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Course overview

Are you curious about the impact of historical events on our current lives? Do you want to understand why empires and superpowers rise and fall?

This course opens up new worlds and possibilities. You will deepen your knowledge of how societies develop and learn how the past influences the present. We offer a variety of modules in both American Studies and History, covering:

  • The Crusades
  • 19th-century Japan
  • The Cold War
  • Civil rights
  • US foreign policy
  • Crime and punishment

You will also study American and Canadian culture, politics, literature, 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?

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

Skills for your career

Sharpen key skills by developing independent thinking, initiative and team working

Tailor your studies

Study what excites you and follow your interests


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

B in history at A level

IB score 32; 5 in history 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.

You will 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 29 from the Department of History have received Advance HE recognition for their contribution to education, becoming Teaching Fellows.

In the past six years, two of our academics from the Department of History have won Lord Dearing Awards. These awards recognise outstanding student learning and are nominated by students and academic colleagues.

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 Department of History.

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.

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

"I decided to participate in the ‘Experience Heritage’ module as part of the Nottingham Advantage Award to gain experience in the heritage sector. One of the highlights of the placement was the opportunity to create a display for the reading room which utilized the range of artefacts being stored at Manuscripts and Special Collections. This enabled me to craft a display that was directly related to my degree, with the topic being related to surviving photographs from the Crimean War of 1853-56, alongside being able to use my analytical and organisational skills in preparing the display."

- Bron Bury, American Studies and History BA graduate

Read the blog post about Bron's experience.

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:

  • Compulsory core modules (80 credits) – you will gain the core skills, knowledge and methods needed to work at degree level by taking introductory modules to early modern, modern and American history. Your American history core modules will introduce you to the key themes, debates and events in American history, from the colonial period to the present day
  • Optional modules (40 credits) – choose two optional modules in history

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

Core modules

Race, Power, Money and the Making of North America, 1607-1900

This module provides an introduction to the history of North America from European contact through to the start of the 20th century. It considers how the interactions of European colonizers with Native Americans shaped the future of the region. It also addresses the rise of Atlantic slavery, its development over time and the eventual emergence of distinctive African-American cultures. The module takes students through a broad chronological period which includes European colonization, independence and Civil War while inviting them to examine the influence and development of attitudes towards race, class, gender, democracy and capitalism.

American Freedom? Empire, Rights and Capitalism in Modern US History, 1900-Present

This module examines the history of the United States in the twentieth century. It will assess changes and developments in the lives of the American people who have faced the challenges of prosperity, depression, war, liberal reform, political conservatism, minority protests, multicultural awareness, and international power.

Approaches to American Culture 1: An Introduction

This module aims to introduce students to some of the key facets of American culture across a broad historical range. The emphasis will be on texts and cultural artifacts beyond those encountered in the core modules on American Literature and American History. In this respect we are likely to focus on a variety of forms, which may include music, painting, cinema, television and various genres of writing. We will concentrate on important and influential cultural forms, demonstrating and exploring connections made across different time periods and, in particular, with developments in contemporary America. Ideally the module will help to open up ways for the students to move between different parts of the undergraduate programme, while also encouraging them to think critically about some of the assumptions that they bring to the subject.

Approaches to Contemporary American Culture 2: Developing Themes and Perspectives

This module aims to develop further some themes and perspectives encountered by students on Approaches to Contemporary American Culture 1. The emphasis will be on texts and cultural artefacts beyond those encountered in the other American Studies core modules. In this respect we are likely to focus on a variety of forms, which may include music, painting, cinema, television and various genres of writing. We will concentrate on important and influential cultural forms, demonstrating and exploring connections with developments in contemporary America. Ideally the module will help to open up ways for the students to move between different parts of the undergraduate programme, while also encouraging them to think critically about some of the assumptions that they bring to the subject.

Learning History
This module will provide students with the learning skills necessary to make the most of their studies in History. It concentrates upon their conceptions of the subject and their strategies as learners, in order to enable them more effectively to monitor and develop their skills and understanding. Students will be introduced to different approaches to the study of History as well as to different understandings of what History is for. The module aims to encourage more effective learning in History, bridge the transition from school or college to university, prepare students for more advanced work in the discipline at year two, and enhance the skills listed.

