Sex, Gender and Sexualities MSc - 2023/4

Awarding body

University of Surrey

Teaching institute

University of Surrey


FHEQ Levels 6 and 7

Final award and programme/pathway title

MSc Sex, Gender and Sexualities MSc

Subsidiary award(s)

Award Title
PGDip Sex, Gender and Sexualities MSc
PGCert Sex, Gender and Sexualities MSc

Modes of study

Route code Credits and ECTS Credits
Full-time PLE61028 180 credits and 90 ECTS credits
Part-time PLE61029 180 credits and 90 ECTS credits

QAA Subject benchmark statement (if applicable)

Other internal and / or external reference points


Faculty and Department / School

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences - Sociology

Programme Leader

GRIFFITHS David (Sociology)

Date of production/revision of spec


Educational aims of the programme

  • To actively encourage students to develop their own criticality, perspective and reflexivity in sophisticated and unique ways
  • To cultivate an inclusive and supportive environment for learning about sex, gender and sexuality, which centralises community and professional dialogue throughout
  • To enable students to gain in depth analytical skills pertinent to sex, gender and sexuality studies to a high scholarly standard
  • To foreground interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary approaches to the study of sex, gender and sexuality
  • To instil recognition of the complex, multiple and various ways that sex, gender and sexuality function, both historically and contemporarily
  • To introduce students to cutting edge research by providing research-led teaching and integrate students further into research communities and projects at the University
  • To produce graduates who excel at critical, analytical and applicable thinking with clear skill and ability to convey and communicate across various methods
  • To produce graduates who have the opportunity to develop considerable professional and autonomous learning ability which will directly enhance their employability and life long career prospects across a very wide range of sectors
  • To provide a programme of study that will enable students to fulfil their intellectual, professional and personal potential through a transformative educational experience
  • To provide flexibility and individual choice throughout the programme allowing students to have greater agency in their learning, leading to the development of professional and confident graduates
  • To provide opportunities for students to demonstrate independent thinking and develop genuinely original contributions to the field

Programme learning outcomes

Attributes Developed Awards Ref.
To gain extensive interdisciplinary knowledge on sex, gender and sexuality to a high scholarly standard KC PGCert, PGDip, MSc
To develop autonomous learning skills through which independence is instilled KCPT MSc
To gain and hone high levels of criticality, originality and applicable thinking leading to work that has the potential to genuinely contribute to the field KCPT MSc
To contribute to, and benefit from, an inclusive, supportive and welcoming learning environment in which individuals fulfil their potential PT MSc
To write an independent project dissertation informed by learning from the programme which demonstrates strong research skills CPT MSc
To communicate learning and argument via multiple media and styles demonstrating high professional skill CPT MSc

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Programme structure


This Master's Degree programme is studied full-time over one academic year, consisting of 180 credits at FHEQ level 7*. All modules are semester based and worth 15 credits with the exception of project, practice based and dissertation modules.
Possible exit awards include:
- Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits)
- Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits)
*some programmes may contain up to 30 credits at FHEQ level 6.


This Master's Degree programme is studied part-time over two academic years, consisting of 180 credits at FHEQ level 7*. All modules are semester based and worth 15 credits with the exception of project, practice based and dissertation modules.
Possible exit awards include:
- Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits)
- Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits)
*some programmes may contain up to 30 credits at FHEQ level 6.

Programme Adjustments (if applicable)



Year 1 (full-time) - FHEQ Levels 6 and 7

Module Selection for Year 1 (full-time) - FHEQ Levels 6 and 7

Students must select one of the two methods modules in Semester 1: either Field Methods (SOCM006) or Research and Writing Skills (ELIM005). It is highly recommended that they select the methods module that best suits the methodologies they expect to use in their dissertation. For Social Sciences based dissertations (using, for example, interviews) they would be expected and advised to select Field Methods. For Humanities based dissertations (using, for example, literary analysis) they would be expected and advised to select Research and Writing Skills. In addition, students select two options modules each semester (so a total of four optional modules) which they take alongside their compulsory modules.

