Women’s Studies is in many ways a unique subject which is ideally suited to the interests of mature students. It attempts to challenge traditional structures of knowledge about gender and also, the usual ways in which we learn. Women’s Studies draws on many disciplines, including sociology, literature, history, psychology and politics, and is accessible to students whose previous academic backgrounds are in any area. Students are encouraged to reflect on their own life experiences and combine this with theoretical insights that cross discipline boundaries.
The course involves intellectual discussion of a wide range of issues that impact directly on women’s lives today. It has relevance to those working in a wide range of sectors who wish to understand more about gender relations in society and who also want to acquire up-to date academic skills and qualifications. Women’s Studies recognises the value of women’s personal lived experiences, and the skills and awareness learned through everyday social interaction, and believes in listening to what women themselves have to say about their own lives.
The course has been taught at Bangor since 1994 and is currently the only course of its kind in Wales. Over the last twenty years women from across North Wales and from many walks of life have studied on this course. It has a reputation for being both intellectually stimulating and practically relevant. Recent dissertations have been on topics as diverse as women in local politics, the experiences of young gay people in North Wales, a feminist analysis of embroidery, a study of Ruth Ellis and the portrayal of women in Hitchcock’s films!
The course is located within Lifelong Learning but the teaching staff represent a wide range of academic interests from within, and also external to, the University. Lifelong Learning has as its core mission the aim of making part-time study available to all. All our students are adults and study part-time alongside other responsibilities, so as staff we are very familiar with the pressures and problems that can arise and can offer the appropriate support and encouragement.
The course covers the established areas of Women’s Studies content, theory and method but also has a distinct Welsh flavour reflecting the interests and expertise of staff, so, for instance there is a module on Welsh women’s history, and modules that include work, education and literature that focus on Welsh issues as well as wider British and global perspectives. We feel that our course gives students a strong grounding in Women’s Studies but with a particular Welsh dimension.
Although many of our students enrol on the MA primarily for reasons of personal interest, it is also a valuable qualification for career development for many. Topics such as women’s experience in the workplace, equal opportunities, gender differences and enterprise are important and relevant issues for women in many walks of life. Students also develop valuable and up-to-date transferable skills in research, information gathering and writing. A large proportion of our students carry out dissertations in areas directly related to their field of work, and may be supported financially by their employers.
Anyone with an undergraduate degree or equivalent in any subject may apply. We also welcome applications from anyone over 25 who can demonstrate from life experiences their suitability for the programme and give some evidence of ability to study at this level.
Although it is not compulsory to have completed a degree we do feel it would be of benefit to those embarking on a Postgraduate programme. We also take professional and personal experience into account, and consider all students on merit. Prospective students will be asked to complete an application form and attend an interview.