Optional modules

From Reformation to Revolution: An Introduction to Early Modern Europe c.1500-1800

This module introduces students to major issues in the social, political and cultural history of Europe in the early modern period by analysing demographic, religious, social and cultural changes that took place between c.1500 and 1800. Students will examine the tensions produced by warfare, religious conflict, the changing relationships between rulers, subjects and political elites, trends in socio-economic development and the discovery of the New World.

Making the Middle Ages, 500-1500
This module provides an introduction to medieval European history in the period 500-1500. It offers a fresh and stimulating approach to the major forces instrumental in the shaping of politics, society and culture in Europe. Through a series of thematically linked lectures and seminars, students will be introduced to key factors determining changes in the European experience over time, as well as important continuities linking the period as a whole. Amongst the topics to be considered are: political structures and organization; social and economic life and cultural developments. You will spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.
Roads to Modernity: An Introduction to Modern History 1750-1945

This module provides a chronology of modern history from 1750 to 1945. It concentrates on:

  • key political developments in European and global history such as the French Revolution, the expansion of the European empires and the two world wars
  • economic, social and cultural issues, such as industrialisation, urbanisation, changing artistic forms and ideological transformations in order to consider the nature of modernity.
Roads to Modernity: An Introduction to Modern History 1750-1945 (Part 2)
The second semester will look more broadly at economic, social and cultural issues, such as industrialisation, urbanisation, changing artistic forms and ideological transformations in order to consider the nature of modernity. You will spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.
The Contemporary World since 1945
The module surveys and analyses some of the main developments in world affairs since the end of the Second World War. This includes major international events, particularly the course and aftermath of the Cold War, as well as national and regional histories, especially in Europe, East Asia and the Middle East; the module also looks at key political and social movements. Attention is paid to political, economic and social forces.
The Contemporary World Since 1945 (Part 2)

This module addresses some of the major developments in international affairs since 1945, including international events – the origins, development and culmination of the Cold War, decolonisation and the end of empire, global movements for national, sexual or racial liberation – and national or regional histories, especially in Europe and North America, Africa, and East Asia.

Whilst interested in high politics, it also addresses social movements, ideological change, and cultural developments. In doing so, it considers the political, social and cultural forces which have shaped the post-1945 world and which continue to inform our own contemporary times.

Making of Modern Asia
A survey subject does not offer a focused treatment of a particular methodology or topic, rather we take a somewhat zigzagging journey through two hundred or so years of modern Asian history, sampling events across the region and telescoping onto particular moments to examine specific contexts. For example, when looking at the theme of imperialism we will cover the idea broadly and then take a more extended look at Japanese imperialism or British colonialism in Burma. When looking at nationalism we'll consider the emergence of official nationalism in Thailand and Japan, and more popular nationalisms emerging from liberation struggles. On political economy we compare and contrast Taiwan and China to illustrate the different trajectories of market, plan and command rational economies (relatively speaking). On the question of democracy we consider whether Asian culture warrants an authoritarian form of Asian democracy and whether or not democracy can be built and engineered as though it were simply a bridge over water.
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 Tuesday 20 April 2021.

You will take 120 credits of modules split as follows:

  • Core 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) – in History, as well as American studies, you can choose from a wide selection of optional modules covering an extremely broad chronological and geographical range. These options will allow you to focus on certain periods, events, or texts in more depth

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

Core modules

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. 

Or:

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). 

Optional modules

The Rise of Modern China

This module covers the history of China from the 1840s, through to the establishment of the People's Republic in 1949. It looks at social, cultural, political and economic developments in this period from a variety of angles and approaches.

The module focuses in particular on the ways in which Chinese society responded to the arrival of 'modernity' in the form of the Western powers and Japan throughout the period in question, but also how different groups in China tried to remould or redefine China as a 'modern' nation-state and society.

Consumers & Citizens: Society & Culture in 18th Century England

This thematic module examines the social and cultural world of eighteenth century England in the period when it enters the modern world.

Areas for consideration include:

  • the structure of society
  • constructions of gender and culture
  • family life and marriage
  • the urban world
  • consumerism and culture
  • the press and the reading public
  • crime
  • social protest & the rise of radical politics
Central European History: From Revolution to War, 1848-1914

This module aims to encourage students to develop a detailed understanding of the major political, social and economic developments in Central Europe between 1848 and 1914. They should become aware of the main historiographical debates concerning the region and the Habsburg Monarchy in particular.

