American History 1: 1607-1900
You will be provided with a broad introduction to the history of the United States of America, from its colonial origins to the end of the nineteenth century. You'll spend around four hours per week in lectures and seminars studying this module.
American History 2: 1900-Present Day
You’ll examine the history of the United States in the twentieth century, assessing changes and developments in the lives of the American people who have faced the challenges of prosperity, depression, war, liberal reform, political conservatism, minority protests, multicultural awareness, and international power. Around 4 hours per week will be spent in lectures and seminars studying this module.
Approaches to Contemporary American Culture 1 and 2
This module introduces students to some of the key facets of American culture with a focus on the contemporary period since 1990. The emphasis will be on texts and cultural artefacts beyond those encountered in the core modules on American Literature and American History. You will focus on a variety of forms, for example, music, painting, cinema, television and various genres of writing. The module will help you to move between different parts of the undergraduate programme, while encouraging you to think critically about some of the assumptions that you bring to the subject. You will spend around 3 hours per week in seminars and lectures.
This module will provide you with the learning skills necessary to make the most of your studies in history. You will be introduced to different approaches in the study of history as well as to different understandings of the functions served by engagement with the past. The module aims to encourage more effective learning, bridge the transition from school or college to university, prepare you for more advanced work in the discipline, and enhance the skills listed. You will spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.
Introduction to the Medieval World, 500-1500
This module provides an introduction to medieval European history in the period 500-1500. It offers a fresh and stimulating approach to the major forces instrumental in the shaping of politics, society and culture in Europe. Through a series of thematically linked lectures and seminars, students will be introduced to key factors determining changes in the European experience over time, as well as important continuities linking the period as a whole. Amongst the topics to be considered are: political structures and organization; social and economic life and cultural developments. You will spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.
From Reformation to Revolution: an introduction to early modern history, 1500-1789
This module introduces you to major issues in the social, political and cultural history of Europe in the early modern period by analysing demographic, religious, social and cultural changes that took place between 1500 and 1789. You will examine the tensions produced by warfare, religious conflict, the changing relationships between rulers, subjects and political elites, trends in socio-economic development and the discovery of the ‘New World’. You will spend two hours per week in lectures and seminars.
Roads to Modernity: An Introduction to Modern History 1789-1945
In the first semester the module provides a chronology of modern history from 1789 to 1945 which concentrates principally on key political developments in European and global history such as the French Revolution, the expansion of the European empires and the two world wars. The second semester will look more broadly at economic, social and cultural issues, such as industrialisation, urbanisation, changing artistic forms and ideological transformations in order to consider the nature of modernity. You will spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.
The Contemporary World since 1945
The module surveys and analyses some of the main developments in world affairs since the end of the Second World War. This includes major international events, particularly the course and aftermath of the Cold War, as well as national and regional histories, especially in Europe, East Asia and the Middle East; the module also looks at key political and social movements. Attention is paid to political, economic and social forces, with students spending five hours per week in lectures and seminars.
Key Texts in Social and Political Thought
From its colonial past to its present status as a global superpower, American history has been riven with debates about society and politics. This module will reconstruct these debates by analysing key texts in the history of American political and social thought, from the settlement period to the present. You will be introduced to debates over such perennial issues as religion, race, class, capitalism, gender, sexuality, and war, as they arose in different periods. We will use primary sources to probe and interpret these debates, and show how they continue to shape American society and politics in the present. For this module you will spend around four hours per week in lectures, seminars and workshops.
African American History and Culture
This module examines African American history and culture from slavery to the present through a series of case studies that highlight forms of cultural advocacy and resistance. Examples may include the persistence of African elements in slave culture, the emergence of new artistic forms in art, religion and music during the segregation era, and the range and complexity of African American engagement with US public culture since the 1960s across art, literature and popular culture. You will spend 3 hours per week studying this module.
This module will examine American radicals since the American Revolution. Nineteenth-century subjects will include the abolitionists, early feminism, utopian socialism, anarchism, and farmer populism. Twentieth-century subjects will include the Socialist Party in the 1910s, the Communist Party and the anti-Stalinist left in the 1930s, opponents of the Cold War, the 1960s New Left, Black Power militancy, and recent radicalisms, including the gay liberation movement, women's liberation, and resistance to corporate globalization. You will spend 3 hours per week studying this module.