Year 1 (part-time) - FHEQ Levels 6 and 7

Module Selection for Year 1 (part-time) - FHEQ Levels 6 and 7

Students must select one of the two methods modules in Semester 1: either Field Methods (SOCM006) or Research and Writing Skills (ELIM005). It is highly recommended that they select the methods module that best suits the methodologies they expect to use in their dissertation. For Social Sciences based dissertations (using, for example, interviews) they would be expected and advised to select Field Methods. For Humanities based dissertations (using, for example, literary analysis) they would be expected and advised to select Research and Writing Skills. In addition, students select two options modules each semester (so a total of four optional modules) which they take alongside their compulsory modules.

Opportunities for placements / work related learning / collaborative activity

Associate Tutor(s) / Guest Speakers / Visiting Academics N
Professional Training Year (PTY) N
Placement(s) (study or work that are not part of PTY) N
Clinical Placement(s) (that are not part of the PTY scheme) N
Study exchange (Level 5) N
Dual degree N

Other information

The Sex, Gender and Sexualities MSc has been carefully designed to capitalise on the wealth of research and teaching occurring at the University of Surrey about these topics from across a wide range of disciplines. The Department of Sociology, School of Literature and Languages and School of Psychology have therefore pooled resources in order to supply this exciting and innovative programme.

Programme structure

The structure of the master's includes modules that are already running at the University at master's level and some modules which run alongside level 6 versions. Such a tailored approach allows for students to have greater agency, flexibility and freedom in choosing what their master's looks like overall. A key underpinning objective of the programme is to instil a strong community of learning, at the same time as offering options that will allow students to shape their focus in various ways. Together, there is the development of a supportive, inclusive and engaging environment for learning. Part-time students will undertake all compulsory modules in the first year and therefore maintain their sense of shared identity with the cohort, and in the second year embark on their optional modules by which time they have greater familiarity and confidence navigating the University and its systems.

In terms of exact programme structure, students begin the course in Semester 1 with three compulsory modules: the year-long Dissertation, Histories of Sex/uality; and a compulsory methods module. Students are given the option of selecting either Field Methods (a social science methods-based module) or Research and Writing Skills (a humanities-methods based module). Students are recommended to select the module which aligns best with their methodological intentions for their dissertation. Alongside these, students also select two of the six optional modules (Women Behind the Screen: Gender & Labour in Film; Cultures of Race and Racism; Social Psychology of Language and Communication; Queer Ecologies and Travel Writing Past and Present: Themes, Forms and Critical Perspectives). In Semester 2 students continue to take the dissertation module and, alongside this, have another two compulsory modules: Trans/scending Gender and Queer Feminist Approaches. They also select two of the five optional modules (The Social Psychology of Gender; Medieval Women's Writing; Writing Gaming; Sociology of Mental Health and Understanding Sexualities).

The optional modules have been selected on the basis of relevance to the overall programme aims, but also with mindfulness to provide students with opportunities to view sex, gender and sexuality within and across various other areas and/or contexts. There is also additional consideration of intersecting issues (for example, with mental health and race/racism) and key areas in which sex, gender and sexuality are pertinent to the application of a specific area (e.g. in writing gaming, travel writing, film-making). Optional modules are also deliberately balanced across the three disciplines of Sociology, English and Psychology in both semesters.

The students learning journey

The Sex, Gender and Sexualities MSc Programme has been designed with student experience at the centre. Imagining how modules connect, the order of modules, and wider experiences the masters can offer, has been pivotal. Crucially, as an interdisciplinary master's it is anticipated that applicants will be from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds. This is a real strength of the masters which will allow for greater cross-disciplinary learning and reflection. The programme has therefore been designed to fully orientate students varied backgrounds to the scholarly skills required for success in the course. The following describes the student journey of the programme and highlights key features from particular modules.


To begin, the Dissertation module (which runs throughout their entire year-long course) has five weeks of workshops at the beginning of Semester 1 in order to ensure all students are comfortable with essential academic skills required at master's level. These workshops introduce, clarify and outline key scholarly elements required for the programme overall and are critical for the dissertation (e.g. literature searches, referencing, academic practice etc). They will also provide a clear understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of research in the areas of sex, gender and sexuality. These sessions have the additional advantage that they further familiarise students with the Programme Director, key staff and University resources, and give students additional time to develop a sense of cohort identity and begin to establish peer-to-peer learning and support. Following this 5-week workshop course students are given a formative deadline to submit a brief review of the proposed research in regards to broad methodology and topic. It is based on these that they are allocated their Dissertation Supervisor. Such allocation is grounded in supervisor expertise and utilises the value of an interdisciplinary master's while maintaining methodological knowhow for the various imagined projects. From this point students are expected to be working independently, supported by their supervisor.

