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 95% of students reporting that they are satisfied with the quality of the course and we have excellent employability rates.

Grace Gibbs

Grace Gibbs

“I chose American and Canadian Studies as I wanted to expand my learning and try something different by choosing a multidisciplinary degree. What interests me about this subject is how much I do not know but learn along the way. My favourite module so far has been American History 1890-1945 because the lectures were interesting and diverse and the seminars were very engaging. Being a student here also allows you to get involved in extracurricular activities where you learn beneficial skills for life after university.”

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  1st in The Complete University Guide and 8th in the UK in Guardian League Tables and 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 95% overall satisfaction.
  • 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


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 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

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2016/17 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £9,000
  • Overseas: £13,860

Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

For further information on tuition fees, living costs and available financial support, please see our pages on undergraduate fees and funding.

Tuition fees when studying abroad

For those spending a whole academic year abroad (where available):

  • Students who are classed as home/EU for fees purposes are required to pay 15% of their normal annual tuition fee; for 2016/17 this will be £1,350
  • Students who are classed as overseas for fee purposes are required to pay 50% of their normal annual tuition fee; for 2016/17 this will be £6,930

For those studying abroad for just one semester (where available), normal annual tuition fees apply.

Note - Study abroad opportunities vary between courses; please see the course description for details of study abroad options offered.

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

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 one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International 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:

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.

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


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.

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 10% 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.

International students

The University of Birmingham has been welcoming international students onto our campus since 1900.

We have one of the largest and most vibrant international student communities in the UK, with 5,000 international students from more than 150 different countries and 31% of our academic staff from overseas.

If you would like further information about entry requirements, how to apply and funding options, then you can visit our international students webpage. You may also wish to take a virtual tour of our campus and watch the video below to hear our international students say their favourite thing about the University of Birmingham.