BA American and Canadian Modules Final Year

Listed below are the modules offered in American and Canadian Studies as part of its Final Year degree programme.


The dissertation 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 dissertation 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.

Value: 40 credits


Audio-Visual Dissertation (alternative to Dissertation)

Students taking the Audio-Visual Dissertation create a short documentary film on an American and Canadian Studies topic using our state-of-the-art Audio-Visual equipment and editing suite and with dedicated technical support. This project is submitted alongside a written defence.

 Value: 40 credits

Optional modules

Example optional modules may include: 

New York, New York

At the start of the twentieth century New York City was becoming the city of modernity; the “cubist city” as Francis Picabia described it. Its metropolitan scale, vibrant, cosmopolitan sidewalk cultures, and the visceral rush of its rapid transit systems demanded new modes of expression from writers (and painters and photographers). The juxtaposition of skyscrapers and tenements created new symbolic and physical urban geographies. This module begins with Henry James, Jose Marti, Abraham Cahan, John Sloan, George Bellows, Alfred Stieglitz, Anzia Yezierska, Claude McKay, Djuna Barnes, Walker Evans, Bernice Abbott and Weejee as they meet the challenges of early-twentieth-century urban representation.

The module goes on to explore changes in the City and its representation over the course of the twentieth century. For the Beat Generation New York was at once oppressive and inspirational; in the 1960s it became a site of countercultural expression and transformation. By the late 1970s the city was on the verge of bankruptcy, a byword for urban decay: the emergence of hip-hop as a visual, verbal and musical counterculture at the end of this decade exemplifies the “creative destruction” – the process of rapid degeneration and regeneration – that characterises the art of the city. From its origins at Bronx block parties to its crossover into mainstream culture, from Grandmaster Flash to Eric B. & Rakim, hip-hop created soundscapes and lyrics that described and reimagined this complex urban environment.

Moving from Henry James to Grandmaster Flash “New York, New York” is, like the City itself, expansive, and so, like the City, needs to be broken down into manageable neighbourhoods. Week-by-week this module explores the ways in which a particular neighbourhood and the literature and culture it fostered - for example Greenwich Village in the 1910s and Harlem in the 1920s - exemplifies or defines a particular New York decade.

Value: 20 credits

Cold War and Film

This module aims to examine American films of the Cold War, predominantly from the period c. 1945-65. The module will examine the political and economic context of the production of film, looking at issues such as political control via McCarthyism and HUAC. Students will then examine a series of films, in order to assess the extent to which film reflected or engaged with social, cultural and political debates of the time, and how these evolved across the Cold War period. The aim of the course is to enable the student to develop skills in both film theory and film history.

Value: 20 credits