As a result of their historical studies and analytical thinking, students should enhance and develop a range of intellectual and transferable skills.

British Foreign Policy and the Origins of the World Wars, 1895-1939
This module provides a study of British foreign policy, from the last years of the Victorian Era to the German invasion of Poland in 1939. It focuses in particular on the policy of British governments, giving an historical analysis of the main developments in their relationship with the wider world, such as the making of the ententes, entry into the two world wars, appeasement and relations with other great powers. It also discusses the wider background factors which influenced British policy and touches on such diverse factors as Imperial defence, financial limitations and the influence of public opinion.
From the Tsar to the Emperor: Russia in the Early Modern Period 1547–1725

This module studies the emergence of Muscovite Russia as a major player on the European arena by the early 18th century.

It examines:

  • the rapid territorial and racial expansion from the 16th century and its consequences
  • Muscovy’s first civil war
  • the struggle of the Russian crown to curtail the power of its aristocracy
  • the ground-breaking reforms of Peter I
  • the beginnings of Russia’s slow progress towards Westernisation. 
The Tokugawa World: 1600-1868
This module covers two-and-a-half centuries in Japan during the early modern era when the land was governed by a dynasty of Tokugawa shogun rulers. Often characterized as a period of relative stability, it was also a time of profound social, cultural and intellectual change. Lectures and seminars address some of the historical forces that would combine to transform society and lay the foundations for Japan’s subsequent encounters with modernity. Key themes include: the premises of Tokugawa rule, control mechanisms and relations with daimyo lords; the self-imposed policy of seclusion, trade and external relations; transport networks, class mobility and urbanization; the emergence of ‘the Floating World’ and the growth of popular culture; natural disasters, famine and economic crises; the responses of competing schools of thought drawing on Japanese, Chinese and European texts to address problems within Japanese society; the ‘Opening of Japan’ and the collapse of the Tokugawa World.
The Second World War and Social Change in Britain, 1939-1951: Went The Day Well?

This module surveys and analyses social change in Britain during and after the Second World War, up to the end of the Attlee’s Labour government in 1951. Key issues include:

  • changing gender roles and expectations
  • the experience and impact of rationing, bombing, conscription, voluntary service and direction by central government
  • historiographical debates about whether Britain was united against a common enemy
  • propaganda, mass communication and the management of information
  • planning for a post-war world, including the creation of the National Health Service and the reform of the education system
  • post-war reconstruction of cities
  • reactions to the Holocaust, atomic weaponry, returning service personnel, returning Prisoners of War
  • post-war austerity
  • representations of the period and the construction of memory
Heroes and Villains in the Middle Ages
The module compares and contrasts key historical, legendary and fictional figures to examine the development of western medieval values and ideologies such as monasticism, chivalry and kingship. It explores how individuals shaped ideal types and how they themselves strove to match medieval archetypes. The binary oppositions between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are explored through study of the ‘bad king’, and the creation of villains such as the Jew. You will spend four hours per week in lectures and seminars.
Cultural Histories of Urban Modernity, 1840-1900

The module introduces students to the cultural historiography on how urban modernity transformed everyday life in British and European cities (covering the period 1840-1900). In particular, it focuses on a range of new spaces, objects, images and discursive representations through which people tried to come to terms with rapid processes of social change. These provide a number of thematic approaches that will build into a composite picture of how experience was reshaped during this period. Topics may include:

