Triangle

Course overview

Do you love literature and enjoy getting lost in books? Are you creative and imaginative?

Through studying a diverse range of writers – encompassing Shakespeare to Jamaica Kincaid – you will develop new perspectives, interpretations and ideas. This in turn will give you a deeper understanding of the world, yourself, and your own outlook on life.

We offer a variety of modules in both American Studies and English, covering:

  • African American literature
  • English language in a global and digital age
  • Immigrant and ethnic writing
  • American and British theatre
  • Transatlantic and postcolonial literary cultures
  • Women's writing
  • LGBTQ+ literature

You will also study American and Canadian culture, history, politics, film, music and art in the largest department of its kind in Europe.

You can also experience North America, by choosing to study abroad for a year at a US or Canadian university. You can do this by transferring to the study abroad programme at the end of your first year. The option to study abroad is dependent on your academic performance and the availability of places.

Your departments

Find out more about what it's like to study with us:

Why choose this course?

Beginners welcome!

No prior knowledge of American studies is needed

Love literature?

Indulge your love of literature and transform your outlook on life

Tailor your studies

Study what excites you and follow your interests

Double your skillset

Benefit from the skills development and assessment methods of studying two subjects

Live what you study

Choose to spend a year studying at a university in the United States or Canada

Student satisfaction

The Department of American and Canadian Studies was ranked 92% for 'overall student satisfaction' in the 2020 National Student Survey results


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.

UK entry requirements
A level ABB
Required subjects

Grade B in English at A level

IB score 32; 5 in English at Higher Level

Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)

If you have already achieved your EPQ at Grade A you will automatically be offered one grade lower in a non-mandatory A level subject.

If you are still studying for your EPQ you will receive the standard course offer, with a condition of one grade lower in a non-mandatory A level subject if you achieve an A grade in your EPQ.

Foundation progression options

If you have faced educational barriers and are predicted BCC at A Level, you may be eligible for our Foundation Year. You may progress to a range of direct entry degrees in the arts and humanities. 

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

You will be taught via a mixture of large-group lectures and smaller, interactive seminars. You might also be taught through tutorials and supervisions. These are one-to-one meetings or discussions with an academic tutor.

On the American Studies side of your course, you will benefit from a wide range of learning materials. This could include reading books, online journal articles, e-book chapters, shorter review essays, newspaper and magazine articles. It could also mean watching documentary films, and, on some modules, listening to music on YouTube or Spotify.

“I did a module called ‘The Pop Century, which was on 20th century music, in second year. I loved that because you’d have a playlist every week and reading to go with it. We’d listen to songs and you’d choose your favourite one and link it to the historical context." – Liberty Jones, fourth year student

You will also have a personal tutor from the Department of American and Canadian Studies. This is someone who can:

  • provide general support for your academic life
  • give you the opportunity to raise concerns and discuss issues
  • support you with personal issues

Find out more about personal tutors

Teaching quality

Over 90% of our class of 2019 joint honours students graduated with a 1st or 2:1 degree classification. University of Nottingham Degree Outcomes statement

Nine academics from the Department of American and Canadian Studies and 32 from the School of English have received Advance HE recognition for their contribution to education, becoming Teaching Fellows.

Peer mentor scheme

First-year students can benefit from being paired with a 'peer mentor'. This is an existing student from your department who helps you settle in, get to know your peers and advise on student life.

Find out more about peer mentors

Teaching methods

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials

How you will be assessed

Assessment methods

  • Commentary
  • Dissertation
  • Essay
  • Presentation
  • Reflective review
  • Written exam

Contact time and study hours

You’ll have at least the following hours of timetabled contact a week through lectures, seminars and workshops, tutorials and supervisions.

  • Year one: minimum of 12 hours
  • Year two: minimum of 9 hours
  • Final year: minimum of 8 hours

Your tutors will also be available outside these times to discuss issues and develop your understanding. You will have a personal tutor from the Department of American and Canadian Studies. You will also be allocated a joint honours advisor from the School of English.

We reduce your contact hours as you work your way through the course. As you progress, we expect you to assume greater responsibility for your studies and work more independently.

Your lecturers will be qualified academic staff. Some of your classes may be run by temporary teaching staff who are also experts in their field.

Class sizes vary depending on topic and type. A weekly lecture on a core module may have 50-60 students attending, while a specialised seminar may only contain 10 students.

As well as scheduled teaching, you’ll carry out extensive self-study such as independent reading and research. As a guide, 20 credits (a typical module) is approximately 200 hours of work (combined teaching and self-study). Each 20-credit module typically involves between three and four hours of lectures and seminars per week. You would ideally spend 8-10 hours doing preparation work.

Study abroad

On this course, you will have the opportunity at the end of year one to apply for a transfer onto the four-year programme with a year abroad. This is subject to your academic performance in the first year and the availability of places at our partner institutions.

  • Students registered for the four-year programme attend a major North American university or college for one year
  • You pay reduced fees during your year abroad
  • We have a dedicated Year Abroad team who will help you with every aspect of your year, both before you go and during your stay

Find out more on our studying abroad webpage

"America is so much more of a culture shock than you’d imagine. They’re so similar to us in so many ways, but still so different. It was a great experience to be able to go there. It’s the reality behind what you’re studying."

- Natalie Shortall, 2018 graduate. Natalie spent her year abroad in Charleston, South Carolina

Placements

Become 'workplace-ready' with our Work Placement and Employability programme tailor made for students in the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies. It helps you develop skills and experience that allow you to stand out to potential employers.

Through the School of English, you will have the opportunity to take part in volunteering schemes, including:

  • Vikings and Anglo-Saxons for Schools – Design and lead workshops on Viking and Anglo-Saxon culture and society for local primary schools.
  • The Literacy Support Project – Help to raise literacy standards in primary and secondary schools in the local area.
  • Peer mentoring – Act as a mentor to new students, sharing your experience of living and studying in Nottingham.
  • Dementia Reading Group – Become a Reading Group Facilitator and get involved in group reading and one-on-one reading with residents in a local care home.

You also have access to a wide range of work experience and volunteering schemes through the:

Why study more than one subject?

Watch our animation about studying a joint honours degree with us.

Modules

Our first-year core modules are designed as an introduction. This means that we will build everyone's knowledge to the same level, so you can progress through to year two.

You will take 120 credits of modules split as follows:

  • Core American Studies modules (60 credits) – you will be introduced to key themes and issues in American literature, covering major authors, texts and literary movements from the early 1800s to the present day. You will also take a multidisciplinary module that explores the literature, film and culture of Canada
  • Optional English modules (60 credits) – choose three modules

You must pass year one, but it does not count towards your final degree classification.

