Research Degrees (MPhil/PhD) in Gender Studies


Programme Description

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time

The MPhil/PhD in Gender Studies is a unique programme combining cutting edge theorizing in Gender Studies with the special areas expertise related to Africa, Asia and the Middle East which has been a trademark of SOAS. The Centre for Gender Studies welcomes applications from research students for our MPhil/PhD programme in all areas of Gender Studies. The Centre places its emphasis on the acquisition of critical theoretical skills and in-depth regional knowledge across disciplines with specific reference to Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Members of the Centre and current research students work on an exceptionally wide range of topics, both theoretical and empirical. Supervision for research students can be provided across this wide range. The Centre houses a training programme in Gender Studies for research students the work of which is supported by the organisation of regular Centre seminars.

The CGS especially invites students to apply with interest in researching gender or gender and sexuality, including sub-specialism in security; law; migration and diasporas; political movements and coalition building; queer theory; transgender studies; critical race theory; transnational feminism; queer/trans of colour critique; decolonial epistemologies. Projects on any area of gender and sexuality and the study of Asia, Africa and/or the Middle East and/or their diasporas are welcomed.


Research will be guided throughout by a research committee of three staff members, consisting of one primary supervisor and two supporting supervisors in an advisory capacity. Depending on the nature of the research joint supervision is sometimes recommended, under the direction of two supervisors.

In the first year, doctoral candidates prepare for research by following an MPhil training programme convened by the Chair of the Centre for Gender Studies. There are certain required courses, the other elements being agreed between the candidate, the Research and Admission Tutor, and the supervisor(s).

MPhil doctoral researchers may attend also specific research methods course offered within both the Faculty of Languages & Cultures and within the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences. The specific elements of generic research training might vary and will be agreed with your supervisor and the research tutor. The generic research method training includes courses offered by the Academic Development Directorate (ADD) and the library.

Methodologies & Methods in Gender Studies

In addition to generic methods training, MPhil/PhD students in Gender Studies are required to attend a training seminar in methodologies & methods in Gender Studies in terms 1, 2 & 3. The aim of the training programme is to provide a thorough grounding in theory, methods, regional, cultural, linguistic and any special disciplinary expertise that may be required for the research. The training seminar is a weekly to fortnightly course of seminar-classes especially for first year research students consisting of student presentations & discussions thereof, as well as guided tutorials revolving around the following themes:

  1. Prevailing Epistemologies in Gender Studies
  2. Feminist approaches to research methods
  3. Analyzing texts – Content analysis
  4. Discourse analysis
  5. Quantitative methods (surveys, questionnaires etc.)
  6. Oral histories
  7. Ethnographies
  8. Interdisciplinarity in Gender Studies
  9. Activism & research

MPhil/PhD students are in addition expected to attend regularly the Centre’s seminar series, details of which are available on the SOAS website and on the Gender Studies noticeboard on the 3rd floor of the main building next to room 399. MPhil students are also encouraged to attend the MA Gender Studies core course in Gender Theory and the Study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East convened and taught by Dr Alyosxa Tudor and Dr Awino Okech.

Optional elements may consist of specialist disciplinary, language or regional culture courses, attendance of which can be agreed between the student and the supervisory committee.

Upgrade Procedure

In the first week of term 3, year 1, doctoral candidates submit an extended research proposal (of about 10,000 words), including the following elements:

  1. Research rationale and context of proposed research.
  2. Main research questions.
  3. Literature review.
  4. Theoretical and methodological framework & considerations.
  5. Proposed research methods.
  6. Ethical issues (where applicable).
  7. Outlining the structure of PhD dissertation.
  8. Schedule of research and writing.
  9. Bibliography.

This upgrade proposal is assessed by the candidate’s research committee, based on a 20-30 minute oral presentation followed by a discussion also open to other staff and student members of the Centre for Gender Studies. On successful completion of the extended proposal, doctoral researchers are formally upgraded to PhD and proceed to the fieldwork phase, which conventionally lasts up to a year. (If the assessors consider there to be shortcomings in the upgrade proposal, researchers will be asked to revise it to their satisfaction before the upgrade to PhD status can be confirmed.) Candidates are not normally permitted to undertake fieldwork until the upgrade process has been completed.

The second year is normally spent engaged in research. This may be by any combination of fieldwork and research in libraries and archives as agreed between the doctoral researcher and the supervisor(s).

The third year is devoted to writing up research for the PhD thesis. During this time, the doctoral candidate will normally give a presentation to the Postgraduate Research Seminar, comprising a small number of staff members with special expertise in the topic and other research students. During this time candidates will present draft chapters to the supervisor(s) for comment, before writing the final draft for examination. The thesis – normally 80,000 words in length - will be examined by two leading authorities on Gender Studies or relevant disciplines/area studies. The external examiner is always a scholar from outside the University of London.

Doctoral candidates studying part-time take the MPhil training seminar in the first year and write the Core Chapter & research proposal in the second year. The length of time for field or other research, and writing up, is adjusted accordingly.

Degrees are awarded by the University of London.

Important notice

The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session.

Research Admissions and Applications

We welcome applications from qualified students holding a good Master’s-level degree (or overseas equivalent) in a relevant subject for research degrees at SOAS. Applications should be submitted online.

It is important to apply well before the start of the academic year in which you wish to enrol to allow us time to process your application. If you are applying for scholarships, earlier deadlines may apply.

The SOAS PhD programme is competitive and applicants should have a track record of high academic achievement and a viable proposal which will contribute to the research interests of the Department. Please note: we discourage purely speculative applications. Applications for interdisciplinary research are welcome, but only one application to one Department may be submitted.

Unconditional English Language Entry Requirements

Applicants that require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK must provide a UKVI IELTS Academic certificate from a UKVI approved test centre.

International applicants requiring a Tier-4 Visa to study in the UK

Test Unconditional entry Unconditional entry with in-sessional support
IELTS (Academic) 7.0 overall or higher, with 7.0 in sub-scores. 7.0 overall or higher, with at least 6.5 in sub-scores

EEA and EU applicants

Test Unconditional entry Unconditional entry with in-sessional support
IELTS (Academic) 7.0 overall or higher, with 7.0 in each sub-score. 7.0 overall or higher, with at least 6.5 in sub-scores.
TOEFL IBT 105 overall or higher, with a minimum of 25 in sub-scores. 105 overall with a minimum of 22 in sub-scores.
100 overall with a minimum of 25 in writing and 22 in other sub-scores.
Pearson Test of English (Academic) 75 overall or higher, with a minimum of 70 in sub-scores. 70 overall or higher, with a minimum of 65 in sub-scores.
Last updated Nov 2019

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