The US and the World in the American Century: US Foreign Policy (1898-2008)
This module examines how America’s involvement abroad has changed over time from the war of 1898 to the twenty-first century. It analyses how traditional political and diplomatic issues, the link between foreign and domestic policies, and the role of foreign actors and private organisations—from religious groups to NGOs—have shaped America’s actions abroad. It also explores the significance of race, gender, emotions, and religion in shaping US foreign policy. You will spend 3 hours per week studying this module.
This module examines the history of American popular music in the Twentieth Century, focusing on the major genres and exploring the artistic, cultural and political issues they raise. You will examine music’s aesthetic qualities genre by genre, as well as key developments within the music industry, the ways in which commercial and technological changes have influenced the production and consumption of music, and the ways in which musicians and audiences use pop music to engage with American culture and society. You'll spend around 4 hours per week in lectures and seminars for this module.
American Violence: A History
This module analyses the patterns and prevalence of violence in the USA. It will consider theories about its origins in frontier settler societies, the relationship between violence and the gun control debate and the related issue of American ideological antipathy to state power. It will consider the celebration of violence as a source of conflict resolution and examine the US government’s use of violence as an instrument of foreign policy. You will spend 3 hours per week studying this module.
North American Film and Television
This module examines the form and content of North American cinema and television in the twenty-first century and the forces and trends shaping the nature of American and Canadian films and television programmes. Topics for discussion will include the different film and broadcasting industries in the US and Canada, representation of the past in contemporary cinema and television, representations of technology, identity, gender, and race, and the Canada-US border. If you study this module you’ll spend around 2 hours in lectures and seminars, and 2.5 hours in film workshops, per week.
Immigration and Ethnicity in the United States
This course examines the history of immigration to the United States from Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. It traces the development of immigrant communities, cultures and identities from the nineteenth century to the present day. The module draws on historical, literary and cultural texts, with sources ranging from political cartoons, fiction and testimony to photography, documentary film, digital art and video performance. You will spend 3 hours per week studying this module.
A History of Crime and Punishment
This module explores the history of crime and punishment in the United States from the period of the US Civil War through to the post-World War II/Cold War years. It looks at the shift from public to ‘private’ punishments, including the early nineteenth century ‘invention’ of the penitentiary and development of ‘modern’ police and the emergence of distinct regional differences in rates of violent crime and official responses. You will spend 3 hours per week in lectures and seminars.
Heroes and Villains in the Middle Ages
The module compares and contrasts key historical, legendary and fictional figures to examine the development of western medieval values and ideologies such as monasticism, chivalry and kingship. It explores how individuals shaped ideal types and how they themselves strove to match medieval archetypes. The binary oppositions between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are explored through study of the ‘bad king’, and the creation of villains such as the Jew. You will spend four hours per week in lectures and seminars.
The Tokugawa World: 1600-1868
This module covers the history of Japan during the early modern era when the land was governed by a dynasty of Tokugawa shogun rulers. Often characterized as a period of stability, it was also a time of profound social, cultural and intellectual change. Key themes include: Tokugawa rule; trade and external relations; class mobility and urbanization; the growth of popular culture; natural disasters, famine and economic crises; the ‘Opening of Japan’ and the collapse of the Tokugawa World. You will spend four hours each week studying this module.
The Venetian Republic, 1450-1575
This module explores the nature of the Venetian Republic in the later fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It examines the constitution, its administrative and judicial system, its imperial and military organisation, but will above all focus on the city and its inhabitants itself. The module will discuss the enormous cultural dynamism of the city (especially the visual arts from the Bellini to Tintoretto and Veronese), changing urban fabric, the role of ritual and ceremony, the position of the Church, and class and gender. You will spend four hours each week in lectures and seminars for this module.
Liberating Africa: Decolonisation, Development and the Cold War, 1919-1994
This module examines current debates about the end of the European empires in Africa and the emergence of a new political system of independent states. Topics for discussion include: forms of African nationalism; debates about economic development; colonial wars during the liberation struggles; the significance of race and European settlement and migration; the impact of the Cold War on the politics of decolonisation. You will spend four hours each week studying this module.