Core American Studies modules

From Landscapes to Mixtapes: Canadian Literature, Film and Culture

This interdisciplinary module offers an introduction to Canadian cultural studies through an examination of selected literary, film and visual texts. These cultural texts will be situated in their historical, political, regional and national contexts. While some reference is made to earlier periods, the focus is predominantly on the twentieth century. The module addresses debates about cultural definition and the construction and deconstruction of cultural stereotypes. Possible topics include the wilderness, migration, Native culture, bilingualism and biculturalism versus multiculturalism, the emergence of cultural nationalism, popular culture, and Canada’s relationship to the US. The module provides grounding for further study in Canadian topics. This module is for Single Honours students and Joint Honours English students, Joint Honours Film students and Joint Honours Latin American students.

American Literature and Culture 1: 1830-1940

This is an introductory survey of major American literature and culture. It explores a wide range of nineteenth century and early twentieth century American writers of fiction and poetry. The module addresses those questions about the nature of the American ‘canon’ raised by successive generations of critics. It will also explore related developments in visual culture and music.  It is seen as a `core’ module, which will give the grounding for further study of American literature and culture.

American Literature and Culture 2: Since 1940

This is an introductory survey of major American literature and culture since 1940. It explores a wide range of twentieth and twenty-first century American literary writers. The module addresses those questions about the nature of the American ‘canon’ raised by successive generations of critics. It will also explore related developments in late twentieth and early twenty-first century cinema, television and popular music.  It is seen as a `core' module, which will give the grounding for further study of American literature and culture.

English modules

Your module choices in your first year will form the basis of your academic study across three main areas of study in the School of English.

You are able to choose any three of the following four modules during your first year. These modules will give you firm foundations to pursue three areas of study in your second and final year.

English Language and Applied Linguistics

Studying Language

On this module you will learn about the nature of language, and how to analyse it for a broad range of purposes. It aims to prepare you for conducting your own language research across your degree.

The accompanying weekly workshops will explore levels of language analysis and description – from the sounds and structure of language, through to meaning and discourse. These can be applied to all areas of English study, and will prepare you for your future modules.

In your lectures, you will see how our staff put these skills of analysis and description to use in their own research. This covers the study of language in relation to the mind, literature, culture, society, and more. Your seminars then give you a chance to think about and discuss these topics further.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Literature, 1500 to the Present

Studying Literature

This module introduces the core skills for literary studies, including skills in reading, writing, researching and presentation. Topics covered include:

  • close reading
  • constructing an argument
  • handling critical material
  • introducing you to key critical questions about literary form, production and reception

You will put these new skills into practice through reading specific literary texts. These are focused on poetry and prose selected from the full range of the modern literary period (1500 to the present).

Across the year, you will learn about different interpretive approaches and concepts, and will examine literary-historical movements and transitions.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Medieval Languages and Literatures

Beginnings of English

What was the earliest literature in English like? Where does English come from? What does ‘English’ really mean, anyway?

On this module, we’ll explore a range of English and Scandinavian literature from the medieval period. You'll also meet themes and characters who are at once familiar and strange: heroes and heroines, monster-slayers, saints, exiles, tricksters, lovers, a bear, and more.

From Tolkien to Marvel, the medieval past has been an inspiration for fantasy fiction and modern myth. As well as introducing you to stories and poetry which is exciting, inspiring and sometimes plain weird, we’ll also be looking at some of the challenges of the modern world.

Thinking about the past, means thinking about how it is used in the present day. The idea of a 'beginning' of English language and literature often gets incorporated into modern beliefs about national, ethnic and racial identity. On this module, we’ll begin the necessary work of challenging these ideas and building a better understanding of the medieval past and why it still matters.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Drama and Performance

Drama, Theatre, Performance

Who makes theatre? Where does performance happen, and who is in the audience? How is society represented on stage?

These questions are at the heart of this module, and we will explore the extraordinary variety of drama in the Western dramatic tradition. You will examine dramatic texts in relation to their historical context, spanning:

  • ancient Greek tragedy
  • medieval English drama
  • Shakespeare and his contemporaries
  • the Restoration stage
  • 19th century naturalism
  • political theatre of Brecht
  • drama and performance, for example the West End hit Emilia by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm (2018), a celebration of women’s voices and history, inspired by the life of the trailblazing 17th century poet and feminist Emilia Bassano

Alongside texts, you'll also consider the extra-textual features of drama, including the performance styles of actors, the significance of performance space and place, and the composition of various audiences.

You will study selected plays in workshops, seminars and lectures, where we will explore adaptation and interpretation of the texts through different media resources. You can also take part in practical theatre-making, exploring extracts from the selected play-texts in short, student-directed scenes in response to key questions about performance.

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. This content was last updated on Thursday 01 July 2021.

You will take 120 credits of modules split as follows:

  • Core American Studies modules (20 credits) – you can choose from two key modules: North American Regions, which draws on literature, film and television to examine regional identities, or Key Texts in American Social and Political Thought, which explores debates about religion, race, class, capitalism, gender, sexuality and war in different periods
  • Optional modules (100 credits) – choose two optional modules from American Studies and three from English

You must pass year two, which counts 33% towards your final degree classification.

Core American Studies modules

North American Regions

This module will deploy the concept of "region" and, more broadly, “place” to explore key North American texts— drawn primarily from the spheres of film, television and literature. The notion of the "regional" will be applied expansively as well as conventionally to incorporate everything from the urban to the suburban/exurban; border territories; the transnational. Possible areas of study may include the American West; the Pacific North-West; New York City; the black inner city “ghetto”; "mountain" people and the Appalachians; Hispanic-America; first nations; French-Canada; Texas; Chicago; New Orleans; California; and the transnational impact of extensive US military occupations (post-war Japan; South Vietnam; twenty-first century Iraq). 

Or:

Key Texts in American 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. 

Optional American Studies modules

You will choose two optional modules from American Studies.

Contemporary North American Fiction

This module will consider the contexts and development of contemporary fiction and the novel in the United States and Canada since the 1990s. It will do so by positioning literary works within their wider historical, political and cultural context. You will examine the dominant ideas and concerns of a number of fictions and novels by writers from a range of ethno-cultural backgrounds. Our discussions will include the impact of race, ethnicity, gender, class, generation and sexuality on North American fiction and the novel; the bearing of technology on contemporary fiction; and various debates about the nature of the historical novel in the twenty-first century.

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 and thus indicate how African Americans have sustained themselves individually and collectively within a racist, yet liberal society. These will illustrate the resilience of African American culture via music, literature, art and material culture. 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. Weekly topics might include material culture in the Gullah region of South Carolina; or the growth of urban black churches in the North during the period of the Great Migration highlighted by the development of Gospel choirs and radio preaching.

American Radicalism

American radicals have been dismissed as impractical, wild-eyed, and subversive - even "un-American"- although many of their most visionary aims have been realized. This module will consider these paradoxes, beginning with the American Revolution in the late 18th century. 19th century subjects will include the abolitionists, early feminism, utopian socialism, anarchism, and farmer populism. 20thcentury 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 more recent radicalisms, including the gay liberation movement, women's liberation, and resistance to corporate globalisation.

