BA American and Canadian Studies with year abroad

This multidisciplinary degree explores the dynamic characteristics of North America and Canada and gives you the opportunity to explore and inter-relate history, literature, politics and culture.

At the University of Birmingham, the variety of topics include analysing American film, studying book illustrations, reading modern American fiction, studying the workings of Washington, examining the War on Terror and considering the legacies of slavery. 

For your Year Abroad you are able to either study for a year at one of our partner institutions or complete a business internship. Both options allow you to immerse yourself in another culture – a major asset in a competitive job market. If you choose to study BA American and Canadian Studies with year abroad, you have the option of transferring to an integrated Masters programme for your third and fourth years of study.

Alice Froude

Alice Froude

“I couldn’t possibly identify the most enjoyable part of the course. My year abroad in Canada at Trent University was amazing, but at the same time I missed Birmingham. The friends I have met and the social/community aspect of my course and the campus has made it so easy to meet such a vast group of people. My course is very diverse so I have always had the option to study what I want, so I have always enjoyed it.”

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. 


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.

First year

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

Second year

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.

Core modules

  • American History from 1890
  • 20th-Century American Literature and Culture

Optional modules

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

Year Abroad

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

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. You will also complete a substantial research project for your Dissertation.

Core module

  • Dissertation Or Audio-Visual Dissertation

Optional modules

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

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

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required:
Typical offer:
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.

Additional information:

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

You can study American and Canadian Studies as part of a Joint Honours degree with the following subjects:

Key Information Set (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.

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.

University of Birmingham students are part of an academic elite and learn from world-leading experts. We will challenge you to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers.

You will have a diverse learning experience, including:

  • lectures
  • small group tutorials
  • independent study
  • and peer group learning, such as delivering presentations with your classmates


You will have access to a comprehensive support system to help you make the transition to Higher Education.

  • Personal tutors - You will be assigned your own personal tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies. They will provide academic support and welfare advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.
  • Transition review - you will undergo a formal transition review during your first year with an academic member of staff. They will see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support.
  • Academic Skills Centre - the centre aims to help you become a more effective and independent learner through a range of high-quality support services. The centre offers workshops on a range of topics, such as note-taking, reading, academic writing and presentation skills.
  • Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) - the AWAS team will provide guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level. You will receive individual support from an academic writing advisor and meet with postgraduate tutors who specialise in particular subjects. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, tutorials and email correspondence.
  • Student experience - our Student Experience Team will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They will offer research opportunities, study skills support and help you prepare for your post-university careers. They will also organise social events, such as field trips, to help you meet fellow students from your course.

Assessment methods

Assessments - you will be assessed in a variety of ways to help you transition to a new style of learning. At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed. Assessments methods will vary with each module and could include:

  • coursework, such as essays
  • group and individual presentations
  • and formal exams

Feedback - you will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so you can learn from each assignment. You will also be given feedback on any exams that you take. If you should fail an exam, we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is provided to help you prepare for future exams.

As a student of American and Canadian Studies, you will 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.

As a graduate of American and Canadian Studies, you have 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.

Our graduates start careers with employers, including:

  • the BBC
  • Freud Communications
  • Maverick TV
  • the National Youth Theatre

Graduate roles are equally diverse:

  • Business Development Executive
  • Events Co-ordinator
  • Financial Analyst
  • Marketing Executive
  • Production Assistant
  • Research Assistant
  • Youth Mentor

Developing your career

Employers target University of Birmingham students for their diverse skill-set and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of our wide range of opportunities you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

  • Careers events - we hold events covering careers in teaching, event management, marketing and working with charities to help you meet potential employers and learn more about these sectors.
  • Global Challenge - you can apply to work overseas on an expenses-paid placement during your summer vacation through our Global Challenge initiative.
  • Work experience bursary - we encourage you to apply your skills in the workplace by undertaking internships in the summer. Our work experience bursaries allow you to apply for funding to support you during unpaid internships.
  • 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 will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market. Our current partners include Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham REP, Birmingham Royal Ballet, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust, Library of Birmingham.

There are also internships available at our own cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you will need to think about engaging in some extra-curricular activities to broaden your skills and network of contacts.

  • Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme - 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 our 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.
  • Personal Skills Award - 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.
  • Guild of Students - there is a vast number of student groups and volunteering opportunities offered by the Guild of Students, which cover a wide variety of interests.

Birmingham has transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Clubs and societies

The Guild has over 200 Societies, community volunteering groups and associations for you to join; they cover every topic and activity that you can think of - there really is something for everyone.

Student Experience Officers

Our Student Experience Officers will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They will offer research opportunities, study skills support and help you prepare for your post-university careers. They will also organise social events, such as field trips, to help you meet fellow students from your course.


Coming to Birmingham might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and culture, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work.

Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.