  • ‘Haussmannisation’ processes across Europe and the contested terrain of the boulevard;
  • The development of mapping, surveying and statistics;
  • The bourgeois home as a site of identity, the meanings of interior design;
  • The department store and new contested sites of consumer culture;
  • Photography as a means of both identity-creation and detection;
  • The cultural meanings of pollution and waste;
  • Slum literature as a source of anxiety and control,
  • Museum culture, exhibitions, and the ordering of imperial knowledge.
The British Empire from Emancipation to the Boer War
This module examines the history of the British Empire from the end of the slave trade in 1833-4 to the Second Anglo-Boer War in 1899-1902. The module is divided into three major geographic and chronological sections. In the first part of the course, we will discuss the British Caribbean, with a particular focus on the transition from slavery and the period of instability in the decades that followed. In the second part, we will focus on India and the changeover from East India Company rule to the direct administration by the British government in the wake of the Indian Mutiny (aka “the Sepoy Rebellion”). In the final section, we will discuss Britain’s participation in the “Scramble for Africa” and the rise of “popular imperialism” with the 2nd Anglo-Boer War. The final, pre-revision class meeting will also discuss the metropolitan aspects of empire, examining London’s status as “the Imperial Metropolis.
The stranger next door: Jews and Christians in the Middle Ages
The module explores the diversity of ways in which Jews and Christians interacted in middle Ages, seeking to offer alternative views to these of Jews as mere victims in a religious struggle or of economic envy. We will study the complex economic interconnections between the two groups, considering the new approaches to the role of Jewish moneylending and international trade and its connections with structures of power in both communities. The module will also investigate crucial ideas on anti- Semitism and anti-Judaism and will look into case studies of intolerance and conflict between Jews and Christians. Themes to study here are the massacres of Jews in the Rhineland during the First Crusade, the persecution of Jews during the Black Death and the construction of Blood libel and ritual murder accusations. The module will also examine the internal life of the Jewish communities of Western Europe looking at communal organisation and leadership. We will consider differences amongst Jewish communities in different locations of the medieval European landscape in their understanding of Jewish Law and tradition, as well as in their own patterns of interaction with the Christian political and religious authorities in different locations. At the same time, we will explore the common cultural and religious characteristics and the creation of extensive national and supranational Jewish networks. Finally, we will evaluate the historiography on the subject and the changing of perspectives on the history of the Jews in Europe, analysing the debates arisen amongst scholars with their own ideologies, methods and approaches.
Sex, Lies and Gossip? Women of Medieval England
Later medieval England was a patriarchal society. Women were considered of great importance because of their roles as mothers. However, medieval women were also considered to be more passionate and sexual than men; they were considered wile and guileful and it was thought that they spent much of their time gossiping. Using a wide range of translated medieval sources this course will pose questions about how English women overcame and operated within these stereotypical preconceptions. It will examine women in terms of progression through their life cycle from daughters under the protection of their fathers, to the work available to single women, to married women and the law – mothers under the ‘protection’ of their husbands – and then to widows and the increased opportunities available to these women. In doing so, it will examine a number of aspects of medieval women’s lives from female piety to women and work, medieval attitudes to women and sex and the gendered medieval understanding of power and authority. The course will allow students to recover much of the essence of medieval life. Were later medieval English women merely disadvantaged or were they actively downtrodden within a patriarchal society? Further, it considers the extent to which the foundations of modern gender inequalities were established in the middle ages.
A Tale of Seven Kingdoms: Anglo-Saxon and Viking-Age England from Bede to Alfred the Great

The discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard, the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found, has forced historians to re-evaluate the Anglo-Saxon period and ask new questions about this crucial formative stage of English history. 

The history of much of this period of conversions, conflicts and cultural renaissances is documented by Bede, a monk from Wearmouth-Jarrow in Northumbria (c. 673–735). In 793, the world described to us by Bede was thrown into chaos by a Viking raid on the island monastery of Lindisfarne, an event that some Anglo-Saxons interpreted in apocalyptic terms. The subsequent settlement of Vikings across Northern and Eastern England profoundly changed the social, cultural and economic structures of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

This course covers the period from the beginning of the seventh century to the end of the ninth, ending with the reign of Alfred, the only English king to ever achieve the moniker 'the Great'. 

International History of the Middle East and North Africa 1918-1995

The module offers a knowledge of key developments in the Middle East and North Africa between the collapse of the Ottoman empire and the emergence of a politicised version of Islam. Students should familiarise themselves with the key historical debates surrounding, for example, the relative impact of regional and international factors and begin to work with some primary documentary material relating to political and diplomatic developments. They will also be encouraged to use primary source material from the region and to consider the role which historical events have played in framing current problems in the Middle East and North Africa.