The US and the World in the American Century: US Foreign Policy 1898-2008

How can we understand the evolution of America's relationship with the wider world? What interests have been behind the execution of American power?

This module offers a critical introduction to understanding America's place in the world. From the war of 1898, to the conflicts of the early 21st century, we examine how America's involvement abroad has changed over time.

Through historical and political analyses of US foreign relations, we will look at the themes that have shaped America's increasing influence in global affairs.

We consider:

  • traditional political and diplomatic issues
  • the link between foreign and domestic policies
  • the role of foreign actors and private organisations, from religious groups, to citizen organisations, to NGOs that have served to shape America's actions abroad

We will also explore contemporary trends in the history of US foreign policy, including race, gender, emotions, and religion.

This module is worth 20 credits.

American Violence: A History

This module seeks to analyse the patterns and prevalence of violence in the USA. You will consider theories such as its origins in frontier settler societies and this may allow comparative study of Canada. You will understand the relationship between violence and the gun control debate and the related issue of American ideological antipathy to state power. You will also look at 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. Possible topics include violence incidental to settler-native people contact or plantation slavery, the right to bear arms in the Constitution, the resort to force within US foreign policy including atomic weaponry, ‘state terrorism’, and the military-industrial complex.

Immigration and Ethnicity in the United States

This module examines the history of immigration to the United States from Europe, Asia, and Latin America. We trace the making and remaking of immigrant communities, cultures, and identities from the nineteenth century to the present day. You will analyse models of race, ethnicity, culture, and nation by focusing on the perception and reception of immigrant groups and their adjustment to US society. We will ask questions such as: How have institutions and ideologies shaped the changing place of immigrants within the United States over time? How have immigrants forged new identities within and beyond the framework of the nation state? And how has immigration transformed US society?

The American Pop Century

This module surveys the history of American popular music in the 20th century, focusing on the major genres and exploring the artistic, cultural and political issues they raise. In addition to examining the music’s aesthetic qualities genre by genre, the focus will be on key developments within the music industry, on the ways in which commercial and technological changes have influenced the production and consumption of music, and on the ways in which musicians and audiences use pop music to engage with American culture and society. We’ll spend quite a bit of time listening to and analysing music, but you do not need any specialist musical expertise or knowledge to take the module.

America's Borders: Culture at the Limits

This module offers a hemispheric approach to North America by focusing on the history and culture of two significant borderlands regions, the Canada-US border and the Mexico-US border,as well as providing a general introduction to border theory and comparative approaches to the borderlands.

The module adopts a multi- and interdisciplinary approach to the border as a place, culture and concept and moves from the colonial period into the twenty-first century. We will analyse a diverse range of historical, literary and cultural texts (testimony, fiction, poetry,drama, film, television, art, architecture, music and performance) and engage a series of critical debates about the nature of cultural and ethnic encounter, race, nation and empire. 

Business in American Culture

This module introduces students to the conflicting views about business that can be heard echoing through American literature and culture in the last two centuries. These views are evident when literature and culture directly represent the business culture-its executives, managers and employees, or the physical and mental conditions of employment and entrepreneurship; they are also evident in the narrative unconscious of works appreciated for qualities other than their treatment of business. This module aims to try and understand not only what drives American culture's preoccupation with business, but also to study the various strategies used as literature and culture represents what the module calls the discourses of business: the way that business as a theme is written and talked about in the United States by presidents, by social critics, by journalists, and by writers and other cultural producers; the way that the historical accumulation of this collective input has fashioned a set of rules that govern the way successive generations can think about business; the way that specialised and professionalised languages of business become tropes and metaphors to be used outside of a strictly business environment. The module examines these discourses in a variety of representational forms from the mid-nineteenth century through to the present day: shorts stories and novels; newspapers, magazines and illustrations; speeches, autobiographies and memoirs; film and television.

Optional English modules

Depending on your module choices in your first year, you will choose three modules That cover at least two of the following areas:

Literature, 1500 to the Present

From Talking Horses to Romantic Revolutionaries: Literature 1700-1830

This module introduces different kinds of literature, written between 1700-1830. This was a dramatic time in literary history, resulting in the Romantic period. It involved many areas of great contemporary relevance, such as class, poverty, sexuality, and slavery.

We will examine:

  • utopian literature (through Gulliver’s Travels)
  • the developing novel (such as Moll Flanders and Pride and Prejudice)
  • how irony works
  • what is self-expression
  • how the emergent genre of autobiography can be either manipulated, or used as part of a larger cause

As part of this module, you will explore novels, poems, and prose works that bring to life the intellectual, social and cultural contexts of the period.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Literature and Popular Culture

This module investigates the relationship between literature and popular culture. You will explore works from across a range of genres and mediums, including:

  • prose fiction
  • poetry
  • comics
  • graphic novels
  • music
  • television
  • film

As well as exploring topics such as aesthetics and adaptation, material will be situated within cultural, political and historical contexts allowing for the distinction between the literary and the popular.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Modern and Contemporary Literature

This module charts the dramatic transformations and innovations of literature in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Moving between genres, the module unfolds chronologically from modernism, through the inter-war years, and into postmodernism and the contemporary scene.

We explore some of the huge artistic shifts of this long and turbulent period. You will examine how modern and contemporary literature connects to the cultural revolutions, intellectual debates, political and social upheavals, and ethical complexities of its times.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Shakespeare and Contemporaries on the Page
This module focuses on material written between 1580 and 1630 to provide you with an introduction to methods of reading early modern texts. Shakespeare’s poetry will be among the core texts; other canonical writers will include Christopher Marlowe, Edmund Spenser, Philip Sidney and John Donne. You’ll explore the practice of historicised readings of early modern texts and you’ll consider the related challenges and limitations. You’ll have one hour of lectures and two hours of seminars each week.
Texts Across Time
This module will consider key issues in the study of English language and world literature, locate language and literature in time and place, and extend your knowledge of the intellectual, political, historical, and cultural developments in language and literature.
Victorian and Fin de Siècle Literature: 1830-1910

Explore a wide variety of Victorian and fin-de-siècle literature, with examples taken from fiction, critical writing and poetry.

You will examine works by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Charles Dickens, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Oscar Wilde, Henry James, HG Wells and Joseph Conrad.

We will focus on understanding changes in literary forms and genres over this period, and how these relate to broader developments in Victorian social, economic and political culture.

The module is organised around the following interrelated themes:

  • Empire and race
  • Class and crime
  • Identity and social mobility
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Literature and consumerism

This module is worth 20 credits.

English Language and Applied Linguistics

Language in Society

When we study language, we learn about how society works. Why do some people have more noticeable accents than others? Why are some people taken seriously when they talk, while others aren’t? How do those with power use language to manipulate us into thinking a certain way?