Alongside this dissertation module, students will also be engaged in their methods module (either Field Methods or Research and Writing Skills) and so their knowledge of methodology should be developing at a good pace by this stage to enable them to make informed decisions around their dissertation. The final compulsory module for Semester 1 is Histories of Sex/uality. Here, students will get a grounding in key issues when thinking historically about sex, gender and sexuality and this module foregrounds later modules. Not only this, but this module is set up as a team-taught module meaning students are exposed to a wider range of staff who work on the master's programme. Various staff members will be teaching on their exact area of expertise and such a research-led teaching approach means students will engage with cutting edge content. Such access will aid students in thinking about their own dissertation projects. This module also has the optional field trip to the Surrey History Centre. During this, students will be able to understand further the implications of archivists and collections work, but also get some first-hand experience of archival research trips.

Aligned to the programme aims, students have agency and flexibility in their choice of their other two modules in Semester 1. They are able to choose modules from across three departments across a range of topics, depending on their interests. These include: Women Behind the Screen: Gender & Labour in Film; Cultures of Race and Racism; Social Psychology of Language and Communication; Queer Ecologies; and Travel Writing Past and Present: Themes, Forms and Critical Perspectives.


In Semester 2 students continue to work independently on their Dissertations supported by their allocated supervisor. In this semester there are two early formative deadlines given to keep them on track as it is a year-long module (one for the first chapter or section and the other for submissions to the ethics committee if applicable). Alongside this module, students also have two compulsory modules: Trans/scending Gender and Queer Feminist Approaches. These modules allow the students to engage with extensive and in-depth knowledge related to sex, gender and sexuality studies. The first, a trans scholarship-focused advanced gender module, is run by an specialist expert in the field. The second, is a queer theory and feminist thinking module, and considers the complexities of both of these separately and in conjunction. Both modules will build upon students engagement with Semester 1 module Histories of Sex/uality. The modules are closely related and form the foundation of learning in the second half of the programme. They also both aim to give students the opportunity to begin to develop specific and context-dependant applicable arguments making them ideal for further developing professional skills for future employment. Learning from these modules at such a high level will also push students to take their critical and analytical skills to the next level which will further assist their arguments and analysis in their dissertations. It is possible that another non-mandatory field trip will be organised to coincide with either or both of these modules. An envisioned trip to the Queer Britain museum, or exhibits of the Museum of Transology, or the Vagina Museum, for example, would be ideal.

Optional modules include Sociology of Mental Health; Understanding Sexualities; The Social Psychology of Gender; Medieval Womens Writing; and Writing Gaming. Once again, it is believed that the modules in Semester 2 will lead students to have a clear cohort identity, yet simultaneously have a strong grasp of the varied and interdisciplinary nature of sex, gender and sexuality studies. By this stage of the programme students will be familiar with the range of staff from across the University. Students on the programme will have access to a supportive scholarly network of people who research these areas and will be invited to relevant events organised by the corresponding Sex, Gender and Sexualities Research Group. Throughout the programme students will be informed about key events and activities taking place across the University regarding employment, doctoral study, further training opportunities etc and additional talks will be supplied for those interested in PhD applications and funding. Throughout the summer, master's students will continue to work on their dissertations with the final deadline and exam board signifying the end of the programme.

Part-time offering

Student on the programme part-time undertake all compulsory modules in Year 1 and are able to select their optional modules in Year 2. The dissertation module runs across the whole two years but the two formative deadlines will occur in Year 2.

Surreys Curriculum Framework

In line with Surrey's Curriculum Framework, we are committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This programme attends to each of these five areas in depth and graduates from this programme will be fully equipped to a sophisticated master's level to fulfil their future potential in their chosen careers based on these key strengths. Such considerations operate on a module level and at a programme level. The following outlines how the programme overall provides students with experience, knowledge and skill in these areas. Each of the five concepts are also presented here mindful of how they integrate in terms of direct content, pedagogical approach and through the student journey.

