Triangle

Research overview

The only department of American and Canadian Studies in the UK, we examine North America in historical and contemporary contexts. Our research in North American histories and cultural expression addresses concerns of race, gender, and sexuality.

Work in the department reflects and leads a growing transnational agenda and research students are encouraged to think about America in a global context. We have long-standing experience and expertise in supervising PhDs to successful completion. 

Particular areas of research specialism include:

  • Asian North American literature and culture
  • Canadian literature and culture
  • Contemporary American fiction
  • Ethnic-minority writing
  • Feminist theory
  • Film adaptation
  • Gender and queer studies
  • Indigenous literature and culture
  • Memory studies
  • North American border studies
  • North American film
  • Settler-colonialism
  • Women's writing

Find out more:

Course content

You will complete a written thesis of up to 100,000 words. The topic will be agreed with your supervisors (usually two co-supervisors). You also take a verbal examination (viva voce) at the end of your thesis, where you explain your project in depth to an examination panel.

As part of this course, you will attend research training sessions and weekly graduate work-in-progress seminars.

The work-in-progress sessions are led by the research student community. They are an opportunity for everyone to present their ongoing research to their peers, supervisors and invited members of academic staff and research students. The idea is that you receive feedback and support from this community.

Recent PhD topics have included:

  • 'Beyond the Sense of an Ending: Post-Apocalyptic Critical Temporalities'
  • 'Hemispheric Regionalism: Border Discourse and the Boundaries of American Studies'
  • 'New Body, New Me? Fat Women Characters in North American Fiction, 1976-2013'
  • 'Queer Citizenship and Acts of Reading'

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2022 entry.

QualificationPhD
Degree

2:1 (or international equivalent) in an arts, humanities or social science subject

For PhD study, we would usually expect you to hold or be working towards a masters degree in a relevant subject

QualificationPhD
Degree

2:1 (or international equivalent) in an arts, humanities or social science subject

For PhD study, we would usually expect you to hold or be working towards a masters degree in a relevant subject

International and EU equivalents

We accept a wide range of qualifications from all over the world.

For information on entry requirements from your country, see our country pages.

IELTS7.0 (no less than 6.5 in each element)
English language requirements

As well as IELTS (listed above), we also accept other English language qualifications.

This includes TOEFL iBT, Pearson PTE, GCSE, IB and O level English.

Meeting our English language requirements

If you need support to meet the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional English course. Presessional courses teach you academic skills in addition to English language. Our Centre for English Language Education is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

If you successfully complete your presessional course to the required level, you can then progress to your degree course. This means that you won't need to retake IELTS or equivalent.

For on-campus presessional English courses, you must take IELTS for UKVI to meet visa regulations. For online presessional courses, see our CELE webpages for guidance.

We recognise that applicants have a variety of experiences and follow different pathways to postgraduate study.

We treat all applicants with alternative qualifications on an individual basis. We may also consider relevant work experience.

If you are unsure whether your qualifications or work experience are relevant, contact us.

Applying

In order to apply, you must submit a research proposal of approximately 1000 words, outlining your key area of investigation and primary research questions, the existing scholarship in the field and your intervention into the debates therein, and the kinds of sources you will be using.

You are encouraged to send a draft proposal to the Departmental Director of Postgraduate Research (currently Dr Christopher Phelps) for feedback prior to submitting your application.

Our step-by-step guide contains everything you need to know about applying for postgraduate research.

How to apply

Fees

QualificationPhD
Home / UK4,625 per year
International20,000 per year

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you will pay international tuition fees in most cases. If you are resident in the UK and have 'settled' or 'pre-settled' status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you will be entitled to 'home' fee status.

Irish students will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for 'home' fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our information for applicants from the EU.

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

Additional costs

You'll be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to buy your own copies of core texts.

Funding

M4C logo

Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Programme

Midlands4Cities PhD students benefit from a high quality package of:

  • funding
  • enhanced support and training
  • expert supervision
  • excellent networking opportunities

You must apply for a place at Nottingham before submitting your M4C application.

Apply to become an M4C student at the University of Notitngham

There are many ways to fund your research degree, from scholarships to government loans.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding

Support

The department offers:

  • advanced research training
  • frequent reviews and feedback on progress
  • departmental research seminars/work in progress sessions
  • support for research trips and conference attendance
  • inter-library loan

We also offer a programme of visiting speakers and regular symposia organised by staff and students.