On this module, these are the sorts of questions you’ll be thinking about. We focus on how people use language, how language varies between different speakers, and how language is used to represent different social groups. We consider:

  • The way that language is used by people online to create communities
  • How the mainstream media uses language to represent particular groups, such as immigrants or gay people
  • The ways that language is used in particular contexts, such as the workplace
  • How advertisers use language to persuade us that we need their products
  • The relationship between language, gender and sexuality
  • How language can be used to signal a person’s race or ethnicity

You’ll learn how to conduct a sociolinguistic study which explores topics such as these. You will also spend time each week analysing original language data.

The module is worth 20 credits.

The Psychology of Bilingualism and Language Learning

Are you interested in languages and the multilingual world? Have you ever wondered how our brains process learning a second language? Would you like to teach English overseas one day? If so, this module could be for you.

Drawing on current theories of second language acquisition, we will consider:

  • How globalisation has increased bilingualism in the world
  • How languages are learnt
  • How students differ from each other in their mastery of languages
  • How the psychology of the classroom environment impacts the effectiveness of learning
  • How to motivate students and create good learner groups

You will spend three hours per week on this module, split equally between a lecture and follow-up seminar.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Texts Across Time
This module will consider key issues in the study of English language and world literature, locate language and literature in time and place, and extend your knowledge of the intellectual, political, historical, and cultural developments in language and literature.
Language Development

You’ll explore how English is learnt from making sounds as an infant through to adulthood. Topics relating to early speech development include: the biological foundations of language development, the stages of language acquisition and the influence of environment on development. Further topics which take into account later stages of development include humour and joke telling abilities, story-telling and conversational skills and bilingualism.

Literary Linguistics

All literature is written in language, so understanding how language and the mind work will make us better readers and critics of literary works.

This module brings together the literary and linguistic parts of your degree. It gives you the power to explore any text from any period by any author.

You will study how:

  • Literature can feel rich, or pacy, or suspenseful, or beautiful
  • Texts can make you laugh, cry, feel afraid, excited, or nostalgic
  • Fictional people like characters can be imagined
  • We can get inside the thoughts, feelings, and hear the speech of characters, narrators and authors
  • Imagined worlds are built, and how their atmosphere is brought to life
  • You as a reader are manipulated or connect actively with literary worlds and people

This module is worth 20 credits.

Medieval Languages and Literatures

Chaucer and his Contemporaries

Chaucer dominates our conception of late Middle English literature, but he was one among several exceptional writers of his time.

This module focuses on 40 years of writing, to consider whether Chaucer’s concerns with identity and authority, comedy and tragedy, and wit and wisdom are uniquely his, or shared with other writers.

We will cover a wide range, including:

  • romance
  • dream vision (both mystic and secular)
  • love poetry
  • lyric

You will read works by the so-called Ricardians: Chaucer, Gower, the Gawain-poet, and Langland, but also the mystic writings of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe and some poetry by Thomas Hoccleve.

By the end of the module, you will have gained confidence in reading and discussing Middle English texts, and be aware of key issues around form, language, and authority and influence.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Old English: Reflection and Lament
This module explores the tradition that the poetry and prose of Old English often focuses on warfare and heroic action. You will study and analyse poems from the Exeter Book 'elegies' and also passages from Beowulf to explore this rich and rewarding genre. You'll have a two-hour lecture and one-hour seminar each week for this module.
Ice and Fire: Myths and Heroes of the North

Odin, Thor and Loki: almost everyone has heard about them, but where do their stories come from?

In this module, we will learn about the origins of their myths from various sources: images on stone and wood in the Viking Age, as well as the written texts of the Middle Ages.

We will learn about giants, dwarves, valkyries and rumour-spreading squirrels, as well as the cosmology and religion which are embedded in Old Norse mythology. We will talk about heroes and villains, from dragon-slayers to queens who kill to avenge their brothers.

The stories of Old Norse mythology have influenced writers throughout history. from Tolkien to the Marvel Universe, they are still part of our culture. This module will take you back to the beginnings and show that there are so many more marvellous myths to explore.

The module is with 20 credits.

Names and Identities

What can given names, surnames and nicknames tell us about people in the past? What determines the choice of a name for a child? Where does our hereditary surname system come from? How have place, class and gender impacted upon naming through time? This module will help you answer all these questions and more. Interactive lectures and seminars, and a project based on primary material tailored to each participant, will introduce you to the many and varied, fascinating and extraordinary types of personal name and their origins.

Drama and Performance

Shakespeare and Contemporaries on the Stage
This module offers an in-depth exploration of the historical and theatrical contexts of early modern drama. This module invites students to explore the stagecraft of innovative and provocative works by Shakespeare and key contemporaries, such as Middleton, Johnson, and Ford (amongst others). Students will explore how practical performance elements such as staging, props, costume and music shape meaning. You’ll have one hour-long lecture and one two-hour long seminar each week, with occasional screenings.
Stanislavski to Stelarc: Performance Practice and Theory
This module helps you develop your understanding of the theory and practice of theatre and performance from the beginnings of the twentieth century through to the present day. Building on the work encountered in Introduction to Drama, you will move forward from naturalism to consider the work of influential theorists and practitioners such as Stanislavski, Brecht, Meyerhold, Barba, Schechner, Boal, Artaud, Berkoff, Grotowski, Jarry and the futurists, whose work has had a major impact on theatre and performance in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries . You’ll have a mix of lectures and workshops totalling three hours per week for this module.
Twentieth-Century Plays

Theatre makers in the long 20th century have been dealing with a series of pressing artistic and social issues, many of which still concern us today.

These issues include:

  • What makes a play worth watching?
  • Why do audiences enjoy watching bad things happening?
  • How are minority groups represented on the stage?
  • How might the stage advance the cause of gender or sexual equality?
  • What role does social class or nationality play in the workings of theatrical culture?
  • How can we talk accurately about an art form like performed theatre, that is so fleeting and transitory?

In order to answer such questions, this module gives an overview of key plays and performances from the 1890s to the present. You will study these key texts in their original political, social, and cultural contexts. You will also:

  • consider their reception and afterlife
  • focus on the textual and performance effects created
  • place the texts alongside the work of relevant theorists and practitioners

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. This content was last updated on

You can apply to spend your third year studying in North America, transferring to a four-year course and returning to Nottingham for your final year to complete your course.

This is not compulsory – if you choose not to study abroad, you will complete your degree in three years. Eligibility for study abroad is dependent on satisfactory performance in your first year and the availability of places.

