American and Canadian Studies and English BA

If you have a passion for exploring literature, culture, history and society, this is the perfect degree programme for you.

In your multidisciplinary study of the US and Canada you will explore their dynamic cultural, historical and political characteristics.

On the English side of your programme you can choose to follow either a Literature or Language pathway. On the Literature pathway you would investigate the ways in which literary culture has engaged with and shaped society and continues to do so today. On the Language pathway, your English study would provide you with a deep understanding of the linguistic, social and political issues surrounding language and its use.

At Birmingham you will benefit from internationally renowned research and teaching in all of these disciplines, as well as unparalleled resources including: our state-of-the-art AV equipment for film-making practice; a world-leading corpus linguistics centre and unparalleled resources for the study of Shakespeare.

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Megan Earle

Megan Earle

“Being able to study such a broad range of topics, particularly in second year when there are such a variety of modules to chose from. Doing American and English novels also is interesting to study in contrast and see the difference between cultures.”

Our Joint Honours American and Canadian Studies and English programme offers you the opportunity to combine American and Canadian Studies with one of two English pathways, either Literature or Language.

The American and Canadian Studies side of your programme will give you a thorough grounding in the history, literature, politics and culture of the U.S. and Canada before giving you the opportunity to focus on the areas of the discipline that most interest you, from America’s role in world politics to the crime fiction genre. We are ranked 1st for American Studies in the Guardian University Guide 2017 and the Complete University Guide 2017.

If you take the Literature pathway you will be given a strong foundation in all major periods and genres and will be able to specialise in a huge range of different areas from medieval poetry to twenty-first century digital literary culture. You will also have the opportunity to take our specialist second-year Shakespeare module and the possibility of participating in our study residential in Stratford-upon-Avon.

If you choose the Language pathway you will gain a thorough appreciation of the technical aspects of the English language and its social and political context. We have a wide range of different specialisms to pursue which can prepare you for a wide range of different careers from speech therapy to journalism.

Why study this course

  • Excellent reputation – American and Canadian Studies at Birmingham is ranked 1st in the Complete University Guide 2017 and Guardian University Guide 2017, whilst over 85% of our English research was judged to be ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ in the 2014 national Research Excellence Framework exercise.
  • Guest lectures - you will be able to enjoy regular guest lectures and readings from visiting writers. Recent guests have included novelist David Lodge, poet and writer Jackie Kay, poet Simon Armitage, playwright Simon Stephens, theatre director Greg Doran and poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy.
  • 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.
  • Stratford residential – if you are on the English Literature pathway you will have the opportunity to take part in our very popular residential study trip to Stratford-upon-Avon. This includes lectures, creative workshops, theatre trips and other cultural activities, offers academic and creative inspiration and the opportunity to socialise with staff and fellow students.
  • Year abroad opportunity – you will have the opportunity to apply to take a year abroad between your second and final years through our Study Abroad Scheme. We have a huge range of partner institutions from which to choose, including many across the U.S. and Canada.

Open day talks

Full videos on YouTube of recent open day talks relevant to this course:

Modules

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.

Your first year of study is split equally between your two disciplines (60 credits in each subject). Following this, you have flexible options to alter your balance of study, meaning that you could take 80 credits in one subject and 40 in the other in either or both of years 2 and 3, or stay with the 60/60 balance. This flexibility allows you to tailor the course throughout your degree programme, once you have had the time and experience to consider where your strengths and interests lie. You can also write a Link Dissertation combining your two subjects in your final year.

You can see more information about the different modules and options on the links below. Within the English side of your programme you can follow either a Literature or a Language pathway.

First year

American and Canadian Studies

In your first year you take three compulsory foundation courses:

  • Foundations of American history to 1890
  • Foundation of American literature to 1890
  • Introduction to Canadian Studies

English Language : Your first year modules will introduce you to many different aspects of language and its use. You will take three compulsory modules: 'English Language: Sounds, Structures, and Words', 'Investigating Language', and 'Theories of Language'. These modules combine to create an excellent foundation for your study and research in subsequent years.

English Literature: Your first-year modules in Joint Honours English will introduce you to the key genres of English Literature across a wide historical and international span, and train you in new ways of thinking about literature. By studying compulsory modules on 'Poetry', 'Prose' and 'Plays and Performance', you will develop the close reading skills needed to analyse all kinds of texts, from medieval plays and early modern poetry to contemporary drama. You will also develop new understanding of how the historical and cultural contexts in which literature is produced and read can shape its meaning.

Second year

American and Canadian Studies

In your second year you take two compulsory modules:

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

Then depending on the credits you are taking in American and Canadian studies, you have a range of optional modules to choose from, which may include:

  • America and the Middle East through Film
  • The Emergence of Mass Culture
  • Hollywood Cinema
  • Literature and Illustration
  • The Foundations of African-American Experience
  • The Thriller: American Crime Fiction
  • The African-American Experience from 1945
  • Fantasy Film and Television
  • Signing the Screen: Film and Television Authorship
  • Terrorism in America: a History
  • North American 1920s: Literature and Society

English Language : In your second year you will take two compulsory modules: 'Research Skills in English Language' and 'English Grammar'. If you take more than 40 credits in English you will also have a range of modules to choose from.

