Postgraduate Queries

What options are available in women's studies? Where can I get funding for a Masters in jewellery design?
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The Independent Online

Female focus

During my undergraduate degree some years ago I took a number of courses in women's studies. I wondered what the subject field is like these days, and what part-time postgrad courses there are. Also, what sort of jobs do women's studies postgraduates go into?

You may have read about student protests over the scrapping of the women's studies BA at London Metropolitan University. The course, which started in the 1980s, was axed because too few students are enrolled. London Met is not the only one to be scrapping its undergraduate courses, but the outlook on the postgraduate level remains quite healthy.

There is still a broad range of postgraduate courses, whether historical perspectives on feminism, cultural issues relating to violence and sexuality, work-related issues and the labour market, or representations of women in art. Masters courses are often housed at university sociology schools, but some universities have specific centres for women's or gender studies, such as Hull, Kent, Manchester, Newcastle and York. And while London Met has axed its BA, it does have a new Masters in equality and diversity.

To find courses try The Institute for Feminist Theory and Research ( www.iftr.org.uk), the website Genesis ( www.genesis.ac.uk/centres.html), and www.thecoursesource.co.uk. The Gender Institute at LSE has five Masters programmes, all of which can be taken part-time. Gender development and globalisation is a popular subject area at the moment.

You usually need a first-class honours first degree, although in theory postgraduate courses, especially part-time, accept candidates with relevant work experience. Fees vary a lot, but the expected cost for part-time UK Masters' students for September 2006 will be around £1,500-£1,600 a year. (At LSE it's £4,000).

Women's studies postgraduates can be found in education, social and health care, human resources, social research, trade unions and professional bodies, local and central government. About half of LSE's graduates go on to do a PhD, the rest often work at NGOs and groups such as WHO.

Going for gold

I'm thinking about doing a two-year, full-time Masters in jewellery design in England. I have saved some money, but I want to know about any extra funding. I have a BA (hons) and a PGCE. My work experience is a bit weird - three years teaching art, a bit of teacher training, operations manager for a safari company in Africa, and several years as a silver jeweller. Am I eligible for a grant from the Arts and Humanities Board?

Yes, you are eligible to apply for an award from the AHRC, although you must have been offered a place on a course first. Your chances of getting an award are about one in four.

There are 10 full-time MAs in aspects of jewellery design at seven universities in England. Decide if you want a taught course or one run on a research basis, ask if there are opportunities to collaborate with other students or outside agencies, and find out about the tutors' expertise. Entry will mainly depend on the strength of your portfolio.

Once you have been offered a place, apply to the AHRC. Their website ( www.ahrc.ac.uk) details the process. There are now two funding schemes: the Research Preparation Masters and the Professional Preparation Masters. So decide whether you intend to do further research or to go into professional practice. But there is still confusion over the two schemes, so be careful when you apply.

Your application will be reviewed by a panel of academics who will want to know what you intend to do in the future, rather than judge your past work history. If you are unsuccessful, your chosen university may have its own bursaries.

Advisers: Hazel Johnstone, manager of The Gender Institute at LSE, Gillian Sharp and Margaret Holbrough, graduate prospects advisers

E-mail your postgraduate queries to Caitlin Davies at caitlind1@aol.com

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