My year abroad was the absolute highlight of the whole course. I did four months in Montreal and then four months in Berlin. As soon as I meet a new employer, they always see it on my CV and ask questions. It’s the greatest thing to have, because you could talk to someone about it for the whole interview and really impress them!”Aodhbha Bassani, 2020 American and Canadian Studies (Study Abroad) BA graduate

If you do choose to take a year abroad, the benefits are varied. From travelling, to making new friends, to experiencing first-hand the culture you’re studying, you will build important life-long skills. Our returning students have often gained in:

  • independence
  • confidence
  • adaptability
  • self-awareness
  • cultural awareness and understanding

You will take 120 credits of modules split as follows:

  • Compulsory core modules (minimum of 20 and maximum of 40 credits) – you will complete a research dissertation
  • Optional modules (minimum of 80 and a maximum of 100 credits) – a range of options are available, covering aspects of North American and English literatures, cultures and histories

You must pass year four, which counts 67% towards your final degree classification.

Core modules

Dissertation in American and Canadian Studies

This module involves in-depth independent study of a subject in American and Canadian Studies. It encourages both student-centred and student-initiated learning. The topic you choose must be appropriate for your course and must be approved by the module convenor. You are assigned a supervisor with expertise in your chosen area of study.

The completed dissertation should be 5,000-7,000 words in length for the 20 credit module and 10,000-12,000 words in length for the 40 credit module. The 20 credit dissertation is for one semester only and the 40 credit version is year-long.

Recent dissertation titles include:

  • To Ban or Not to Ban: Changing Motivations Behind Efforts to Censor African American Literature in America’s Public Schools, 1976-2018
  • The Development of Television in the Canadian North and its Role in the Preservation of Inuit Culture
  • The Feminist Justification for the Afghanistan War: The Cooperation Between the Bush Administration and the Feminist Majority Foundation
  • "The Teeth of the World are Sharp”: James Baldwin’s Protest Novels
  • Towards Humane Borders: Activist and NGO Responses to the Militarisation of the US-Mexico Boundary
  • “A Blended World … A Safe Space for Everybody”: A Case Study of Underground Ballroom Culture
  • “Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues”: The Empowerment of Black Female Blues Singers - Romance or Reality?
  • “Older Arts and Newer Technology”: Cultural Recoding in Bharati Mukherjee’s Desirable Daughters

Or:

English Dissertation: Full Year

You have the option of writing an individual research project in your final year. This can be on a topic of language, literature or performance.

You will work on a one-to-one basis with a supervisor, producing a detailed and sustained piece of writing.

There is also the option of completing a project-based dissertation. This is useful if you are interested in applied or practical aspects of English.

Recent dissertation titles include:

  • 'From Diamonds to Dust: An Ecocritical Comparison Between Modernist Literature and Contemporary Environmental Fiction'
  • 'The Representation of Racial Injustices in Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric'
  • 'Seamus Heaney and Samuel Beckett in Relation to British Imperialism'
  • 'Ethical Criticism and Zadie Smith'

This module is worth 20 credits.

Optional American Studies modules

Prohibition America

This module explores the United States' bold but disastrous experiment with Prohibition during the period 1918 to 1933, with particular focus on crime, disorder and policing, as well as Race, class, gender, and religion.

We examine pre-1920 temperence, women's reform movements, and state-wide restrictions; changing patterns of alcohol consumption and the rise of the Anti-Saloon League; and the reasons for the shift to national prohibition, along with passage of the Eighteenth Amendment and Volstead Act.

We consider the impact of the outlawed liquor trade on US society, politics, and culture during the 1920; the rise of bootlegging and smuggling; changes to the vice trades and rise of crime syndicates, and the inglorious end of Prohibition.

Ethnic and New Immigrant Writing

This module will consider the development of ‘ethnic’ and new immigrant literature in the United States from the late 19th century to the contemporary era.  You will examine a range of texts from life-writing to short fiction and the novel by writers from a range of ethno-cultural backgrounds, including Irish, Jewish, Caribbean and Asian American. Issues for discussion will include the claiming of the United States by new immigrant and ‘ethnic’ writers; race and ethnicity; gender, class and sexuality; labour and economic status; the uses and re-writing of American history and ‘master narratives’; the impact of US regionalism; how writers engage with the American canon; multiculturalism and the ‘culture wars’; and the growth of ‘ethnic’ American writing and Ethnic Studies as academic fields.

Popular Music Cultures and Countercultures

This module examines the role played by American popular music in countercultural movements. We focus on the ways in which marginalised, subordinate or dissenting social groups have used popular music as a vehicle for self-definition and for re-negotiating their relationship to the social, economic and cultural mainstream. We explore how the mainstream has responded to music countercultures in ways that range from repression to co-optation and analyse how the music and the movements have been represented and reflected on in fiction, film, poetry, journalism and theory.  Among the key moments examined are the folk revival and the 1930s Popular Front, rock 'n' roll and desegregation in the 1950s, rock music and the 1960s counterculture, and postmodernism and identity politics in the music of the MTV age.

Recent Queer Writing

This module explores lesbian, gay, transgender and queer writing, focusing especially on the search for agency and the representation of gender and sexuality in selected contemporary texts. The majority of writers studied will be Canadian, although some American examples will also be included. The module is multi-generic, engaging with forms including novels, short fiction, life writing, poetry, drama and graphic narratives. Topics for discussion will include: 

  • LGBTQ 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, religion, and the construction of gender and sexual identites
  • writing for LGBTQ youth
  • literature studies will be contextualized in relation to relevant debates in feminist, queer, post-colonial and transnational theories

Representative authors for study may include James Baldwin, Jane Rule, Dionne Brand, Dorothy Allison, Shyam Selvadurai, Tomson Highway, Leslie Feinberg, and Ivan Coyote.

A History of the Civil Rights Movement

This module examines a range of documents and scholarly controversies pertaining to the Civil Rights Movement between 1940 and 1970. Documents will include public and organisational records, photo-journalism, speeches, memoir and personal papers. Controversies will include those relating to the chronological limits, spatial dynamics, and gender politics of the movement, as well as those relating to the movement's goals and achievements.

American Madness: Mental Illness in History and Culture

Experiences of and ideas about madness, insanity, and mental illness have varied and changed radically within American history and culture. This module will survey and analyse these changes from the mid-19thcentury 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. The aim is to place representations of mental illness in their historical context, and to ask what they reveal about related ideas about identity, conformity, social care and responsibility.

US Foreign Policy, 1989 - present

An introduction to the key institutions, structures and processes that combined to produce American foreign policy in the post-Cold War period. You'll analyse the role of the bureaucracy, Congress, public opinion and the media to understand how US foreign policy is formulated and conducted. You'll spend around three hours per week in lectures and seminars if you study this module.

Varieties of Classic American Film, Television and Literature since 1950

What is a film, television or literary classic? How has this term come under pressure and fractured over the past half century or so? In this module you will consider the concept of the mid and late twentieth century American “classic” in a variety of contrasting and overlapping contexts. These contexts will be elaborated on the basis of their formal, generic, period and/or cultural designations that will cover university and exam curricula reading lists, popular opinion and widespread critical consensus (such as the currently prevalent view, for instance, that the early twenty-first century constitutes a ‘golden age’ of US television).

