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
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.
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 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
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 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
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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