UCC Women’s Studies master’s exceeds student expectations

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Catriona KeaneGraduate in MA in Women’s Studies / PhD in Applied Social Studies and Women’s Studies

In 2014, I graduated with an MA in Women’s Studies. I originally chose this MA course as I was interested in the topics of gender, feminism and issues affecting women in society and wanted to explore these areas in more detail. However, what I learned and took away from the course exceeded all of my expectations. The broad, interdisciplinary aspect of the course was one which I really enjoyed. Looking at feminist theory and issues affecting women in society from a variety of different perspectives such as sociology, philosophy, law, and film theory etc. gave me the opportunity to think critically and independently about these issues. Through class based discussions and a passionate, knowledgeable teaching team, we examined and questioned constructions of gender and women’s role and position in society, not only in an Irish context but on an international scale. For me, this sense of questioning was one which made my experience of the course a very enjoyable one and raised my awareness of the issues women face around the world. This course introduced me to a wide variety of thought – provoking topics; including historical, literary and contemporary feminist debates such as prostitution and abortion for example. Guest speakers throughout the year exposed me to topics which were not on the curriculum and a class trip to Dublin was organised at the end of the second semester which included meeting with a member of the National Women’s Council of Ireland. This was a great learning experience as it highlighted to me the many ways feminist theory can be put into practice to improve the lives of women internationally.

Throughout the MA course I also learned many transferable practical and academic skills such as how to effectively manage my time and self – directed learning. The final thesis was a great opportunity to put all of these skills and knowledge into practice, in particular the feminist research skills which I had learned throughout the programme. Although the idea of the thesis was daunting at first, the freedom to choose a topic which you are passionate about and the continued support and guidance of my supervisors made it an extremely positive experience. Since finishing the MA I have gone on to start an interdisciplinary PhD on Female Genital Mutilation, the same topic as my MA thesis, with the School of Applied Social Studies and Women’s Studies. The MA in Women’s Studies was a great stepping stone to pursuing a PhD. UCC for me has always been a college with a strong postgraduate community and provides a great range of resources to all of its students. I would strongly recommend this course to anybody who would like to gain a better insight and understanding of feminism and learn more about the issues affecting women around the world.

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