North American Film Adaptations
This module examines North American short stories and novels and their film adaptations, paying attention to 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.
Sexuality in American History

From the Puritans to Playboy, sexuality has been a focal point in the culture, politics, and society of the United States. This module will examine Americans' differing attitudes over time toward sexuality. Representative topics covered may include marriage and adultery, homosexuality and heterosexuality, nudity, abortion, birth control, prostitution, free love, and rape.

The Special Relationship, Spit and Slavery- Britain and the US 1776-1877

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.

Troubled Empire: The Projection of American Global Power from Pearl Harbor to Covid-19

This module will challenge students to critically engage with the period that Henry Luce referred to as the “American Century”. It will cover a range of case studies between Luce’s injunction and the subsequent US entry into World War Two in 1941 and the recent twin-crises marked by the 2008 Great Recession and the Covid-19 global pandemic. In doing so, it will prompt students to consider both the projection of American power on a global scale after 1941 and the considerable challenges that this project faced. Incorporating a series of focused case studies and reflections on the wider contexts relating to them, it will give students first-hand experience of weighing up the practical challenges US policymakers faced and the way that historians have subsequently assessed their efforts and understood their actions. 

Optional English modules

Depending on your module choices in your first and second year, you will choose three modules that cover at least two areas of study:

Literature, 1500 to the Present

The Self and the World: Writing in the Long Eighteenth Century

The years from 1660 to 1830 are enormously important, especially in terms of the representation of the self in literature: Milton promoted the idea of the poet inspired by God; Pope and Swift mocked the possibility of anyone truly knowing their self; Wordsworth used poetry to explore his own life; and Byron and Austen provided ironic commentaries on the self-obsessions of their peers. This period also saw the rise of the novel (a form that relies upon telling the story of lives), a flourishing trade in biography, and the emergence of new genre, autobiography. This module will look at some of the most significant works of the period with particular reference to the relationship between writers and their worlds. Topics might include: the emergence, importance and limitations of life-writing; self- fashioning; the construction – and deconstruction - of the ‘Romantic’ author’; transmission and revision; translation and imitation; ideas of the self and gender; intertextuality, adaptation, and rewriting; creating and destroying the past; and writing revolution. Texts studied will range across poems, novels and prose.

Contemporary Fiction

Explore the novel from the late twentieth century onwards, in Britain and beyond.

We will concentrate on the formal operations and innovations of selected novelists, considering how the contemporary socio-historical context influences these questions of form. Topics considered include:

  • an interrogation of the ‘post-consensus novel’
  • an exploration of postcolonial texts which represent the transatlantic slave trade
  • the cultural politics of late twentieth-century and twenty-first century Scottish literature

Contemporary fiction is focused on writing emerging from Britain and closely-related contexts in the post-war period. This module offers strands structured around a number of political, social and cultural frameworks in Britain. These include:

  • formal analysis and literary innovations in Britain
  • temporalities and the representation of time
  • issues of gender, race and class
  • histories of colonialism and slavery
  • national traditions and politics of state
  • the country and the city
  • postmodernism

This module particularly explores the network of relationships between context, content and form, supported by related literary and cultural theory and philosophy.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Making Something Happen: 20th Century Poetry and Politics

This module introduces key modern and contemporary poets.

You will build a detailed understanding of how various poetic forms manifest themselves in particular historical moments. Unifying the module is an attention to poets’ responses to the political and ideological upheavals of the 20th century.

The module will include such (primarily) British and Irish poets as:

  • W.B. Yeats
  • T.S. Eliot
  • W. H. Auden
  • Dylan Thomas
  • Ted Hughes
  • Sylvia Plath
  • Wislawa Szymborska
  • Tony Harrison
  • Seamus Heaney
  • Derek Mahon
  • Adrienne Rich
  • Geoffrey Hill
  • Jo Shapcott
  • Patience Agbabi
  • Alice Oswald

Some of the forms examined will include: the elegy, the pastoral (and anti-pastoral), the ode, the sonnet (and sonnet sequence), the ekphrastic poem, the version or retelling, the villanelle, the parable and the sestina.

To develop a more complete perspective on each poet’s engagement with 20-century formal and political problems, we also examine these figures’ writings in other modes. This includes critical essays, manifestos, speeches, and primary archival materials such as letters and manuscript drafts.

Grounding each week will be readings on poetry and the category of the ‘political’ from an international group of critics, including such thinkers as Theodor Adorno, Charles Bernstein, Claudia Rankine, Peter McDonald, Angela Leighton, Christopher Ricks and Marjorie Perloff.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Single-Author Study

This stranded module provides students with a detailed introduction to the major works of a single author (e.g. James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence). Students will select one author to study from a range on offer. They will then have the opportunity to consider in detail important thematic and stylistic aspects of their chosen author’s work, taking account of the chronological development of his/her writing practice (if relevant), and his/her relationship to key historical and literary contexts.

The Gothic Tradition

This module focuses on the connections between literary texts, politics, and relevant historical/cultural contexts in gothic texts. You may cover:

  • poetry
  • novels
  • graphic novels
  • films

Examples include The Haunting of Hill House (both Shirley Jackson’s novel and the Netflix adaptation), The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez, and Saga of the Swamp Thing by Moore, Bissette and Totleben, and The Visions of the Daughters of Albion by William Blake.

You will explore various critical and theoretical approaches to literature, film, comics, adaptation, and popular culture. The module also seeks to decolonise Gothic Studies, including work by creators from a wide range of backgrounds who identify with a diverse range of subject positions.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Island and Empire
While the vexed questions of British identity and its relationship to empire have been at the forefront of political debate in the last decade, they have also been integral to literary production for many centuries. This module interrogates English and British representations of colonisation and empire, within Great Britain and Ireland and with particular reference to India. Well known writers such as Edmund Spenser, Jonathan Swift, Walter Scott, Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling and Salman Rushdie, will be set against less familiar voices, to consider the ways in which dominant narratives come about and can be challenged.
Oscar Wilde and Henry James: British Aestheticism and Commodity Culture

Henry James and Oscar Wilde had a passionate dislike of each other, as well as very different values. Even so, they moved in similar circles. Both men found themselves at the centre of British cultural and intellectual life, experimenting within the same set of literary, critical and theatrical modes.

This module uses the writings of Oscar Wilde and Henry James, alongside some of their contemporaries, to examine changes in literary culture and the practices of literary composition in the late 19th century.