Germany and Europe in the Short 20th Century, 1918-1990

The aim of the module is to provide knowledge about the history of Germany from the end of World War I to the reunification after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It will provide a perspective based on the role of Germany within the European (and broadly global) context from pariah to relevant actor of the European integration process. It will encompass the process of democratisation in the interwar period, the National Socialist dictatorship and the Holocaust and the post 1945 fragmentation until the reunification. It will also include a reflection on the two German dictatorships and the pre and post-unification politics of memory. 

Imagining 'Britain': Decolonising Tolkien et al
Kingship in Crisis: Politics, People and Power in Late-medieval England
Political and constitutional history forms the core of this module, which covers a period when kingship in England was a high-risk occupation. From the mid-thirteenth century until the late fifteenth century a series of political crises rocked the English monarchy, resulting in as many as seven depositions. The module investigates the nature of kingship and the circumstances when a king's authority was challenged.
Sexuality in Early Medieval Europe

This module deals with an important, but long neglected, aspect of life in the early medieval West - sexual behaviour and attitudes to human sexuality. Key issues include:

  • ancient, medieval and modern theories of sexuality
  • Christian beliefs about the family and marriage, and challenges to these
  • the regulation of sexual behaviour as expressed in law codes and books of penance,  including violent sexual activity
  • alternative sexualities
Environmental History: Nature and the Western World, 1800-2000
The module is an introduction to the environmental history of the Western World over the past two centuries. It examines the history of environmental ideas and our changing attitudes to animals and nature, alongside the history of human impacts on the environment using the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain as case studies. Topics include species history, the rise of popular movements concerned with the environment, the role of the state in environmental protection, the history of pollution and pesticide use; the National Park movement and the Nature Reserve and the rise of outdoor leisure and recreation. The role of wildlife television and natural history film-making will also be examined.
From East India Company to West India Failure: The First British Empire

This module highlights key debates and themes in the history of the ‘first’ British Empire 1600-1807.

Topics include:

  • trade to the East and colonisation to the West

  • how the British government protected their empire and enforced a trading monopoly within it

  • the loss of the American colonies

  • the impact of abolition upon the valuable slave trade.

The module explores the key themes of ideology and identity; the concept of formal and informal empires and the causes and consequences of historical change.

The Victorians: Life, Thought and Culture

The module mixes intellectual, cultural and social history to produce an overview of cultural trends in Britain between c. 1830 and 1901. Key themes include:

  • The Victorians, An Overview
  • Religion: Sin and Redemption
  • Poverty
  • Cities
  • Sanitation
  • Sexuality
  • Consumerism and the Mass Market
  • Entertainment
  • Evolution
Soviet State and Society

This module examines political, social and economic transformations in the Soviet Union from the October Revolution of 1917 to Gorbachev’s attempted reforms and the collapse of the state in 1991. You will look at Russia both from the top down (state-building strategies; leadership and regime change; economic and social policy formulation and implementation) and from the bottom up (societal developments and the changing structures and practices of everyday life). You will usually spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.

European Fascisms, 1900-1945
The module examines the rise of fascist movements in Italy and Germany in the wake of the First World War, setting this in the context of broader developments towards counter-revolutionary and authoritarian politics in the 1920s and 1930s (e.g. in Spain and Portugal). By comparing Fascism in Italy and National Socialism in Germany with ‘failed’ fascisms in Britain and France, it seeks to understand why certain movements were able to seize power and proved more popular than others. The module examines the social composition of fascist movements, the nature of fascist ideology and the relationship of fascism to the ‘inter-war crisis’, which had economic, political and social dimensions. The practice of the Fascist and National Socialist governments in power is also analysed and compared with particular reference to class repression and attempts to build ‘consent’, policies on ‘race’ and expansion through conquest; the module ends by considering the Axis and genocide during the Second World War.
The Venetian Republic, 1450-1575

This module explores the nature of the Venetian Republic in the later fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It examines the constitution, and administrative and judicial system, its imperial and military organisation, but will above all focus on the city and its inhabitants. The module will examine the enormous cultural dynamism of the city (especially the visual arts from the Bellini to Tintoretto and Veronese), changing urban fabric, the role of ritual and ceremony, the position of the Church, and class and gender.

