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. We are currently ranked 1st for American Studies in both the Complete University Guide 2019 and The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019.

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“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. If you want to spend a year in the USA or Canada, then you can apply for our four-year American and Canadian Studies with Year Abroad course.

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 for American Studies in both the Complete University Guide 2019 and The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019. Teaching emphasises discussion, group work and independent learning and is led by enthusiastic, approachable lecturers.
  • Rewarding teaching experience - 97% of our students said they felt our academic staff were good at explaining things and they made the subject interesting, whilst the course itself was intellectually stimulating (NSS 2018).
  • Outstanding employability – 100% of our graduates enter work or full-time study within six months of graduation (DLHE 2017).
  • 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.
  • 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. 


Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2019. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.

First year

Your studies will revolve around core courses in American history and literature.

Compulsory modules:

  • Introduction to American and Canadian Studies
  • Research Skills in American and Canadian Studies
  • Discovering North American Literature A - to 1900
  • Discovering North American Literature B - 1900 onwards 
  • US History 1607 - 1865
  • US History 1865 - 2000

Detailed descriptions of first year modules

Second year

You will continue to study history and culture, but you will also develop your own interests - political, sociological, literary or multicultural - by selecting 80 credits of specialist options modules.

Compulsory modules:

  • Core module 1: 'Yankee Go Home': American-Canadian Relations
  • Core module 2: North America in Crisis: Culture and Politics

Detailed descriptions of second year modules

Year abroad

You can apply to study abroad for a year in an approved university around the world. If you achieve a grade of 2.1 or above in your first year then you will be invited to apply for a Year Abroad in your second year. If your application is successful, you will go abroad in your third year and return to us for your final year. Find out more.

Final year

Your final year modules are drawn from a wide range of options, which examine multiculturalism, cross-cultural themes, contemporary literature and film and American international history and politics. You will also complete a substantial research project for your dissertation.

Compulsory module:

  • Dissertation

Detailed descriptions of final year modules

Fees and funding

For UK students beginning their studies in September 2019, the University of Birmingham will charge the maximum approved tuition fee per year. The fees for your first year of study will therefore be £9,250. Visit our tuition fees page for more information.

Fees for 2019/20 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £9,250
  • Overseas: £17,640

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
  • Students who are classed as overseas for fee purposes are required to pay 50% of their normal annual tuition fee

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:
General Studies:
Not accepted

Additional information:

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

BTEC qualifications:

  • BTEC Extended Diploma: DDD.
  • BTEC Diploma: DD, plus B at A-level.
  • BTEC Subsidiary Diploma: D, plus AB at A-level.

Other qualifications are considered - learn more about entry requirements.

You can also choose to take a four-year programme which includes a year abroad. 

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

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 advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.
  • Wellbeing officers - We have dedicated wellbeing officers 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

Throughout your American and Canadian Studies degree you can expect about 10 contact hours per week. 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.

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 will have the skills 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. Many 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.

100% of our graduates enter work or full-time study within six months of graduation (DLHE 2017). 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.