We will explore:

  • The role of new technology in literary creativity
  • The growth of mass and 'celebrity' culture
  • The development of consumerism and resulting commodification of literary art
  • The changing relationship of art to politics
  • Anxieties about artistic originality and plagiarism
  • Attempts (via censorship) to police literary expressivity

You will study a range of texts by Wilde and James, including drama, fiction and criticism. These will be compared with pieces by a number of their contemporaries (including Walter Pater and William Morris), in order to assess both the modernity and radicalism of their writings.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Modern Irish Literature and Drama

This module will consider Irish literature and drama produced in the twentieth century. Taking the Irish Literary Revival as a starting-point we will consider authors in their Irish and European context: W.B. Yeats, J.M. Synge, Lady Gregory, James Joyce, Seán O'Casey, Seamus Heaney, Brian Friel, and Marina Carr. The focus throughout will be upon reading texts in relation to their social, historical, and political contexts, tracking significant literary and cultural responses to Irish experiences of colonial occupation, nationalist uprising and civil war, partition and independence, socio-economic modernisation, and the protracted period of violent conflict in Northern Ireland.

Reformation and Revolution: Early Modern literature and drama 1588-1688

Literature and Drama across the early modern period contributed to, and was often caught up in, dramatic changes in social, political, and religious culture which changed the way that people experienced their lives and the world around them. This module gives students the opportunity to read a wide range of texts in a multitude of genres (from drama, to prose fiction, pamphlets and poetry) in their immediate contexts, both cultural and intellectual. This module will situate the poetry, prose and drama between 1580 and 1700 against the backdrops of civil war and political revolution, scientific experimentation, and colonial expansion; in doing so, it will ask how the seventeenth century forms our current understandings of the world. Students will be encouraged to read widely, to develop a specific and sophisticated understanding of historical period, and to see connections and changes in literary and dramatic culture in a period which stretches from the Spanish Armada of 1588 to the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688.

Songs and Sonnets: Lyric poetry from Medieval Manuscript to Shakespeare and Donne

Through the exploration of lyric poetry, this module examines cultural and literary change from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century. It will consider the rise of ‘named poet’, the interaction of print and manuscript culture, the representation of love, and the use of the female voice. It will develop further students’ confidence in handling formal poetic terminology and reading poetry from this period. It will also enable students to think pragmatically about the transmission of lyric in modern editions, and about how best to represent the form.

One and Unequal: World Literatures in English

This module examines the late twentieth and early twenty-first century globe through its correlates in fiction. The primary materials for the module will be post-war Anglophone works drawn from a wide geographical range across the world. After introducing the history of the idea of world literature, these works will be situated within a series of theoretical ‘worlds’: world literary systems; post-colonial criticism; cosmopolitanism; world ecologies; resource culture; literary translation theory. The module will also attend to critiques of 'world literature’ as a concept.

English Language and Applied Linguistics

Teaching English as a Foreign Language

The module is designed to provide students with an understanding of the process of English Language Teaching (ELT) and of the theoretical underpinnings of this practice. In this module students will learn the principles behind the learning and teaching of key aspects and skills of English, including:

  • vocabulary
  • grammar
  • reading
  • writing
  • speaking
  • listening
  • intercultural communicative skills

Students will also learn how to apply these theoretical principles to the development of teaching materials. This module will therefore be of interest to students who want to pursue a teaching career, and in particular to those interested in teaching English as a second or foreign language.

Advanced Stylistics

This module offers an advanced study of the language of literary texts and how it impacts reading and interpretation. It bridges the gap between the literary and linguistics aspects of our BA degrees. It also equips you with skills that will be useful in the teaching of English, or for a career in publishing.

You will study:

  • literary style and technique
  • the style of poetry and narrative
  • the representation of characters' voices and consciousness
  • the style of difficult texts, such as surrealism
  • the history of literary style

You will learn to explain how style contributes to meaning and interpretation, and why texts affect you in different ways.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Language and Feminism

This module provides comprehensive knowledge of feminist theory, as applied to a series of language and linguistic contexts.

You will explore a range of analytical approaches to language, including conversation analysis, critical discourse analysis, and interactional sociolinguistics. You will also respond to, and critically engage with, contemporary real-world problems associated with gender and sexuality, through the consideration of discourse-based texts.

Topics covered include:

  • gender and sexual identity construction in a range of interactive contexts
  • sexist, misogynistic, homophobic and heteronormative representations in texts
  • feminist theory from the 1970s to the present, with particular focus on contemporary approaches to gender theory

This module is worth 20 credits.

Language and the Mind

Speaking, listening, reading, and writing are a complex set of behaviours that are a fundamental part of our daily lives. And yet they remain difficult to fully explain.

When you hear ‘FIRE’, you immediately look for an exit and start moving. Yet all that a speaker has done is produce a string of sounds. Your mind distinguishes these from the murmuring of other voices, feet clomping on the floor, and any background music. Your mind matches the sounds f-i-r-e with a word, retrieves the meaning, and relates them to the current circumstances and responds accordingly.

How does the mind do this? And what makes our minds so special that we can do this? On this module, we begin to address these questions.

You will consider:

  • Is there a language gene?
  • What makes human language different from animal communication?
  • What is the relationship between thought and language?
  • Does everyone talk to themselves? What purpose does our inner voice serve?
  • How do we learn language? And does cognition underpin our ability to learn language?
  • What do language deficits tell us about language and the brain?
  • How do we understand and produce speech, words, and sentences?
  • What is the best way to teach children to read?
  • How is sign language similar to/different from spoken language?

This module is worth 20 credits.

Medieval Languages and Literature

English Place-Names

The module uses the study of place-names to show the various languages – British, Latin, French, Norse and English – that have been spoken in England over the last 2000 years.

You will learn how place-name evidence can be used as a source for the history of English, including:

  • its interaction with the other languages
  • its regional and dialectal patterns
  • its changing vocabulary

We also consider the interdisciplinary contribution that place-names offer to historians and geographers.

For this module's assessment, you can choose a geographical area of particular interest.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Dreaming the Middle Ages: Visionary Poetry in Scotland and England
The genre of dream-vision inspired work by all the major poets of the Middle Ages, including William Langland, the Pearl-Poet, and Geoffrey Chaucer. The course will aim to give you a detailed knowledge of a number of canonical texts in this genre, as well as ranging widely into the alliterative revival, and chronologically into the work of John Skelton in the early sixteenth century. The course will depend upon close, detailed reading of medieval literary texts, as well as focusing on the variety and urgency of issues with which dream poetry is concerned: literary, intellectual, social, religious and political.
Old English Heroic Poetry
This module gives an opportunity to those who already have a basic knowledge of Old English language and literature to explore some of the astonishing range of texts from the earliest stages of English literature. The texts studied are heroic and Christian. Themes include Germanic myth and legend, heroic endeavour, Christian passion. A study of the epic poem Beowulf — its characters, its themes, its ‘meaning’ — is essential to the module. Texts are read in Old English (with plenty of help given).
The Viking Mind

Our images of Vikings come largely from the Icelandic sagas. These present a Viking Age of daring exploits, global exploration and bloody feuds, as carried out by valiant warriors and feisty women. But how accurate are the sagas when it comes to understanding what really happened in the Viking Age? Can they provide an insight into the Viking mind?