You will undertake an in-depth study into a chosen subject within American and Canadian Studies and produce either a 5-7,000 word or a 10-12,000 word dissertation.
You will take a Special Subject module in History based on a range of options. Examples may include: Samurai Revolution: Reinventing Japan, 1853-78; Italy at War, 1935-45; Suez and the End of Empire;Culture, Society and Politics in 20th Century Russia; The History of a Relation: Jews in Modern Europe; Sex and Society in Britain Since 1900The Reign of Richard II.
American Madness: Mental Health and Illness in History and Culture
This module explores how ideas about madness, insanity, and mental illness have changed from the mid-nineteenth-century to the present. We will consider how and why medical authority, gender, and class have all impacted the way in which mental illness is understood, and consider the significance of changing approaches to treatment. Sources used on this interdisciplinary module range from medical accounts and psychiatric theory to memoir, fiction and film. You will spend 3 hours per week studying this module.
You’ll explore the United States' experiment with Prohibition during the period 1918 to 1933, with particular focus on crime, disorder and policing. The rise of organized crime will be considered, along with gangsters and G-men, the expanding crime fighting role of the state, the federal crime crusade of the early 1930s and the inglorious end of Prohibition. You’ll spend around 3 hours per week in lectures and seminars.
This module provides a survey of Latino cultures from the colonial period to the present by exploring the cultural expression of people of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban and Dominican descent. It covers various cultural genres, forms and sites: art, architecture, music, testimony, poetry, performance and religious expression; heritage, museum and media industries; and elite, popular and everyday cultural expressions. You’ll spend 3 hours per week in lectures and seminars if you study this module.
Popular Music Cultures and Countercultures
You’ll examine the role played by American popular music in countercultural movements, focusing on the ways in which subordinate groups have used popular music as a vehicle for self-definition. Considering key issues and moments in American popular music history, you’ll cover topics such as the folk revival and the 1930s, rock 'n' roll and desegregation in the 1950s, rock music and the 1960s, and postmodernism in the music of the MTV age. Around three hours per week will be spent in lectures and seminars studying this module.
In the Midst of Wars: The United States and South East Asia, 1940-1975
You’ll consider American attitudes, perceptions and policies toward South East Asia from the Second World War until the end of the Vietnam War. Focus will be on the course of the Vietnam War, the role of different players (beyond the US) and the reasons that the US became involved. You’ll also consider the wider scope of US policy in Asia during the period and the outlines of the wider Cold War. For this module, you’ll spend around three hours per week in lectures and seminars.
The Civil War and its Origins 1850-1865
You’ll consider the collapse of the American Republic in 1861, including events in the decade preceding it and the course of the war which followed it. You’ll focus on the origins of the Civil War and the reasons for Union victory and Confederate defeat. You’ll spend three hours per week in lectures and seminars.
Kings, Saints and Monsters in England, 450-850
This module examines cultural and political changes in the southern half of the island of Britain between the fifth and ninth centuries, in particular the development of kingship and kingdoms as a form of political organisation, and the effects of the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. You will spend four hours in lectures and seminars studying for this module.
The Many Faces of Reform: British Politics, 1790-1850
This module explores key themes in the political history of Britain from the time of the French Revolution to the middle of the nineteenth century. Topics for study include the role the 1832 Reform Act in political reform, the development of political parties, the role of parliament and the monarchy, electoral culture either side of the 1832 Reform Act, the nature of the press and the role of caricatures, and pressure groups in British political life - exploring movements such as the Luddites, Swing Riots, and Chartists. You will spend four hours in lectures and seminars studying for this module.
This module re-evaluates the history of masculinity in Western culture. Most existing analysis of masculinity in Western culture deals with modern cultures. Yet, many of the key characteristics of masculinity can plausibly be traced back to the Dark Ages. Students will study such issues as: how to use gender as an analytical tool with which to investigate early medieval evidence; gender ideology; codes of male honour; men's life cycles and fatherhood; relations between men and women; violence; military and clerical ideals of masculinity. You’ll spend four hours per week studying this module.
The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. The above list is a sample of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.