Contemporary menstrual studies
An interdisciplinary foundation year for advanced study and practice
This masters-level course is designed to develop your understanding of menstruation today in the contexts of business, feminism, health, law, politics, popular culture, sustainability, spirituality, sport, technology, and wellbeing.
The course was created and is taught by Dr Lara Owen. For a detailed bio please click here.
Course content is updated every year as new research becomes available.
Enrolment for the 2023 course is now closed. Enrolment for 2024 will open in September 2023.
• Join a dedicated group of fellow students and practitioners
• Receive a wealth of information to ground and inform your future work
• Learn from Dr Lara Owen, a pioneer and long-time expert in the field
who it’s for
WHY TAKE THIS COURSE?
The course is designed for people eager to deepen their knowledge of menstrual studies, whether as a preparation or adjunct for formal postgraduate research and/or to inform their work as menstrual educators, activists and clinicians.
Menstruation is a fascinating and necessary topic, and it is also complex. Ideas, beliefs, practices and needs surrounding menstruation impact upon and are affected by different aspects of life. Accordingly, the topic is researched in many academic disciplines, each of which has their own preferred research methods and theoretical perspectives, yet which all speak to the topic.
This means it takes a great deal of study to get a handle on the wider picture of menstrual research, to find out what we know and don’t know, and to understand prevailing ideas in context. Taking this course will help you with that process and guide you through the existing literature and research so that you can understand the topic with more assurance and depth.
The field of menstrual studies is rapidly developing and it is so exciting to see new knowledge emerging. But as yet there is no dedicated preparatory pathway at university level for postgraduate study, or related support for menstrual education, public engagement and activism.
This course fills the gap in available education for people who want to learn in depth about menstrual culture and practices, and be equipped to understand research across disciplines. The course will help prepare you for Master’s or PhD research, and/or build your strengths as a teacher or public communicator in the field.
Comments from previous participants
“Joining the Contemporary Menstrual Studies course has been an exciting and much needed opportunity. The wide range of areas covered within the course has allowed me to explore many new avenues of interest, whilst deepening my existing knowledge with up to date research and context. Lara delivers the lectures in such an accessible manner and her vast knowledge, interest and enthusiasm has given me a thirst to continue learning in this field. It’s been great to connect with the other students who are based all around the world. This is an excellent course and I thoroughly recommend it.” Grace Hempshall, Menstrual Educator, Somerset, U.K.
“Being part of the Contemporary Menstrual Studies course was one of the best expanding experiences in my professional career. As a Ph.D. student in menstrual health in India, I was looking for guidance to strengthen my work. In the process of this course, I was able to believe in myself again as a researcher and as a writer. Dr. Lara has an amazing way to guide you and support you in your work. Taking this course has been one of the best experience that one can have as a woman, a researcher, or someone keenly interested in menstruation.” Erika Lizbeth Vega Anaya, PhD student, Mexican currently living in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
“I feel privileged to have been in the first cohort of this thought-provoking course. Lara’s considerable experience, engaging delivery and supportive approach has made it an incredibly valuable contribution to my PhD studies. Sharing ideas with an internationally diverse group – all passionate about menstruation – has deepened my own commitment to making a meaningful contribution to destigmatising and dignifying the menstrual experience and its many milestones.” Karen Abi-Karam, Sussex, UK, PhD student, Research Centre for Transformative Change: Educational & Life Transitions, University of Dundee
“I am very grateful for having had this unique opportunity to attend the Contemporary Menstrual Studies Course for the class of 2022. I have gained in-depth and practical knowledge in every aspect of the topic of menstruation and a rich and detailed understanding of feminism. I highly recommend this fantastic course to everyone passionate about women’s rights.” Andisheh Jahangir, Health Project Officer, Iran
“Taking the Contemporary Menstrual Studies course was an immeasurable experience encapsulating historic, diverse, in-depth material surrounding menstruation. Lara’s wealth of knowledge and magnitude of resources have given me the tools to build a stronger intellectual understanding of what menstruation really looks like in media, politics, the workplace and more. The vast nature of the seminars are harmonized by Lara’s eloquent and integrative teaching style. This is a course I would love to take over and over as it continues to expand. What a liberating experience it was for me.” Elena Mischal, Virginia, USA.
What the course offers
The course offers a solid knowledge foundation for those wanting to pursue further study at Masters or PhD level and/or who work with menstruation and menstruators in any context.
The course is taught online and consists of written content, lectures, seminars (guided group discussions), videos, reading lists, and participant assignments.
To aid in knowledge integration and to assist students in developing their areas of interest, there is a short assignment for each module and two longer research-based assignments with one due towards the end of each semester.
