Research overview

We are the only Department of American and Canadian Studies in the UK, offering research expertise in race, gender and sexuality and how these are explored in Canadian literature, film and culture.

If you already have a clear idea of the area and topic you wish to research as a PhD, then you can effectively lay the ground work for this by doing a masters by research.

Particular areas of research specialism include:

  • Canada-US border studies
  • Contemporary cinema
  • Contemporary literature
  • Cultural studies
  • Ethnic-minority literature
  • Film adaptation
  • Indigenous literature and cinema
  • Prize culture
  • Queer studies
  • Settler-colonialism
  • Women's writing
  • Young adult literature

Find out more about our research.

Course content

You will take 180 credits. This is made up of a selection of taught modules (worth 60 credits), and a 25,000-word research dissertation (worth 120 credits).

The dissertation is submitted at the end of the year and is marked by both an internal and external examiner. You will agree the topic with your supervisors (usually two co-supervisors). There is the possibility of a viva to confirm the award.

You will also attend research training sessions and weekly graduate work-in-progress seminars.

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. You will then receive feedback and support. You will contribute a paper in semester two.

Core module

This module will consist of the selection, research and writing up of 25,000 word dissertation worth 120 credits in the field of American and/or Canadian Studies, chosen after consultation with the Course Director and other appropriate staff members.

Optional modules

You will take 60 credits from the following:

An introduction to some of the key research skills required to become a more effective researcher and successfully complete your MRes.

You'll also develop a range of transferable professional skills - from writing and presentation to public engagement and project management.

You will also engage with key methdological concepts and debates within the arts and humaniities.

This module runs in the Autumn semester and is worth 20 credits.

Develop the practical and intellectual skills required to bring your MRes dissertation to completion.

You'll typically cover:

  • research planning
  • archive mining
  • data management
  • practical training in thesis presentation and structuring
  • key theories and approaches relevant to all students in the areas of arts and humanities

It is not necessary to do MRes Research Skills 1 to enrol on this module.

This is a full-year module worth 40 credits.

This module encourages students to reassess the Anglo-American relationship during an era of major upheaval in both nations (1776-1877).

Taking students from the American Revolution through to the end of the Reconstruction era the module will challenge learners to examine how events and ideas forced Britons and Americans to reconceptualize their relationship.

Through the module, students will engage with concepts crucial in the formation of the modern world including race, ethnicity, liberty, republicanism, class, gender, manners and reform.

This module examines North American short stories and novels and their film adaptations.

We'll look at the contexts in which both the literary and the cinematic texts are produced as well as to the analysis of the texts themselves.

In particular, the module takes an interest in literary texts whose film adaptations have been produced in different national contexts to the source material.

This is an optional module worth 20 credits.


This module examines the making of US foreign policy in the post-Cold War period, from the end of the Cold War to the present.

It examines the grand historical narratives of American international relations and considers in depth the drivers behind the foreign policies pursued by Presidents:

  • George H. W. Bush
  • Bill Clinton
  • George W. Bush
  • Barack Obama
  • Donald Trump

It considers whether the post-1989 period has constituted a break from previous traditions in US foreign policy or whether there has been an essential continuity through the war on terror and beyond. It does this through an examination of the impact of economics, geopolitics, ideology and security issues on post-1989 strategy in different regions of the world, as well as the impact of a new international environment marked by the demise of bipolarity and the rise of globalisation.

This is an optional module worth 20 credits.


This module explores representations of sexuality and gender expression in contemporary Canadian and American texts by LGBTQ writers (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual & transgender, two-spirit, queer & questioning).

The module is multi-generic, engaging with forms including:

  • novels
  • short fiction
  • life writing
  • poetry
  • drama
  • graphic narrative.

Topics for discussion will include:

  • LBGTQ sexuality
  • constructions of masculinity and femininity
  • the politics of representation: the extent to which writing can enable agency as subjects or citizens
  • intersections between race, ethnicity, class, nationality and religion in the construction of gender and sexual identities
  • writing for LGBTQ youth

Literature studied will be contextualised in relation to relevant debates in feminist, queer, postcolonial and transnational theories.

Representative authors for study may include:

  • James Baldwin
  • Jane Rule
  • Dionne Brand
  • Dorothy Allison
  • Tomson Highway
  • Alison Bechdel
  • Leslie Feinberg
  • Ivan Coyote

This is an optional module worth 20 credits.


We will help you to apply your arts MA across society to enhance your career and contribute to wider society.

We'll demonstrate how the arts can be used to:

  • transform society, politics and culture
  • enhance the careers of arts and humanities MA students.

You'll be able to explore, explain and then detail how your disciplinary skills can impact upon wider issues to emphasise the applicability of the arts and humanities. From the role of the scholar activist to understanding ‘knowledge transfer’ and ‘public engagement’, you'll develop professional skills in preparation for a career within academia or across a range of sectors.

You will:

  • harness the ways in which the arts and humanities enable us to think differently and to innovate
  • work on issues of research, networking, grant-writing and cultural exchange
  • learn how to engage, communicate and create.

This module is worth 20 credits.


The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules.

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.


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


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


MRes applicants are encouraged to get in touch with the Departmental Director of Postgraduate Research (currently Dr Christopher Phelps) to discuss their areas of research interest prior to submitting their application.

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

How to apply


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.


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


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.

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.

Expert supervision

You will have two supervisors who are an active part of our established research staff.

They will:

  • regularly read your work
  • attend your works-in-progress presentation
  • provide frequent reviews and feedback

View staff profiles for the Department of American and Canadian Studies.

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.


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.

78.4 % of postgraduates from the Faculty of Arts secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary was £23,045*

*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.

Canadian literature and culture offer a window into the workings of Canada’s settler-colonialism, in both historical and contemporary contexts. Forged out of the clash of European empires, the Canadian nation-state now boasts an international reputation for its fairness and hospitality. In the UK’s only Department of American and Canadian Studies, we’re interested in holding that reputation to account, probing the difference that race, gender, and sexuality make to constructions of Canadian citizenship as its parameters are mapped out in literary, visual, and cinematic texts, and in how Indigenous artists resist Canada’s ongoing settler-colonial discursive, political, and physical violence.
Dr Gillian Roberts, Associate Professor in North American Cultural Studies

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 in the Research Excellence Framework
  • 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.