This module explores Norse and Viking cultural history, using an interdisciplinary approach grounded in the study of texts. 

Topics covered include:

  • The Viking Age and Viking society
  • Exploration and diaspora
  • Gender, marriage and family
  • Religion and belief
  • Outlaws
  • Poetry
  • The supernatural

Your one-hour lectures will provide the evidence base for discussion in the two-hour, student-led seminars. The seminars also include some language work.

Assessment for this module is by a one-hour exam of comment and analysis, and a 3000-word project on a topic of your choice in consultation with a tutor.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Songs and Sonnets: Lyric poetry from Medieval Manuscript to Shakespeare and Donne

Through the exploration of lyric poetry, this module examines cultural and literary change from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century. It will consider the rise of ‘named poet’, the interaction of print and manuscript culture, the representation of love, and the use of the female voice. It will develop further students’ confidence in handling formal poetic terminology and reading poetry from this period. It will also enable students to think pragmatically about the transmission of lyric in modern editions, and about how best to represent the form.

Drama and Performance

Modern Irish Literature and Drama

This module will consider Irish literature and drama produced in the twentieth century. Taking the Irish Literary Revival as a starting-point we will consider authors in their Irish and European context: W.B. Yeats, J.M. Synge, Lady Gregory, James Joyce, Seán O'Casey, Seamus Heaney, Brian Friel, and Marina Carr. The focus throughout will be upon reading texts in relation to their social, historical, and political contexts, tracking significant literary and cultural responses to Irish experiences of colonial occupation, nationalist uprising and civil war, partition and independence, socio-economic modernisation, and the protracted period of violent conflict in Northern Ireland.

Performing the Nation: British Theatre since 1980

This module introduces a range of new plays and performances staged in the British Isles between 1980 and the present day, with a particular focus on the ways in which the theatre of the period has engaged with questions of nation and identity in the period which saw the fall of Thatcher and the rise of New Labour, the peace process in Northern Ireland, increasing devolution in Wales and Scotland, and the London 7/7 attacks as well as the celebrations of the 2012 London Olympics. Most recently of all the UK's EU referendum of 2016 has prompted reflection on our national, regional and local identities across and within the UK, and we finish the module by looking at how theatre makers and practitioners have begun to respond to these challenges.

Changing Stages: Theatre Industry and Theatre Art

Peter Pan, Les Misérables, Hamilton... just a few of the iconic productions that started life in London’s West End, or on Broadway in New York. But why and how did they become so successful?

The 20th and 21st centuries have seen major changes in the way theatre is financed, produced and presented, both on stage and on screen. This module explores the fascinating world of theatre production, covering:

  • the development of long-running, commercial productions
  • the role of the theatre producer in making theatre
  • subsidised theatre
  • touring and national theatre companies
  • reviewing cultures
  • relationship between the theatre and film industries
  • the advent of the mega-musical

Examining the mainstream and the fringes, we apply case studies including Shakespeare in production, new plays, revivals, and international hits like the ones listed above, illustrating how theatre responds to changing contexts and audiences.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Reformation and Revolution: Early Modern literature and drama 1588-1688

Literature and Drama across the early modern period contributed to, and was often caught up in, dramatic changes in social, political, and religious culture which changed the way that people experienced their lives and the world around them. This module gives students the opportunity to read a wide range of texts in a multitude of genres (from drama, to prose fiction, pamphlets and poetry) in their immediate contexts, both cultural and intellectual. This module will situate the poetry, prose and drama between 1580 and 1700 against the backdrops of civil war and political revolution, scientific experimentation, and colonial expansion; in doing so, it will ask how the seventeenth century forms our current understandings of the world. Students will be encouraged to read widely, to develop a specific and sophisticated understanding of historical period, and to see connections and changes in literary and dramatic culture in a period which stretches from the Spanish Armada of 1588 to the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688.

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. This content was last updated on

Fees and funding

UK students

£9,250
Per year

International students

To be confirmed in 2021*
Keep checking back for more information
*For full details including fees for part-time students and reduced fees during your time studying abroad or on placement (where applicable), see our fees page.

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland starting your course in the 2022/23 academic year, you will pay international tuition fees.

This does not apply to Irish students, who 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 Brexit information for future students.

Additional costs

Essential course materials are supplied.

Books

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. A limited number of modules have compulsory texts which you are required to buy. We recommend that you budget £100 per year for books, but this figure will vary according to which modules you take. The Blackwell's bookshop on campus offers a year-round price match against any of the main retailers (e.g. Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith). They also offer second-hand books, as students from previous years sell their copies back to the bookshop.

Volunteering and placements

For volunteering and placements e.g. work experience and teaching in schools, you will need to pay for transport and refreshments.

Year Abroad (optional for this course)

Reduced fees (subject to change):

As a Year Abroad student, you will pay reduced fees, currently set at:

  • Home/EU students: £1,385
  • International: 50% of the relevant international fee

Costs incurred during the year abroad:

These vary from country to country, but always include:

  • travel
  • accommodation
  • subsistence
  • insurance

Depending on the country visited you may also have to pay for:

  • visa
  • vaccinations
  • self-funded language courses
  • additional administration fees and study supplies in the host country or organisation

There are a number of sources of funding:

  • Student Finance Loan
  • Means-tested travel grant
  • University of Nottingham bursaries and scholarships

Your access to funding depends on:

  • the course you are taking
  • your residency status
  • where you live in term time
  • your household income

You may be able to work or teach during your year abroad. This will be dependent on your course and country-specific regulations. Often students receive a small salary or stipend for these work placements. Working or teaching is not permitted in all countries.

More information on the year abroad.

Optional field trips

Field trips allow you to engage with source materials on a personal level and to develop different perspectives. They are optional and costs to you vary according to the trip; some require you to arrange your own travel, refreshments and entry fees, while some are some are wholly subsidised.

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. For up to date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £1,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* 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 students

We offer a range of international undergraduate scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

International scholarships

Careers

As an American Studies and English graduate, you will have gained valuable transferable skills, including:

  • adaptability, independence and initiative
  • critical thinking and text analysis
  • strong communication, both oral and written
  • presenting ideas and information, including collaboratively
  • planning and researching written work
  • writing for different audiences

Read our American and Canadian Studies graduate profiles

Read our English graduate profiles

You can also learn more about subject-related careers opportunities from our Careers and Employability Service:

Average starting salary and career progression

76.7% of undergraduates from the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary was £22,668*

*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.

 

89.3% of undergraduates from the School of English secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary was £22, 441.*

*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.

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.

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers (Ranked in the top ten in The Graduate Market in 2013-2020, High Fliers Research).

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" I would urge those who have a great passion for the arts to look into this course as it will allow students to explore various realms of various subjects without being confined to one. "
Dasia Ngundam-Bohi, American Studies and English

Related courses

Important information

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.