Society II
This course will build on the knowledge of feminist, gender and queer theory students will have acquired in the module ‘Theoretical Approaches to Gender, Culture and Society I’. Specifically, it will be shown how different scholars have used these theoretical concepts and methods to study topics like family, work, technological change, mass and consumer culture and globalization. The module will also analyse theories about the social and cultural construction of gendered identities, their origin, maintenance and representation. It will pay attention to intersectionality, the connection between gender and other identity markers like age, ethnicity, race, ability, sexuality, class etc.

SO6031: Feminist Approaches to Research
This 3 credit module will enable students to bring feminist critiques of knowledge and methodology to their research and writing up the dissertation. Students will address questions such as: What have feminist theorists to say about objectivity and truth/ the distinction between knower and known/ self and other/ mind and body/ subject and object? How might we understand culture and society differently if we incorporate reproduction, bodily work, and intimate relations in our research? What might be the limits of ‘feminist standpoint’, the idea that women, as a subordinated group, are in a better position to arrive at an adequate representation of social reality than men? What kinds of questions guide feminist research? How do feminist researchers approach the objects of their research? What is the relationship between the object of research and the feminist researcher?

CU6032: Thesis Writing
This 3- credit module on thesis-writing focuses on structural, rhetorical, and strategic issues. The thesis as the point of order is examined, as is the question of how order in sections and subsections either interrupt or serve to unify the overall text. Academic rigor and stylistic appropriacy is examined in terms of the social and rhetorical contexts. Individuals’ writing strategies are examined and evaluated to determine their effectiveness. New strategies are explored.​

Students are required to take four core modules and four optional modules in a combination of lectures and seminar discussion. An additional and substantial research element includes: Assessed course research papers; and a dissertation of 15,000 words written on a topic of choice under the guidance of an appropriate supervisor. The MA may be completed on a full-time basis over one year or on a part-time basis over two years.

Semester 1

  • Theoretical Approaches to Gender, Culture and Society I
  • Feminist Approaches to Research

Students must choose two modules among the following:

  • Qualitative Methods I
  • The History of Women, Medieval to Modern: Sources, Methods and Approaches
  • Researching Social Exclusion
  • Comparative Literature: Cultural Construction of the Past
  • Gender and Sexuality in Irish Writing

Semester 2

Theoretical Approaches to Gender, Culture and Society II
Thesis Writing
Students must choose two modules among the following:

  • Feminism(s), Diaspora and Multiculturalism
  • Feminist Literary Theory
  • Researching Social Change
  • Feminist Perspectives on Conflict and Development Issues
  • Utopian Theory and Texts

Summer Semester


All elective modules may not be offered if student numbers are too small or if there are irresolvable timetable clashes.

The MA aims to equip students with transferable skills which will be attractive to employers in a wide range of occupation areas. The interdisciplinary nature of the MA means that it encourages intellectual flexibility, good imaginative and conceptual abilities, as well as strong interactive, communication, team-working and social skills. The programme also provides a sound basis for doctoral research.

Primary degree in a relevant discipline with First or Second Class Honours or an approved equivalent qualification. Candidates must be proficient in English.


  • "Doing the MA in Gender, Culture & Society was a truly inspiring process. The diverse range of modules on offer meant that I had an opportunity to find the path that most suited my interests. Participating in this course has changed the way I think and engage in the world around me and it has given me invaluable knowledge, skills and confidence." (Aoife Neary)
  • "I have always been aware of the inequalities in this world but by completing the MA in Gender, Culture & Society I gained more insight into the inequalities in life that are more covert. It made me look at how these inequalities are subtly conveyed through our popular culture, our working lives and our daily interactions with one another and how they impact our lives without us even noticing. It made me question everything, to not take everything at face value, but to question what is said to us by our politicians, our media, our leaders. For someone like me who was returning to the classroom over twenty years since I completed the Leaving Certificate, the thought of returning was quite daunting. The lecturers made the transition easy as their style and approach to lecturing put to rest any fears I may have had initially. The whole UL campus environment makes learning infectious and addictive and everyday I craved more information. It can be quite scary committing to a year's study in such a prestigious university as UL but as my experience can contend, it is worth it and it certainly is achievable." (David White)
  • "The MA in Gender, Culture & Society at UL was truly inspiring both academically and as an international experience. I was able to develop research skills and choose modules that helped me to develop my interest in a career in education. As a Canadian student at UL I felt at home very quickly meeting students on my own programme and others when taking optional modules. UL is a beautiful campus with lots of opportunities for international students to develop friends and integrate with local students and activities. I am now moving on to Australia for further postgraduate study". (Alexa Toffolon)
  • "The University of Limerick’s (UL) Gender, Culture and Society course has been very informative and given me new perspective on both major world issues and on how we may research them. This is a subject which men (particularly straight men) are often socially discouraged from taking to preserve their own social image. I have found this course to be very welcoming and the environment to be very inclusive, with my classmates keeping in regular contact and supporting each other. The teachers have also been very supportive having geared the course contents to reflect the practices as well as the contents of the research subjects, and expecting more of their students in terms of quality and effort. For example, while I used to have difficulty understanding qualitative research, I have come to understand not only how but why it is practiced and of what benefit it can be. I would highly recommend this UL program!"  -- (Luke Bleka American student on MA GCS@UL programme 2016/7).

  • "The MA in Gender, Culture & Society at UL was the perfect choice to allow me to continue my studies surrounding the representation of transgender people in popular culture by giving me access to a wide range of modules across disciplines. The most important aspect of the program was that I was able to move beyond the basics of ‘gender as a social construct’ into the very real, radical ways we can, given the knowledge base formed as part of the MA, educate the rest of the world to be more tolerant and accepting of gender beyond binaries, and the ways in which resistance to transphobia and heteronormativity can be broadened in myriad important ways to combat other problematic areas of society such as racism, religious intolerance, and class inequality. I would very highly recommend this program to anyone with a strong interest in gender and a desire to do challenging and meaningful work in this sphere of academia."   -- (Alena Kiel, American student on MA GCS@UL 2015/6 currently PhD student at UL).

  • "I am really enjoying the Masters in Gender, Culture and Society course. It is challenging as it makes me question some of my beliefs and assumptions about the world but this just shows me how important gender and other categories such as race and class are in today’s society, not just for other people but in my life and work also. There is great variety with the topics covered which can span from classical sociology theory to popular culture and there is a practical focus on research skills which will be very useful in the future. If you think you are even a bit curious about these subjects, I would recommend this course to you!" (Margaret O'Connor, MA GCS @UL programme – 2016/7).

  • "I wanted to do the MA Gender, Culture and Society course in UL for a few years and in 2016 the opportunity finally came up.  The course is really interesting and there are a number of different modules to choose from depending on your interests.  While it has been intense in parts the course director and lecturers are really supportive and approachable, I have learned so much and it was great to meet so many likeminded people.  I am enjoying my time in UL and on this course and don’t regret my decision to return to third level education." (Yvonne Murphy , MA GCS@ UL student 2016/7).

  • 'I was initially drawn to the MA in Gender, Culture and Society by the wide range of modules on offer and the fact that I could complete the course part-time. I was particularly interested in the socio-political approach to gender and was able to choose electives which focussed on both the theory and sociological methodology which laid the groundwork for my choice of PhD topic. The MA Dissertation, in particular, helped to develop and consolidate my research and writing skills in preparation for study at doctoral level'. (Patti O'Malley MA GCS @UL student P/T 2011-2013; Currently PhD Candidate, Gender, Culture & Society, Department of Sociology)