BA American and Canadian Studies with year abroad

This multidisciplinary degree explores the dynamic characteristics of North America and Canada. From analyzing American film to studying the workings of Washington to reading modern American fiction, from examining the War on Terror to considering slavery and its legacies, from studying film to reading modern literature– you’ll get the chance to explore history, literature, politics and culture. Your year abroad encourages personal development and is the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture. Our students find the year abroad a rewarding and exciting time. The experience that you gain will also prove to be a major asset to you in a competitive job market.  

Student satisfaction scores for American and Canadian Studies at Birmingham are very high with 92% of students reporting that they are satisfied with the quality of the course. American and Canadian Studies graduates from Birmingham benefit from a higher than average rate of employability for the subject, with 95% going into work or study within six months of graduation. The wide range of posts they have secured includes roles in government, the media, law, human resources, teaching and research. 

Course fact file

UCAS code: T700

Duration: 4 years

Places Available: 17

Applications in 2011: 158

Typical Offer: AAB-ABB (More detailed entry requirements and the international qualifications accepted can be found in the course details)

Start date: September


The American and Canadian Studies with year abroad BA begins by giving students a foundation in the core disciplines of American history, American literature and Canadian Studies, as well introducing crucial research skills through project-based learning. In subsequent years you’ll continue to study these core disciplines, at the same time as developing your own individual programme of study by selecting from options in history, literature, film or visual studies.

First year

At its core, this programme first revolves around the study of North American history and literature and then branches out to explore politics, culture, film and the United States’ international relations, in ways that become increasingly specialised. These elements can be combined in different ways and to different degrees depending on how your interests evolve. Opportunity exists to present assessments in a variety of forms, including audio-visual modes.

You take a foundation course in American History and Literature up to 1890, together with an introduction to Canadian Studies. A group project module provides you with key research and IT skills. An ancillary study of a subject such as Film Studies will also be undertaken.

Second year

You will continue to study history and culture from 1890 to the present but you’ll also develop your own interests - political, sociological, literary or multicultural - by selecting specialist options modules – be these political, sociological, literary or multicultural .You will also get the chance to become an exchange student at the Free University, Berlin's J F Kennedy Institute.A group project 'skills' module provides you with key research and IT skills and you can also take additional subjects such as Film Studies. Second year modules have included:

Third Year - Your Year Abroad

You will spend the third year in North America studying with one of our exchange partner Universities. Once at these Universities you are 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

While abroad you are free to study a wide range of American and Canadian civilisation courses and to begin research on your dissertation, which is then completed in the final year of study back in Birmingham. This year abroad 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.

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. Currently, these internships are located in Chicago, but, working with the BABC, we expect to broaden this programme out to take in other US cities in future years. In the third year you research your dissertation, which is then completed in the final year of study back in Birmingham. The year abroad counts towards your final degree.

Final year

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. At the very centre of your studies is a year long Dissertation project, which gives you a chance to develop your own interests in considerable depth, whilst learning how to handle a sustained programme of research.

Meet this year's graduates

Why study this course

  • The Department has a strong research profile (ranked joint second in the last national Research Assessment Exercise) and a real commitment to bringing our research into the classroom. For example, Dr Danielle Fuller’s final year module Reading and Popular Culture explores ideas developed in her Beyond the Book research project, while Professor Scott Lucas and Dr Steve Hewitt offer expert opinion for the BBC, Al Jazeera and other new organisations and continue their analysis of current events in their foreign policy teaching.
  • Ranked 5th in the UK in Guardian League Tables 2013 and The Complete University Guide 2013, and consistently scoring highly on student satisfaction in the National Student Survey, teaching in the Department emphasises discussion, group work and independent learning, and is led by enthusiastic, approachable lecturers. Our lecturers have recommended websites, films and books for anyone considering choosing American and Canadian Studies here.
  • Alongside traditional written assignments the Department offers 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.
  • We also offer a limited number of student internships in the US or Canada (we currently have placements based in Chicago, San Francisco, and New York City). Working with the British American Business Council (BABC), we provide academic mentoring and a structured programme that make our internships a unique work experience and networking opportunity.
  • Our four year single and joint honours programmes provide the opportunity to spend a Year Abroad at one of our wide range of American and Canadian partner universities that include University of Alabama, University of Virginia, Pitzer College, University of British Columbia (Vancouver) and University of Toronto. Your year abroad will help you stand out in a competitive job market. Employers are likely to be impressed with the skills you have developed and you will also be able to demonstrate your personal development and confidence through this experience. 

The American and Canadian Studies Department at Birmingham is one of the most respected of its kind in the world, consistently rated highly in the UK teaching and research rankings. Part of the School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, we offer exciting opportunities, first-class facilities and a commitment to excellence in teaching. Study here and you’ll have the privilege of learning from academics who are at the forefront of interdisciplinary research into literature, culture, history, film and TV, politics and international relations.

At Birmingham, you’ll benefit from an intellectually challenging and stimulating environment for your undergraduate studies, focused on ensuring you’re a fully supported and active learner. Our unique degrees are designed to provide both academic excellence and vocational development; a balance that’s highly sought after by employers in today's intellectual and creative industries. The courses are also very flexible, allowing you to specialise more and more as you progress, culminating in a final-year dissertation that allows you to carry out in-depth, individually supervised research into topics of your choice.

