Departmental website: lse.ac.uk/genderInstitute
Number of graduate students (full-time equivalent)
Number of faculty (full-time equivalent): 10
Location: Columbia House
About the Institute
The Gender Institute was established in 1993 to address the major intellectual challenges posed by contemporary changes in gender relations.
The Institute's graduate students come from all corners of the globe and enter gender studies from a diverse range of disciplinary backgrounds, including literature, politics, political economy and development studies. This range of backgrounds is also reflected in the faculty of the Institute, who come from geography, development, economics, English and French literature, political theory, law, cultural studies, sociology and social policy. We run a large master's programme, with five separate degrees, and a PhD programme. Each programme is characterised by its interdisciplinary and transnational approach to gender studies, and both students and staff work exceptionally hard to maintain this two-pronged direction to maintain a creative, distinctive and innovative edge. The combined master's degrees welcome 85 students annually, and the PhD programme has around 15 students at a given time.
The Institute is unique in bringing together approaches from the social sciences and humanities to address key problems in gender studies transnationally. We provide a leading role internationally in combining innovative theory and epistemology with policy concerns. Our research-led approach results in a vibrant research environment and a unique teaching programme that prepares students for various careers within and outside of academia. We train the largest number of graduates qualifying in gender studies anywhere in Europe and run a series of high-profile events including public lectures, workshops and conferences. We also host international scholars through our Visitors Programme who are integrated into the life of the Institute.
The Gender Institute encourages active learning and full student participation in the classes we teach. Students are introduced to a variety of teaching modes including formal lectures, seminars, workshops, integrated lectures and seminars, and student-led facilitation seminars and conferences. Seminars may also incorporate individual and group presentations. All our teaching modes are complemented by one-to-one contact with course tutors and conveners in office hours and for dissertation supervision.
Opportunities for research
The research work of the Gender Institute is critical, transnational, and interdisciplinary. Our research is variously positioned in relation to different fields of study within the social sciences and humanities, but in each case, the focus on gender means testing conventional disciplinary boundaries and developing alternative methodologies. All the research addresses, in some way, the tenacity of gender power relations and gendered inequalities in a period of global transformation. Our research falls under four broad strands, and we work both independently and collaboratively within and across these themes:
Bodies and sexualities: Research in this field includes analysis of the body as property, and body as commodity, and what, if anything, makes the body special. It also addresses the relationship between gender and sexuality, with an emphasis on local and transnational spaces and flows.
Gender and social policy: Using a gendered perspective, research in this theme documents social, economic and political change, and critically analyses individual, family, and policy responses, using both cross-national comparative methodologies and in-depth case studies.
Globalisation, development and inequalities: Research in this theme analyses social and economic transformation in the global north and south, focusing on gendered relations, rights, citizenship, social justice and change with respect to work, security, migration, poverty and the social reproduction of daily life.
Representation, narrative and culture: This theme brings together colleagues who work on gendered representations in film, literature and theory. This work addresses ageing and subjectivity, classed dimensions of narrative, and the history of feminist theory.
PhD applications are welcome in any of the above areas; for more detailed indication of staff research interests, please look at the Institute website.
Research students are a core part of the research culture at the Gender Institute, and their PhD programme is tailored both to individual and to general needs, including methodology training and engagement in professional academic life. All research students at the Institute receive core training in their first year to prepare them for their research and writing, and ongoing training across the period of their studies in and outside the Institute. The aim is to enable students to complete a PhD thesis within a maximum of four years, or an MPhil thesis in two years.
PhD students will be accepted on the basis of the strength of their thesis/project proposal, a writing sample, their motivation and their prior academic achievement. All shortlisted students are interviewed. The availability of appropriate supervision is a key issue when making an offer of admission and this is addressed by the Institute when considering the formal application.
PhD programme workshops
All PhD students attend fortnightly PhD workshops from the start of their time at the Institute, which focus on student work in progress. These meetings provide students with continuity across their time at the Institute, build expertise in presenting and evaluating their own and other people's work, and confidence in editing and revising drafts of their writing. They also generate a sense of a shared project and cohort identity, particularly since students are encouraged to focus on common problems such as methodological or design challenges as well as textual issues.
Students take compulsory courses in gender theories and a compulsory course in epistemology and methodology in their first year to build theory and research practice skills. These courses introduce students to the range of theoretical frameworks available to gender studies experts, and ask what it means to use theory to explore key debates and problems rather than approaching theory in an abstract way. The theory course proves invaluable in training students to think about how theory travels and what it means to take a particular position in theoretical debate. Both courses allow students to think creatively about the ‘how to’ of research, not just in relation to their own project but as a central feature of all research. First-year PhD students must attend all gender theories lectures and the whole of the epistemology and methodology course (including seminars and workshops).
First-year students will be formally reviewed towards the end of the year when the Institute makes the decision on whether to upgrade a student from the MPhil to the PhD programme. The upgrade review includes the submission of written work together with an oral discussion of the research project. Students are required to submit: (i) a draft chapter of 8,000 to 10,000 words (eg, literature review, theorectical approach, substantive analysis of research themes); (ii) a research design document of four–five pages outlining the research rationale, research question and objectives, and the methodological and/or theoretical issues relevant to the research; (iii) a two-page chapter outline of the thesis with an indication of chapter contents; and (iv) a timeline for completion. The upgrade review is conducted by a panel which will normally include a doctoral programme director, the supervisor and advisor, or one other academic. The upgrade to PhD registration normally takes place in weeks four–six of the Summer term. Subsequently, students are reviewed annually with an especially important review at the end of third year to ensure timely completion.