BA American and Canadian Studies

This multidisciplinary degree explores the dynamic characteristics of North America and Canada. You will get the chance to explore and inter-relate history, literature, politics and culture. 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. 

Our BA America and Canadian Studies is a coherent, integrated programme which is distinctive in its in-depth consideration of Canada as well as the United States. You will be taught by experts who are leading the way in critical evaluations of North America’s history, culture and sense of itself in the world. Our student satisfaction scores are very high with 93% of students reporting that they are satisfied with the quality of the course and we have excellent employability rates.

Course fact file

UCAS code: T790

Duration: 3 years

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

Start date: September

Details

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 give you 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.

To give a sense of the breadth of study in the course our lecturers have recommended websites, films and books for anyone considering choosing American and Canadian Studies. 

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.
  • Media societies - We have a range of different media societies which you can get involved in, including Redbrick, our weekly full-colour student newspaper, Burn FM, our student radio station, and Guild TV. 

Open day talk

Modules

Please be aware that the following information is intended to provide prospective students with an indicative guide of the modules offered by the School. However, our research is constantly exploring new areas and directions of study, therefore some modules may be dropped and new ones offered in their place.

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 in recent years have included:

  • The Foundations of African-American Experience
  • The African-American Experience from 1945
  • North American Cinemas
  • Filmmaking Practices
  • American Crime Fiction
  • The Twenties: North American Literature and Society
  • Literature and Illustration
  • America and the Middle East
  • Canada and the US Compared

Detailed descriptions of second year modules

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 in recent years have included:

  • Beat Writing and its Aftermath
  • Approaches to US Foreign Policy
  • Anti-Americanism: an examination
  • Cold War Film
  • Contemporary American Fiction
  • Contemporary Canadian Writing
  • Death and the Moving Image
  • Henry James and Edith Wharton
  • CIA: US Foreign Policy and International Relations since 1945
  • Reading and Popular Culture: contemporary book cultures in North America and UK
  • New York, New York
  • The American Woman

Detailed descriptions of final year modules

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply 
Learn more about fees and funding
 
Scholarships
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

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

You can also choose to take a four-year programme which includes a year abroad. The typical offer for our four-year programme is AAB-ABB.

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 www.ucas.com.

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.

Learning and teaching

Dr Richard Langley giving a tutorial 

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

Support

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.

Contact

Admissions and Recruitment Co-ordinator:
Sophia Robertshaw 

Tel:
+44 (0)121 414 5511

Email: 
acs-ug-admissions
@contacts.bham.ac.uk

Related staff

Employability

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.

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.