Open day talk

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply 
Learn more about fees and funding
Learn more about our scholarships and awards

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required: 3

Typical offer: AAB-ABB

Required subjects and grades: Preferably English Literature and/or History

General Studies: not accepted

Additional information:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 34-36 points

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements

International students:

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

Apply through UCAS at

Learn more about applying

Joint Honours combinations

Key Information Set (KIS)

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The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.

Learning and teaching

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. At Birmingham we advocate an enquiry based learning approach, from the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.

Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning (for example preparing and delivering presentations with your classmates).


To begin with you may find this way of working challenging, but rest assured that we will enable you to make this transition. You will have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues, and a formal transition review during your first year to check on your progress and offer you help for any particular areas where you need support.

Our Academic Skills Centre also offers you support with your learning. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. It is the centre's aim to help you to become a more effective and independent learner through the use of a range of high-quality and appropriate learning support services. These range from drop-in sessions to workshops on a range of topics including note taking, reading, writing and presentation skills.

From the outset, you will be assigned your own Personal Tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies, providing academic and welfare advice, encouraging you and offering assistance in any areas you may feel you need extra support to make the most of your potential and your time here at Birmingham.

The Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) will provide you with individual support from an academic writing advisor and postgraduate subject-specialist writing tutors. You will receive guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level which can be quite different from your previous experiences of writing. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, feedback through email and tutorials.

Student experience

Supporting you throughout your transition to University, offering research opportunities and study skills support and helping you develop and prepare for your post-University careers - our Arts and Law Student Experience Team strive to help you get the most out of your academic experience.


Assessment methods

Studying at degree-level is likely to be very different from your previous experience of learning and teaching. You will be expected to think, discuss and engage critically with the subject and find things out for yourself. We will enable you to make this transition to a new style of learning, and the way that you are assessed during your studies will help you develop the essential skills you need to make a success of your time at Birmingham.

You will be assessed in a variety of ways, and these may be different with each module that you take. You will be assessed through coursework which may take the form of essays, group and individual presentations and formal exams (depending on your chosen degree).

During your first year you will undergo a formal 'transition' review to see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support. This is in addition to the personal tutor who is based in your school or department and can help with any academic issues you encounter.

At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed for that particular programme of study. You will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done. You will be given feedback on any exams that you take; if you should fail an exam we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is made available to enable you to learn for the future.


As a student of American and Canadian Studies you’ll have an excellent opportunity to develop skills that are highly prized by employers, as well as benefitting from the diversity offered by this multidisciplinary degree. Our graduates understand complex information, write clearly and effectively, can build a case for a particular view, strategy or course of action, respect the views of others even if they disagree with them, and generally think for themselves.   Your year abroad will be an asset to you when you apply for jobs. Talking about your experiences abroad will help you stand out in job interviews and help to demonstrate your confidence and maturity to employers. 

Over 50% of job vacancies advertised for new and recent graduates don’t specify a degree subject, so as a graduate of American and Canadian Studies you’ve a vast potential to enter a wide range of careers, including government, the media, law, accountancy, advertising, human resources and retail management, teaching, research and many other types of employment that offer graduate entry schemes. About 25% of our graduates choose postgraduate study to extend their knowledge of this and similar disciplines, or to prepare for careers such as law and teaching.

The University of Birmingham has graduate employability rates for American and Canadian Studies graduates are above the national average and in the top 10 UK universities for the subject. Ninety -five per cent of our American and Canadian Studies graduates go into work or study within six months of graduation. They start careers with employers including the BBC, Freud Communications, Maverick TV and the National Youth Theatre, in roles as diverse as Business Development Executive, Events Co-ordinator, Financial Analyst, Marketing Executive, Production Assistant, Research Assistant and Youth Mentor.

Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal. This is a unique careers guidance service tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team who can give you expert advice. This includes individual careers advice and events to give you insight into the professions and employers of interest to arts graduates. Our 'Creative careers' series is always popular with our students, and features events with employers and professionals from areas such as advertising, PR and communications, careers in journalism and writing, and careers in the theatre.

We also hold events covering careers in teaching, event management, marketing and working with charities; our internship officer develops links with local arts organisations to create some amazing opportunities for students; and you can even apply for our ‘Global Challenge’ to work overseas on an expenses paid placement during your summer vacation.

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you will need to think about engaging in some extra-curricular activities while you're at university to broaden your skills and your network of contacts. This can include the many societies at the Guild of Students and also the many voluntary opportunities offered with local arts organisations. Our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.

Our College of Arts and Law undergraduate research scholarship scheme enables interested students to work on a current academic research project being run by one of the College's academic researchers. Undergraduate research scholars gain work experience over the summer after their first or second year and have the chance to develop skills in both collaborative and independent research.

Cultural Internships

Our innovative Cultural Internships offer graduates the opportunity for a six month paid internship at a leading cultural institution in the West Midlands. These internships are a unique opportunity to learn fundamental, transferable business and interpersonal skills, through experience of real work in an established cultural institution. Our current partners include Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham Royal Ballet, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust and the Library of Birmingham. We have plans to expand the scheme to include our own major cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. This scheme will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market.

We also offer voluntary work which complements your studies by helping you gain practical experiences in occupational settings while contributing back to society. This can bring new skills that will be useful throughout your future and can make a positive impact on your learning whilst at university. Volunteering enables you to develop skills such as communication, interpersonal skills, teamwork, self-confidence and self-discipline all of which can be transferred into your studies.

Your Birmingham degree is evidence of your ability to succeed in a demanding academic environment. Employers target Birmingham students for their drive, diversity, communication and problem-solving skills, their team-working abilities and cultural awareness, and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.