American and Canadian Studies research opportunities


We are the largest American studies department in Europe and carry out ambitious and internationally recognised research in the fields of American studies, Canadian studies, American literature, history, culture, and politics. Research focuses on both North America itself and on America in the global context.

We were the highest ranked American Studies department in the country for research power, intensity and impact in the Research Excellence Framework 2014, a national assessment of British universities' research. 94% of our research activity was recognised as work of international standard, with 73% world-leading or internationally excellent. In terms of its impact, 100% of our research was assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent.

We offer research supervision and taught courses in the areas of American literature, history, foreign policy, politics, intellectual and cultural history, film studies, visual and cultural studies, and Canadian literature and culture. Single disciplines as well as interdisciplinary interests are welcomed. 

We currently have more than 25 full or part-time PhD students. We also offer a range of full and part-time taught masters courses that allow students to indicate a disciplinary speciality and to study in Europe.

There is a lively research culture based on reading groups and work-in-progress seminars, together with guest speakers. Students have access to excellent video, slide, CD, tape and DVD collections. Research students receive selective financial help with inter-library loans, photocopying, printing and conference costs.

Key research strengths and Expertise

The department welcomes applications in all areas of American and Canadian studies but has several key research clusters to which PhD can affiliate themselves. Read more details about:

Research clusters and the staff members and PhD students involved

Current major research projects

As well as individual research projects, American studies at Nottingham has had several long-term research projects in recent years funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The latest of these is "The Antislavery Usable Past", which unearths the details of past antislavery strategies (including 18th/19th-century American and British) and translates their lessons and legacies for the movement against contemporary global slavery and human trafficking.

Information for applicants

The department welcomes applications from students who wish to pursue PhD or MRes degrees all areas of American and Canadian Studies. These research programmes form a central and thriving part of the school's activities and we have more than 25 students currently enrolled, either full-time or part-time.

The department has an energetic postgraduate research culture and over 75 PhD students have graduated from the programme since 2000. Retention and completion rates are excellent and are underpinned by quality assurance mechanisms including a robust system of monitoring that includes an annual review process. Research students come to Nottingham from the UK and overseas, including the EU, the Middle and Far East, Latin America and the United States. With their diversity of cultural and disciplinary backgrounds, they constitute a rich, rewarding and supportive postgraduate community. 


Research students have access to dedicated study space, networked computers and printers, a photocopying and printing allowance, and an inter-library loan service. Funding is available for conference and research trips.

A Graduate Centre for postgraduate students in the Arts and Social Sciences is available on the first floor of Highfield House on Park Campus. Accessible 24/7, the Centre provides computer stations, a social area with informal seating and areas where students can work individually or in groups. Students can also access a small seminar room and kitchen facilities.

Research support

All research students are allocated two supervisors who provide regular expert supervision and feedback on your progress. Students take part in the Postgraduate Professional Development Programme, which includes weekly work-in-progress seminars - where students and staff present their work - and a programme of visiting speakers. All students are required to attend the Arts Researcher Skills Programme, provided by the University's Graduate School. 

We provide advice on publishing and professional development and encourage students 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 for postgraduate students 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. 


If you choose to study with us, there are various sources of funding to which you can apply. Some are administered by the school, others by research bodies to which the school has links, and others by the University and central government sources. These opportunities are often specific to particular degree programmes, or to the fee-status of a student, so it is important to read all related information very carefully.

Midlands4Cities funding

The Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership supports the personal and professional development of the next generation of arts and humanities doctoral researchers. Studentships are available to UK/EU students.

How to apply to the University of Nottingham through Midlands4Cities

More information about additional sources of funding can be found on the following web pages. 

School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies funding pages

University of Nottingham Graduate School funding pages

University of Nottingham International Office funding pages

Overseas applicants may also be eligible for a range of school scholarships open to graduates from our North American partner institutions North American students may bring Stafford loans as Nottingham is a FAFSA approved institution (code G08920).

Career opportunities

According to the latest data, 100% of postgraduates in the Department of American and Canadian Studies who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation (known destinations of full-time home and EU postgraduates, 2012/13). The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain's leading graduate employers (High Fliers Research 2013, 2014 and 2015). 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.

American and Canadian Studies Alumni students

Career prospects and employability

Those who take up a postgraduate research opportunity with us will not only receive support in terms of close contact with supervisors and specific training related to your area of research, you will also benefit from dedicated careers advice from our Careers and Employability Service. Individual guidance appointments, career management training programme, access to resources and invitations to events including skills workshops and recruitment fairs are just some of the ways in which they can help you develop your full potential, whether you choose to continue within an academic setting or are looking at options outside of academia.  

PhD and masters studentships

Applicants are invited to apply for studentships in the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies. Please visit the postgraduate study webpage for further information.

Key facts
  • The School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies comprises three academic Departments: American and Canadian StudiesCultural, Media and Visual Studies; and Modern Languages and Cultures (which includes the University Language Centre).
  • The Department of American and Canadian Studies was the highest ranked American Studies department in the country for research power and research impact in the Research Excellence Framework 2014. 94% of our research activity was recognized as work of international standing, with 73% as world-leading or internationally excellent. 100% of our research was assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent in terms of its impact, with 63% of the research impact judged as 4* world-leading.

  • The postgraduate community is one of the largest and best-supported in the UK.


Postgraduate and Research Office
School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies
University of Nottingham
University Park

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