The interdisciplinary nature of this master's means that graduates from the programme will have broad appeal to a wide range of potential recruiters and graduates would be able to articulate applicability to a vast range of roles. This master's programme allows students to engage with specialist content for around the topics of sex, gender and sexuality suitable in a vast variety of careers. Naturally, students will be especially equipped to engage in further doctoral study but graduates would also suit careers in other sectors, including but not limited to: charity sectors, civil service, social services, archive and collections/museums, teaching and pedagogy / education sectors, media/journalism, publishing etc. Students will have the opportunity to experience teaching from a range of scholars across multiple disciplines giving them greater exposure to disciplinary options. In terms of pedagogy, the core modules throughout the programme provide a solid foundation to enhance students employability prospects.

The Dissertation provides students with the opportunity to develop and demonstrate transferable research and communication specific skills highly desirable at the point of entering the job market. These include: initiative, time management, project planning (from conception to implementation to communication), independent learning, leadership, forming professional relationships and communication skills.

Histories of Sex/uality contains a non-mandatory field trip and direct exposure to archiving, collections and public service work. The methods modules (which provide the foundation for the Dissertation) also give students a wealth of experience with various methods meaning they are well equipped to engage in various research or policy-based roles.

Queer Feminist Approaches deliberately uses presentation assessment to promote students confidence in future interview scenarios and Trans/scending Gender assesses students ability to write a report for other sectors. These clearly demonstrate the extent to which employability and transferable skills, including, but beyond academic scholarly skills, are embedded within the programme. The points at which students begin to hone such skill work is also carefully considered. For example, key academic skills and workshops are provided at the start of the programme in the Dissertation workshops and later assessments which require higher levels of sophisticated applied thinking and greater learning independence (eg assessments in Social Psychology of Gender) are towards the end of the programme. This is intentionally designed to support students as they begin to consider future employment and potential further doctorial study. The programme will be fostering independent learning from the outset and this is promoted through the programmes variety of optional modules. Our graduates are therefore expected to be exceptionally well equipped by this programme to engage in professional contexts with assured confidence.

Digital capabilities
A sophisticated level of digital skill and confidence is a clear output of the programme. All programme content and specific modules will expect and cultivate a level of digital skill and ability that is demonstrated through engagement with the content and learning materials. All teaching materials and key content will be made available in multimedia forms through the Virtual Learning Environment Surreylearn. In addition, key online catalogues will be utilised for example in the Histories of Sex/uality module the LGBT magazine archive will be used and the field trip will include online catalogue searches for the Surrey History Centre. Not only this but engagement with other platforms such as relevant social medias, blogs, YouTube videos etc are also likely to be used, given the wealth of online material pertinent to the studies of sex, gender and sexuality, as activism and online engagement has been critical in its expansion. In specific pedagogical moments, the use of digital equipment and related technological skill is key to the learning objectives of various modules. For example, in Queer Feminist Approaches the presentation assessment will require further digital capabilities, this may include use of Panopto, recording equipment, various presentation tools (eg Powerpoint, Prezi, Canva). Optional modules also give students the opportunity to develop these to an even greater extent. Queer Ecologies for example invites students to develop a podcast as the main assessment and Women Behind the Screen: Gender & Labour in Film gives the options of a podcast or video essay assessment. If they so choose, students could engage with very high levels of digital work across multiple media within the programme. Students have great flexibility in the extent to which they engage with diverse disciplinary topics in this programme but across all modules there is key digital capabilities being demonstrated. This is perhaps particularly evidenced in the Dissertation. Upon completion, students are therefore expected to develop an excellent level of confidence in engaging with and contributing to digital communications.

Global and cultural capabilities

It is crucial in this programme as a whole that diversity in lived experience is recognized alongside understanding how specific social, historical and political contexts impact the studies of sex, gender and sexuality. Students would graduate from this programme with advanced understanding and appreciation of the global and culturally-dependant differences in understanding sex, gender and sexuality across historical time. In terms of content this is directly taught in modules such as Histories of Sex/uality, Trans/scending Gender and Queer Feminist Approaches. Within optional modules this is also directly taught in Queer Ecologies and Social Psychology of Language and Communication (Semester 1) and Medieval Womens Writing and Understanding Sexualities (Semester 2). Not only this but there are broader areas drawn in through optional modules which are also pertinent here, for example Cultures of Race and Racism and the Sociology of Mental Health. Students will therefore graduate from this programme with extensive and sophisticated knowledge and skill which makes them sensitive and understanding of diverse lived experience and context. Not only this but they will also gain substantial skill in recognising and critiquing ethnocentrism in understandings sex, gender and sexuality. It is expected that students will share experiences and knowledge from their own background and cultures and to respect and value different experience. This is assessment in modules such as Queer Feminist Approaches where a toolkit is individually developed and in the reflexive portfolio in Histories of Sex/uality. In relation to student journey, students are expected to embark on the programme with an open mind and a willingness to learn, engage in discussion and broaden their understandings. Critical thinking is a crucial aspect of the programme and by the end students are expected to have gained specialised and applicable knowledge which they can understand in relation to their own lives and the lives of others. This programme has social justice, diversity and inclusivity embedded within its framework and so students will graduate with in depth cultural intelligence in these areas.


