This programme brings together the literature, history, culture and politics of North America.
To truly read a novel like Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987), we need awareness of the historical moment in which it is set and written. To interpret a political speech such as ‘A More Perfect Union’ (2008), we must immerse ourselves in the resources of languages, storytelling and allusion on which Barack Obama draws. Our programme enables you to explore such interdisciplinary connections.
In the first year, you take core foundation modules which provide a strong grounding in all of these areas, as well as training you as an academic researcher. By final year, all modules are optional apart from the core dissertation, in which you will pursue independent research into a topic of your choosing. There is the option to complete an audio-visual dissertation using our state of the art AV equipment and editing suite.
On your Year Abroad, you will be able to choose from our wide range of partner institutions across the US and Canada, with an equally-wide range of American and Canadian civilisation courses. We offer internships to a limited number of students working with the British American Business Council or their membership companies.
Why study this course
- Excellent teaching – we are ranked 2nd in the UK in Guardian League Tables 2015 and 5th in The Complete University Guide 2015 teaching emphasises discussion, group work and independent learning, and is led by enthusiastic, approachable lecturers.
- High student satisfaction – we consistently score highly in the Student Satisfaction Survey with 93% overall satisfaction in 2014.
- Strong research profile - American and Canadian Studies has a strong research profile and one of the most respected of its kind in the world, with academics who are at the forefront of interdisciplinary research into literature, culture, history, film, TV, politics and international relations. This research feeds into teaching on the programme, for example Dr Steve Hewitt offers expert opinion for the BBC and other news organisations and continues his analysis of current events in his foreign policy teaching.
- Innovative assessment - Alongside traditional written assignments we offer a range of learning and assessment methods that develop our students' communication skills and enhance employability. These include the exciting opportunity to develop skills in media production using our state of the art editing suite to produce a documentary film dissertation in the final year.
- Excellent Year Abroad Options – we have links with a huge range of excellent institutions across the US and Canada from which you will be able to choose, as well as the unique option of applying to complete an internship through the BABC.
Open day talk
The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.
Your studies will revolve around core courses in American history and literature (‘Foundations of American History to 1890’ and ‘Foundations of American Literature to 1890’), together with an ‘Introduction to Canadian Studies’ module. A group project 'Research Skills' module provides you with key research and IT skills. You will also take one Module from Outside your Main Discipline (MOMD) which you choose from a wide variety from across the university. Popular choices include Film Studies, Psychology and Modern Languages.
Detailed descriptions of first year modules
You will continue to study history and culture from 1890 to the present in core modules but you will also develop your own interests - political, sociological, literary or multicultural - by selecting 40 credits of specialist options modules.
- American History from 1890
- 20th-Century American Literature and Culture
Options may include modules such as:
• America and the Middle East Through Film
• Emergence of Mass Culture; Hollywood Cinema
• Literature and Illustration
• The Foundations of African-American Experience
• The Thriller: American Crime Fiction
• Fantasy Film and Television
• Signing the Screen: Film and Television Authorship
• Terrorism in America: a History
• North American 1920s: literature and society
Detailed descriptions of second year modules
You will spend the third year in North America . You will begin research for your dissertation this year and the year counts towards your final degree. Please note, you must pass the second year course with a mark of at least 50% to be eligible for study abroad.
You will have the opportunity to study with one of our exchange partner Universities, where you will be free to select from a wide range of American and Canadian civilisation courses. In recent years our students have been to the following universities:
- University of Wyoming-Laramie
- University of Iowa
- University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
- University of Virginia
- University of Mississippi
- University of Cincinnati
- McGill University
- Dalhousie University
- Simon Fraser University
- University of Alabama
- Berry College
- Southern Birmingham College
- University of Ottawa
- University of Toronto
Alternatively, we also offer a limited number of students an internship (a work placement) working with the British American Business Council (the BABC) or a company who have membership of the BABC. We currently have placements based in Chicago, San Francisco and New York City.
More information on the year abroad options
Your final-year modules are drawn from a wide range of options which examine multiculturalism, cross-cultural themes, contemporary literature and film, American international history and politics. You will also complete a substantial research project for your Dissertation.
- Dissertation Or Audio-Visual Dissertation
Options may include modules such as:
• Aesthetics of Television
• CIA US Foreign Policy and International Relations since 1945
• Contemporary European American and European Cinema: Dialogues and Discourses
• Death and the moving image
• Nation and Identity in Nineteenth-Century America
• New York, New York
• Reading and popular culture: contemporary book cultures in North America and UK
• US Foreign Policy and Terrorism
• American Woman since 1945; Anti-Americanism
• Cold War and Film
• Contemporary North American Writing
• New media, social media and politics
• Postcolonial Film
• Postmodern Historical Fictions
• Visualising C19th Networks.
Detailed descriptions of final year modules
Fees and funding
Number of A levels required: 3
Typical offer: AAB-ABB
Required subjects and grades: Preferably English Literature and/or History
General Studies: not accepted
International baccalaureate update
Please note that we have reviewed our policy on the IB Diploma for 2016 entry and our offers will now focus on performance in Higher Level subjects. For more information and details please read our 2016 IB Diploma requirements.
We welcome applications from international students and invite you to join our vibrant community of over 4500 international students who represent 150 different countries. We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.
Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in the Birmingham Foundation Academy, a specially structured programme for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on the foundation academy web pages.
How to apply
Joint Honours combinations
You can study American and Canadian Studies as part of a Joint Honours degree with the following subjects:
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