Ask a feminist – the blog edition!

// 24 June 2008

Our ‘Ask a Feminist’ feature has become so popular that the volume of questions is getting a bit out of hand, I think it needs to move over to the blog, where it can be updated more frequently. You can read earlier versions here, but from now on it has a new home here :)

Answers are provided by regular F Word contributors, and represent only their own potentially fallible opinions. In the spirit of pluralism, we will try and work in more than one response if we can. There is no definitive ‘F Word line’ or ‘feminist line’, and our answers are given in that spirit.

Of course, we will never publish anyone’s name or identifying details. If you want to ask us something, please just our comment form


Well, I’m in my first year of college and have actually been pretty much a baby feminist since I was about 12. I really want to take this further when I leave college. problem is Icannot for the life of me find any universities in the UK that have a feminist or women’s studies degree. If you know any, it’d be great if you could tell me, cos that’s what I

really want to do :) Thank you.

Aspiring student

Dear AS,

Currently there are two undergraduate women’s studies courses on offer in the UK. One is a joint honours (with various combinations) at the University of Westminster. The programme leader there is Ruth Swirsky, and you can apply through UCAS as normal. The other is at Ruskin College Oxford, currently Y1 is offered and Y2 and Y3 are being finalised next year. Ruskin focuses on students over the age of 19 but will be offering the only single honours Women’s Studies degree in the UK. I am the programme convenor at Ruskin so any questions do let me know.

Alternatively you could do a UCAS search for gender studies degrees (there are about six I think including Aberdeen, Warwick and others) and try and specialise within them but it’s worth noting that gender studies, whilst usually having some feminist content, aren’t always specifically feminist courses.

Louise Livesey

Comments From You

Cockney Hitcher // Posted 25 June 2008 at 9:15 am

Lancaster University still seems to offer an undergraduate programme in WS but only for one year (see I did a Masters in WS at Lancaster and would recommend it (although I didn’t like Lancaster itself very much).

Dawn // Posted 25 June 2008 at 10:34 am

It’s worth noting that many courses have the option to do feminist modules, for example, I study English at Warwick, but have the option of doing three courses that are explicitly about feminism in literature, and several more on women’s writing. Far from women’s studies dying, I think it’s being assimilated into the mainstream curriculum in campuses, which can only be a good thing.

Lucy R // Posted 25 June 2008 at 1:05 pm

My mum has been a contributor to the Social Sciences department and Women’s Studies at Lancaster University for many years as a researcher, so I would recommend Lancaster as one place to look at for courses.

Alex T // Posted 25 June 2008 at 1:29 pm

I took some sociology modules at Nottingham University which were called ‘Women and Society’. They were excellent and very feminist in content.

E-Visible Woman // Posted 25 June 2008 at 2:38 pm

You can also a Diploma in Women’s Studies at Stow College in Glasgow.

Feminist Avatar // Posted 25 June 2008 at 5:46 pm

You could also try to make an informed choice about what options are available within more traditional subjects. So, I have a history degree (from Glasgow Uni), but out of the sixteen honours modules I did, ten dealt explicitly with women’s history- two were feminist theory modules which I did in the politics dept but the Glasgow system let you do so much credit in other departments (one other module had a strong gender component).

While there are few undergraduate degrees in women’s or gender studies, there are quite a few masters degrees, so you could always hold out for that!

Nicola // Posted 25 June 2008 at 5:52 pm

The Gender Studies degree at Hull Uni is very heavily feminist. It’s also a fantastic university in general.

Emily Johnson // Posted 25 June 2008 at 10:54 pm

I would second the recommendation for Hull. I’m there doing english and creative writing which has a heavily feminist slant to many many modules and theres loads of cross over with gender studies (which seems to be women’s studies in disguise). It’s a great uni with fab people. I recommend!

Lizzie // Posted 26 June 2008 at 1:22 pm

Try also:

Centre for Interdiscipinary Gender Studies at Leeds Uni or the Centre for Women’s Studies at York Uni ( where I attended and it was fantastic)

Amy // Posted 26 June 2008 at 8:13 pm

I would second Lizzie’s recommendation of York – I am a student there now and it’s great! I also did my undergraduate in English here and although there’s not as much choice for feminist or gender aspects specifically, I did manage to focus on it for most of my undergraduate degree!

Good luck finding somewhere – I know all of the above universities will have something different and fabulous about them.

Jenna // Posted 26 June 2008 at 9:56 pm

I studied English and Gender Studies at Sunderland University, and felt it could have been more feminist, however the department was very small and was more sociology based. Although it nurtured my early interest in Gender and Feminism, it definitely sparked my further interest and involvement. Worth noting. Sunderland is a decent enough place too…..Good Luck!

Jennifer Yong // Posted 27 June 2008 at 7:11 am

I’d like to start by saying that I think it’s great that you are interested in and wish to pursue gender discourses at university. I know that I would never truly understand feminist issues if I hadn’t studied a variety of feminist theorists and women’s texts during my degree. However, I just want to point out (as others have kinda done) that it is also worthwhile to study other discourses in conjunction with feminism. I studied at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, and in my later years my focus was primarily feminism; but since I studied other subjects as well (such as creative writing) I was able to use the theory I had learned in ways that were relevant and interesting to me. Since completion of my degree, I have found that my main interest is cyberfeminism but i would never have discovered this without studying bodies & culture in a more general way before arriving at cyborg theory. That said, good luck to you in finding the right course!! ^_^

Nicola // Posted 30 June 2008 at 1:41 pm

I third the Hull recommendation. I’m going into my third year studying English & there are plenty of feminist and women-based modules to pick from.

Caitlin // Posted 30 June 2008 at 11:29 pm

Just thought I’d add to the idea that many subjects have feminism modules – I’m hoping to study English at Exeter, which has modules on feminism and then should be quite flexible in the later years, so you can focus once more on feminist/woman-based literature…

Also Sussex University has a gender studies course:

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