Associated with the sustainability component of the Curriculum framework are the central issues of social and political inequalities. Such issues are at the heart of the programme and graduates from this master's will be particularly equipped to recognise such challenges from a micro to a macro level. The programme overall takes particular inspiration from the United Nations goals of sustainability. These include: references to good health and wellbeing (Number 3); quality education (Number 4); gender equality (Number 5); reduced inequalities (Number 10) and sustainable communities (Number 11). Content relevant to these areas is evident across the entire range of module offerings. Naturally the compulsory modules all pertain to these issues with particular emphasis on sex, gender and sexuality, but the optional modules also provide content directly related (see module descriptors for details). Specifically, the Dissertation provides this in a deeper pedagogical fashion as students will engage with ethical considerations of their independent research projects. At the core of this module, and in the concept of sustainability as an educational strategy, is ethics. Students will be given the opportunity, and supported fully through, engaging with strong scholarly and ethically sound research practice. In doing so, they are not only able to demonstrate their own abilities as a future leader or thinking in sustainable research practice, but can use such skills and thinking across other areas (eg for employability). From the perspective of the student journey, such knowledges and skills will be embedded from the outset of the programme, and arguably align closely with the Global and Cultural Capabilities component. However, towards the end of the programme students will feel not only knowledgeable and aware, but gain in confidence at their own ability to tackle societal inequalities and promote inclusive and sustainable scholarly work in the future. Such ability is assessed in final assessments of compulsory modules such as the presentation in Queer Feminist Approaches, the Report in Trans/scending Gender and in the final Dissertation. In providing students with the history and present of such issues, the programme will enable them to be in the next generation of thinkers in the field ready to advance the studies of sex, gender and sexuality event further.

Resourcefulness and Resilience

While students are fully supported and given plenty of guidance throughout the programme, this master's does require solid independence skills which are incorporated into the concepts of resourcefulness and resilience. The range of optional modules and the need to integrate into various types of classroom settings indicates how students will be gaining in self-management skills. Specifically, high levels of active and independent learning will be evident throughout the programme. This autonomy is especially honed in compulsory modules such as Histories of Sex/uality which allows students to engage with critical historiographical issues and produce a reflective account of key areas of learning. These not only give students a grounding confidence for the rest of the programme but also provide space for more creative approaches. Towards the end of the programme this becomes especially useful. For example, the Trans/sending Gender module envisions group seminar work designed to foster greater communication and collaboration skills, but also has assignments which seek to assess independent thinking. Students throughout this module will be demonstrating cognitive adaptability, applicable thinking, and self-efficacy in their own arguments. Likewise, in Queer Feminist Approaches the toolkit assessment provides a space for students to demonstrate the extent of independent thinking and reflection skill they have gained from the programme thus far. This will be a highly self-reliant and reflexive and require creativity. The presentation also assignment enables students to gain greater collaborative experience and thus relies on adaptability, but also individual confidence and leadership. As of course, does the Dissertation where students will gain particular skills in leadership and problem solving, through navigating ethical considerations, and working in a professional and collaborative partnership with their Dissertation supervisor. The structure of the programme overall balances the flexibility and freedom of module choice with students resourcefulness and ability to manage their studying. It is therefore an ideal structure for those immediately progressing from undergraduate study, or those who are stepping back into higher education. Upon completion, students will have benefitted from a network of support, and have become independent and resourceful learners with a great deal of confidence, reflection and problem-solving skills.

Quality assurance

The Regulations and Codes of Practice for taught programmes can be found at:

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2023/4 academic year.