You will be encouraged to organise and attend conferences, act as editors for postgraduate journals, and publish book reviews and articles. Many former students have successfully turned their PhDs into books with major presses including Oxford University Press, Manchester University Press, University of California Press, University of Illinois Press, Routledge and Palgrave.

There are regular opportunities to take part in outreach activities, public talks and departmental events. In addition to serving as Departmental Outreach and Engagement Coordinators and Directors of our LGBT and Black History Month programmes, students are given logistical and financial support in order to run their own conferences and organise a week-long research retreat.

Students also act as teaching assistants, after appropriate teacher training offered by the University and the school. Teaching Assistants are supported and monitored by module convenors, the Chair of Teaching Committee and the Director of Research.

Expert supervision

We encourage you to get in touch with a member of academic staff about your research proposal before submitting an application. They will be able to help you with your proposal and offer support to find funding opportunities in your area.

You can find our academics listed across three broad themes:

Researcher training and development

The Researcher Academy is the network for researchers, and staff who support them. We work together to promote a healthy research culture, to cultivate researcher excellence, and develop creative partnerships that enable researchers to flourish.

Postgraduate researchers at Nottingham have access to our online Members’ area, which includes a wealth of resources, access to training courses and award-winning postgraduate placements.

Graduate centres

Our graduate centres are dedicated community spaces on campus for postgraduates.

Each space has areas for:

  • studying
  • socialising
  • computer work
  • seminars
  • kitchen facilities

Student support

You will have access to a range of support services, including:

  • academic and disability support
  • childcare services
  • counselling service
  • faith support
  • financial support
  • mental health and wellbeing support
  • visa and immigration advice
  • welfare support

Students' Union

Our Students' Union represents all students. You can join the Postgraduate Students’ Network or contact the dedicated Postgraduate Officer.

There are also a range of support networks, including groups for:

  • international students
  • black and minority ethnic students
  • students who identify as women
  • students with disabilities
  • LGBT+ students

SU Advice provides free, independent and confidential advice on issues such as accommodation, financial and academic difficulties.

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Where you will learn

University Park Campus

University Park Campus covers 300 acres, with green spaces, wildlife, period buildings and modern facilities. It is one of the UK's most beautiful and sustainable campuses, winning a national Green Flag award every year since 2003.

Most schools and departments are based here. You will have access to libraries, shops, cafes, the Students’ Union, sports village and a health centre.

You can walk or cycle around campus. Free hopper buses connect you to our other campuses. Nottingham city centre is 15 minutes away by public bus or tram.

Careers

Whether you are considering a career in academia, industry or haven't yet decided, we’re here to support you every step of the way.

Expert staff will work with you to explore PhD career options and apply for vacancies, develop your interview skills and meet employers. You can book a one-to-one appointment, take an online course or attend a workshop.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

Our postgraduates go onto work in a range of fields, from university lectureships and post-doctoral fellowships to roles in the media, art councils and the creative industries.

Many of our research students publish high-quality books and articles and have secured teaching positions in universities both in the UK and abroad.

The average annual salary for postgraduates from the School of Cultures, Languages and Areas Studies was £21,855*

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

stephanielewthwaite
Having trained in cultural history with a focus on Mexican migration in Los Angeles, my research now spans the field of contemporary Latinx visual culture. From modernism in New Mexico to contemporary Chicanx photography in Texas, and Caribbean diaspora art in New York, Latinx visual cultures are powerful modes of witnessing and storytelling. In examining how Latinx artists connect up different memories and places, my research shows the United States as enmeshed with other parts of the Americas, and has involved mapping histories of settler-colonialism, contemporary narratives of loss in the U.S. city, and debates about ecological trauma and extinction.
Stephanie Lewthwaite, Associate Professor in American History

Related courses

Research Excellence Framework

We are ranked 8th in the UK for research power (2014). The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system used by UK higher education funding bodies to assess research quality in universities.

  • We are the highest ranked American Studies department in the country for research power and research impact
  • More than 97% of research at Nottingham is recognised internationally
  • More than 80% of our research is ranked in the highest categories as world-leading or internationally excellent
  • 16 of our 29 subject areas feature in the UK top 10 by research power

This content was last updated on 15 October 2021. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.