English Literature : The second year of your degree is an excellent opportunity to build on the new interests and passions that you discovered in your first-year modules. You can choose between modules in 'Histories of Literature' to deepen your knowledge and understanding of all literary periods from medieval to the present day. If you take 80 credits in English you will take the Shakespeare module - 'Shakespeare: Elizabethan and Jacobean' - as a compulsory module.

Final year

American and Canadian Studies : In your final year modules are all optional and you can choose from a wide range. You will also have the opportunity to complete either an extended essay on a research topic of your choice, or some of your credits will be taken up as part of a ‘link’ Dissertation between your two disciplines.

Compulsory element:

  • Dissertation or
  • Audio-Visual Dissertation (alternative to Dissertation)

If you wish to do 40, 60 or 80 credits in American and Canadian Studies you will also take one, two or three optional modules which may include:

  • Aesthetics of Television
  • CIA US Foreign Policy and International Relations since 1945
  • Contemporary 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

English Language : Your final year modules are mainly optional and you can choose from a wide range of modules. If you will take 80 credits in English, you will complete either a Dissertation or Language Investigation, the culmination of your development as an undergraduate researcher.

English Literature : Depending on whether you elect to take 80, 60 or 40 credits in English Literature, you will take a number of the Special Subject modules plus either a 12,000-word Dissertation or a 6,000-word Extended Essay on a subject of your choice, for which you will be supervised by an expert in the field.

Fees and funding

The Government has announced that it will raise the cap for undergraduate fees in line with inflation. Assuming that the relevant regulations are passed by Parliament, which is expected to happen in Autumn 2016, the University of Birmingham will increase fees to the revised amount, expected to be £9,250 for home/EU students. Visit our tuition fees page for more information.

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2017/18 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £9,250 - TBC
  • 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:
3
Typical offer:
AAB

Additional information:

BTEC Extended Diploma, Diploma and Subsidiary Diploma are all considered on a case by case basis.

Please be aware that you will need to meet the subject specific requirements for both subject areas within the degree programme - please check their Single Honours coursefinder entries for more information. If you need further guidance please contact us.

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements.

International students:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 6,6,5 in Higher level subjects plus 32 points overall.

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

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

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 advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.
  • Welfare tutors - We have dedicated welfare tutors who provide professional support, advice and guidance to students across a range of issues. They can meet with you to discuss extensions, disabilities, reasonable adjustments, extenuating circumstances, or talk through any problems you might be experiencing, and help you access wider support on campus and beyond.
  • 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.

During your first year it is important that you have a smooth transition into university. You will be able to talk to your tutors about this and discuss if there are particular areas where you need support.

Teaching staff

Students at the University of Birmingham are taught by a mixture of professors, senior lecturers, lecturers and doctoral researchers, thereby receiving a rich diversity of academic knowledge and experience. Many of our teaching staff have published important works about their areas of expertise, whilst others have taught at international institutions and can offer unique perspectives of their subjects.

You can find out more about the members of staff (including their qualifications, publication history and specific areas of interest) in their academic profiles linked below.

Contact hours

On the American and Canadian Studies side of your degree you can expect approximately 6 hours of contact time per week throughout your studies. This will be made up of a combination of lectures and seminars in your first and second years. In your final year this will also include 1 to 1 supervision meetings with a lecturer who will support you as you conduct independent research.

Whether you choose either the Literature or Language pathway, you can expect about 6 contact hours per week throughout the English side of your degree.

For the Langauge pathway this will be made up of a combination of workshops, lectures and seminars. In your second and final years this will also include 1 to 1 supervision meetings with a lecturer who will support you as you conduct independent research.

Literature classes will be made up lectures and seminars and the independent research you will conduct in your final year will be supported by 1 to 1 supervision meetings with a lecturer.

Outside of this timeframe, lecturers will be on hand during office hours to answer questions and the Academic Writing Advisory Service and the Careers Network run workshops throughout the academic year.

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.

The principal means of assessment for English are coursework essays and written exams.

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, have excellent critical thinking skills, 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 excel in intellectual analysis.

As a graduate from this programme you will have a vast potential to enter a wide range of careers, including government, the media, publishing, law, accountancy, advertising, marketing, 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
• Headline Publishing Group
• Mirror Group Newspapers
• the National Youth Theatre

Graduate roles are equally diverse:

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

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.

Over 50% of job vacancies advertised for new and recent graduates do not specify a degree subject, so 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 students 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.

 

[Video above - Dr Daniel Moore discusses careers and employability during the English Literature open day presentation]

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.

Accommodation

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.