Politics and American Studies BA


Fact file - 2016 entry

UCAS code:TL72
Qualification:BA Jt Hons
Type and duration:3 year UG
Qualification name:Politics and American Studies
A level offer: AAB 
Required subjects: none specific but critical thinking and general studies not accepted 
IB score: 34
Available part time: yes
Course places: 22 
Campus: University Park Campus 

Course overview

On this course you will study a range of compulsory modules in American history and literature, as well as the government and politics of the USA. You can also choose optional modules in both subjects as well as from a wide range offered across the University. There is an opportunity to transfer to a four-year degree course, spending your third year in North America, depending on satisfactory performance.

Year one

In year one you will take modules in political theory and in comparative politics. You will learn to compare political institutions and behaviour in western liberal democracies and gain a thorough understanding of the history of political ideas. You will also take modules in American history and literature in the School of American and Canadian Studies.

Year two

In year two, you will take one compulsory module from Approaches to Political Studies or Designing Political Research. You will also take modules in American thought and culture, along with other options in American studies.

Year three

In year three, you will undertake a dissertation under the supervision of a member of staff and also take optional modules in either politics or American studies from a wide selection of modules offered by both schools.

More information 

See also the Department of American and Canadian Studies.

Entry requirements

A levels: AAB, none specific but general studies and critical thinking not accepted

English language requirements 

IELTS 6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

Pearson Test of English (Academic) 62 (minimum score 55)

Alternative qualifications 

For details please see alternative qualifications page

Flexible admissions policy

We may make some applicants an offer lower than advertised, depending on their personal and educational circumstances.


The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result, may change from year to year. The following list is therefore subject to change but should give you a flavour of the modules we offer.

Typical Year One Modules

Introduction to Comparative Politics
In this module you will compare and contrast the decision-making structures of modern states by examining different topics such as democratic and authoritarian rule, political culture, and legal and constitutional frameworks. You will also be introduced to the method of comparative politics and theory testing. The module will consist of a mix of lectures, seminars and workshops in different weeks, totalling around three hours per week throughout the semester.
Political Theory from Ancient to Modern
You will be introduced to some of the founding fathers of political thought such as Aristotle, Plato, Machiavelli and Hobbes. The evolution of political thought such as the concepts of liberty, equality and the Enlightenment will also be examined. You will consider their impact on modern political thought and practice, bringing together key political ideas with historical development. In this module you will have two hours of lectures per week.
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, spending around four hours per week in lectures and seminars. 

Typical Year Two Modules

Democracy and its Critics
In this module, you will examine the concept and organisation of democracy using primary sources to investigate historic and contemporary debates. You will consider the principles and arguments of democracy and its critics as well as the future for democracy in the context of accelerating globalisation. A variety of approaches and methods will be used to help you develop your skills for the study of political theory. The module consists of three hours of lectures and seminars each week.
Civilisation and Barbarism
You will explore some of the major themes of international relations using a variety of different sources including novels, essays, manifestos, treatise and film. Power and order is the underlying theme linking together areas such as imperialism, emancipation, human rights, terrorism and torture among others. The interconnectivity between all of these areas and the sources will help you appreciate texts from the breadth of your studies. There will be three hours a week of seminars and lectures for this module.
American Thought and Culture 1: Settlement to World War 1
You will analyse key American ideas and movements up to World War I, paying particular attention to those strands of European thought and culture which have had a significant impact in the USA, and to major European thinkers who have considered America as the site of emerging modernity. You will spend around three hours per week in lectures and seminars studying this module.
American Thought and Culture 2: 1917-Present 
Focus will be on issues in American intellectual and cultural life from World War I to the present. You will pay primary attention to developments in cultural, social and political thoughts with specific topics including the nature of modern mass culture, the rise of the Old Left and its replacement by the New Left, ideas of totalitarianism, the emergence of race and racism and the large transition from modernist to post-modernist cultural forms. Around three hours per week will be spent within lectures and seminars studying this module.

Typical Year Three Modules

Politics and Drugs
This module examines the implications of narcotics abuse for the political system from both a national and international perspective. Contemporary British drug policy will be explored and questions raised by drug control policy will be discussed. You will consider the production, consumption and trade of drugs as a global problem. You will spend around three hours a week in lectures and seminars studying for this module.
Weapons of Mass Destruction
This module will introduce a range of debates concerning weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) to give you an appreciation of the importance of the issue. The reasons for states to develop or acquire WMDs will be explored through core concepts such as deterrence, the security dilemma and organisation theory.  You will discuss whether WMDs are good or bad, and whether or not Britain should build a missile defence system, among other topics. Three hours a week will be spent in lectures and seminars studying for this module.
Prohibition America
You will explore the United States' experiment with Prohibition during the period 1918 to 1933, with particular focus on crime, disorder and policing. You will consider the rise of organised crime, gangsters and G-men, and the expanding crime fighting role of the state, concluding with the federal crime crusade of the early 1930s and the inglorious end of Prohibition. Around four hours per week will be spent in lectures and seminars.
Latino Expressive Cultures
This modules presents a survey of Latino cultural expression through time and space, exploring genres, forms, and sites involved in the production and consumption of Latino culture and its positioning within mainstream US society. This module consists of a one-hour seminar and a one-hour lecture each week. 


You will have a broad knowledge of American culture, politics and society, and an understanding of important political theories and concepts. You will also have the ability to develop and sustain a reasoned argument and to critically analyse political situations. If you were successful in transferring to the four-year degree, your overseas experience will recommend you to employers.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2013, 94.4% of first-degree graduates in the School of Politics and International Relations who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average salary was £22,498 with the highest being £60,000.*

In 2013, 90% of first-degree graduates in the Department of American and Canadian Studies who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average salary was £17,278 with the highest being £25,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home and EU graduates 2012/13.

Careers Support and Advice

Studying for a degree at The University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take. Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our Careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.  


Scholarships and bursaries

The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help.

Home students*

There are several types of bursary and scholarship on offer. Download our funding guide or visit our financial support pages to find out more about tuition fees, loans, budgeting and sources of funding.

To be eligible to apply for most of these funds you must be liable for the £9,000 tuition fee and not be in receipt of a bursary from outside the University.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International/EU students

The International Office provides support and advice on financing your degree and offers a number of scholarships to help you with tuition fees and living costs.


KIS data

Key Information Sets (KIS)

KIS is an initiative that the government has introduced to allow you to compare different courses and universities.


How to use the data

The Enquiry Centre

The University of Nottingham
King's Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

t: +44 (0) 115 951 5559
f: +44 (0) 115 846 8062
e: undergraduate-enquiries@nottingham.ac.uk