At the end of the course a certificate is awarded to those who successfully complete all assignments.
How it works
The course is structured like a university course. There are two semesters of 12 weeks each, with a two week-long breaks in each (situated around significant national holidays), and a three month gap between the two semesters. During term-time, there is a lecture every two weeks, and a seminar in the intervening week.
The time commitment for attendance at lectures and seminars is around 1.5 hours per week, for 20 weeks in total. On top of that, you need to plan time for several hours of reading per week for each topic, and for short assignments such as watching a video or writing in your journal on a specific topic.
In addition, there are two substantial written, research-based assignments. These assignments are due for submission in Weeks 11 and 22.
To allow you to catch up with reading and to focus on your independent work, the semester breaks and the three month space in between the two semesters form a pause in the taught new information. This timing is also important in helping you to integrate the course material.
There is a broad and comprehensive reading list for the whole course. Key papers and additional reading are made available to you for each module.
DATES for 2023
The 2023 course started on March 19. Semester 1 runs March 19 to June 7. Semester 2 runs September 17 to December 6.
Classes for 2023 are being held at 10 am on Sundays and 7 pm on Wednesdays (UK time). Participants can attend either session.
Lectures are recorded and the videos made available for participants to view at a later date. You will also have access to the Powerpoints from the lectures.
Attendance at lectures is recommended, and there is a live Q and A afterwards. Recordings are made available for review purposes and in case you are occasionally unable to attend.
Seminars are not recorded.
The course brings together people passionate about the topic of menstruation from around the world.
The course was run for the first time in 2022 with fifteen students living in nine countries across four continents. The current course (2023) has twenty-two students in eleven countries across six continents.
Some scholarships are available for those living and working in low-to-middle income countries.
Graduating from the course and receiving the certificate of completion is determined 50% through attendance and participation, and 50% through written assignments.
You need to attend at least 80% of sessions, and to participate in seminars and Q & As demonstrating you have read the required material. For the assignments, you need to submit them on time and to a satisfactory level.
Certification is given in UK postgraduate style with three levels of Distinction, Merit, and Pass.
is it right for
your level of learning?
Ideally you will have at least a Bachelor degree or similar qualification, but if you can show evidence of equivalent independent study that may also allow you to take the course. (If you are uncertain, email with any queries before signing up.) This is a postgraduate academic course situated at first year Master’s level.
The course is taught using clear language with an emphasis on building capability to enhance understanding. You will have time and space over the year to grow your ability to express your knowledge and thoughts in more specific and accurate language, and to understand key theories and research methods being used.
Overall, the skills and information you will learn will add to your capability and authority as a menstrual practitioner, teacher and communicator, whether inside or outside academia.
what you will study
course modules in BRIEF
Each lecture provides an overview of current knowledge and activity in the specific topic. It also pays attention to the main theories and research methods used in the topic.
01. Introduction to Contemporary Menstrual Studies
A brief history of menstruation and Menstrual Studies; an overview of the key theoretical perspectives and research methods used in menstrual research; how to approach and get the most from this course.
02. Menstruation in popular culture
Changing conceptualisations and representations of menstruation in film, tv, art, advertising, fiction, non-fiction and social media.
03. Menstrual stigma
How menstrual stigma influences female embodiment and sense of agency, and impacts upon the study of menstruation. How to identify when research, activism or commentary is unwittingly reproducing stigma.
04. Menstruation and feminism
How the various streams of feminism have approached menstruation and how this is changing.
05. Menstruation, wellbeing and health
New menstrual health research and changing knowledge about the menstruating body and mind.
06. Menstruation, business and technology
The corporatisation of menstruation; the product focus; the role of corporate marketing in normalising specific ideas and practices surrounding menstruation; femtech and its implications.
07. Menstruation and the workplace
Menstruation at work; ideas and methods surrounding menstrual leave and mentrual flexibility; contemporary menstrual workplace policies; how specific syndromes impact upon work and career and the current research focus on endometriosis at work.
08. Menstruation and sustainability
Conceptualisation of ‘sustainability’ and associated ideas; how these impact menstruation; how developments in menstrual sustainability feed back to broader environmentalism. Research on ‘sustainable menstruation’ and what needs to be addressed moving forward.
09. Menstruation, public policy and the law
The path to public policy change and what has enabled this; significant legal changes over the past decade; the political and national agendas involved in supporting menstrual-positive legislation.
10. Integration and summing up
The importance of integration in learning and ways to enable this. Whole group Q & A and discussion about moving forward and participant plans for future work.
join the course
book your place
Registration for 2023 is now closed.
The next course starts March 24, 2024.
Registration for 2024 will open in September 2023.
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