This programme brings together the literature, history, culture and politics of North America, alongside the wider study of global history in all its rich diversity.
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.
The History department has an equally broad set of expertise. Whatever your interests - whether cultural, social, military, political, economic or religious history - there is someone in the department teaching to your interests. The size and quality of the department enables us to offer you a wide range of options across the medieval, early modern and modern periods, and over a vast geographical span. Moreover, historians in other departments in the University share offer expertise in the fields of Byzantine and African history, which broaden your learning opportunities even further.
Furthermore, to give a sense of the breadth of study in American and Canadian Studies, our lecturers have recommended websites, films and books for anyone considering choosing this degree.
Why study this course
- Excellent teaching – our American and Canadian Studies department is ranked 2nd in the UK in Guardian League Tables 2015 and 5th in The Complete University Guide 2015. Similarly, the History department is one of the largest and most diverse in Britain, with over 30 full-time academic staff operating on an international level.
- High student satisfaction – our History degree is designed to provide both academic excellence and vocational development – a balance that is highly sought after by employers. Meanwhile, our American and Canadian Studies department consistently scores 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. Dr Steve Hewitt offers his expert opinion for the BBC and other news organisations, and continues his analysis of current events in his foreign policy teaching. Furthermore, our History department was ranked first in the country in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.
- 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.
- Access to a wide variety of resources from the University's Library (which is situated next to the History Department) and the Hilton and Styles Libraries in the Arts Building itself. The University Special Collections houses some 60,000 rare and early printed books and upwards of 2 million manuscript and archive items.
Hear from our students
Open day talks
Full videos on YouTube of recent open day talks relevant to this course:
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.
In this programme, you study half of your modules (60 credits) in American and Canadian Studies (ACS) and half in History (60 credits)
ACS: You take three foundation courses:
- American History to 1890, which includes examination of social, political and cultural themes
- Literature up to 1890, which analyses literary, visual and film texts
- An introduction to Canadian Studies
History: The first year is the foundational year in an academic process that will see you progress from being a dependent to an independent learner. You will study modules spanning the early medieval to late modern periods. You can choose either Discovering the Middle Ages and Living in the Middle Ages or The Making of the Modern World 1500-1815 and The Making of the Contemporary World 1815-2000 (20 credits per module). These explore fundamental themes and issues focused on key periods and indicate the kinds of questions historians explore and some of the methods they employ in answering them. You will also study Practising History (A): Skills in History (Autumn semester) and Practising History (B): Approaches to History (Spring semester), which look more closely at the techniques of the historian and at the nature and evolution of key historical debates.
ACS: You study history and culture from 1890 to the present and begin to develop your own interests, be these political, sociological, literary or multicultural, by selecting specialist options from a list that includes:
- The African-American Experience
- The CIA and International History
- Film-making practices (which can include some practical training)
History: The second year is an intermediate year that builds on the foundations laid in the first year of study. You engage in Group Research and extend your historical knowledge through two (20 + 20) subject-specific modules chosen from a wide range of available from Option A in the Autumn semester and Option B in the Spring.
ACS: Your final year courses are drawn from a wide range of options including Anti-Americanism, a variety of options exploring cross-cultural themes in American and Canadian History, and including courses in Modern and Contemporary Literature and Film. At the very centre of your studies is a year long project, entitled The Extended Essay, which gives you a chance to develop your own interests in depth. The extended essay differs from other modules and poses a greater challenge, and greater opportunity for personal development and originality. University taught courses provide a syllabus and bibliography, and the assessment generally explores a major theme of the course, sometimes by further recommended reading, or examines comprehensive understanding. The extended essay has quite different objectives. The final year project is the pinnacle of undergraduate education and illustrates skills acquired through years of university study in research conceived and executed independently.
History: The third year represents the culmination of undergraduate study and the final stage of your transition to an independent learner. You hone your historical skills in Advanced Option A or Advanced Option B and you also undertake an in-depth Special Subject module, which is chosen from a variety of available subjects.
Fees and funding
Number of A levels required: 3
Typical offer: AAB
Required subjects and grades: A Level History, Medieval History or Ancient History at grade A
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
Key Information Set (KIS)
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