  • Venice and international context
  • The Venetian economy
  • Constitution and administration
  • Venice at war and peace
  • Patricians, citizens and popular classes
  • Women in Venice: wives and workers, whores and nuns
  • Urban fabric
  • Patronage and the arts
  • Artisans and printers
  • Religion and the republic
  • Jews and foreigners
De-industrialisation: A Social and Cultural History, c.1970-1990

In the 1970s and 1980s, momentous economic changes swept through traditional industrial regions across the West, turning proud heartlands into rustbelts in less than a generation. As the lights went out in shipyards, steelworks, coal mines and manufacturing plants, a way of life was destroyed for millions of manual workers and their families, with profound repercussions on identities, communities and urban topographies. This module examines the social and cultural impact of de-industrialisation in the north of England, the German Ruhr basin, and the American Midwest, using a wealth of diverse primary sources, from government records to popular music, to tease out what it meant to live through a period of tumultuous socio-economic change. The module takes thematic approaches, exploring topics including:

  • Change and decline in traditional industries such as coal, steel and shipbuilding.
  • Political responses to industrial change, with a particular focus on industrial conflict over closures.
  • The impact of de-industrialisation on manual workers and their ways of life.
  • Changing ideas of social class.
  • Mass unemployment and its social and cultural consequences.
  • Gender and identity, with a particular emphasis on the crisis of ‘muscular masculinity’.
  • Urban decline and regeneration.
  • Youth and youth subcultures in post-industrial cities.
  • Cultural representations of de-industrialisation, with emphasis on popular music, fiction and feature films.
Liberating Africa: Decolonisation, Development and the Cold War, 1919-1994

The purpose of this module is to examine current debates in the historiography about the end of the European empires in African and the emergence of a new political system of independent states. Topics which will feature particularly strongly are

  • the emergence of a variety of different forms of African nationalism
  • the ongoing debate about the uneven economic development of Africa during the last years of empire and the first years of independence
  • the controversies surrounding the numerous colonial wars which were fought during the liberation struggle
  • the significance of race including the question of European settlements and migration
  • the impact of the Cold War on the politics of decolonisation. Countries which will be examined in particular detail will include Egypt, Algeria, Ghana, the Congo, Kenya, Angola, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
'Slaves of the Devil' and Other Witches: A History of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe
The module offers an overview of the history of witchcraft and covers a wide geographical area spreading from Scotland to the Italian peninsula and from Spain to Russia. Such breadth of reference is of vital importance because, in contrast to the uniform theology-based approach to witch persecution in Western and Central Europe, the world of Eastern Orthdox Christianity represented a very different system of beliefs that challenged western perceptions of witchcraft as a gendered crime and lacked their preoccupation with the diabolical aspect of sorcery. The module’s geographical breadth is complemented by thematic depth across a range of primary sources and case studies exploring the issues of religion, politics, and social structure.
Poverty, Disease and Disability: Britain, 1795-1930

This module explores the role of the poverty, disease and disability in shaping lives between 1795 and 1930, and how these intersected with ideas of and attitudes to health and welfare. It also examines representations of poverty, disease and disability in museums and on TV.

Themes include:

  • understanding poverty, disease, disability in an age of progress and reform
  • the problem of the poor? Poverty, the poor law and workhouses
  • studying poverty, disease and disability: sources and representations
  • town versus country - the healthy countryside?
  • housing conditions: the slum
  • disease
  • working conditions
  • disability and the deaf
  • ‘madness’: mental illness in an age of reason
  • hygiene and health care
  • unrest and dissatisfaction: resistance, rebellion and riot
Rule and resistance in colonial India, c.1757-1857

This module introduces the history of the British imperial expansion in India from the mid eighteenth century, through to the Rebellion in 1857. It covers:

  • the rise of trade relations with India
  • the growth of territorial rule through war and negotiation with Indian rulers
  • resistance to imperial rule through mutiny
  • the debate over sati (widow immolation)

 

Travel and Adventure in the Medieval World

The module looks at peoples and places in the period c.1150-c.1250 from the perspective of travel. It shifts the focus of Christian/Muslim/Jewish/Mongol interactions from the more traditional medieval narratives of conflict, crusade and conquest, to those of Trade, Pilgrimage, Exploration and Mission. The introductory classes look at medieval travel and what people in the world with the Mediterranean at its centre knew, and thought they knew, about the rest of the World, including far-flung places that only a few people had ever ‘seen’. The lecture and seminar topics include introduce Travel Writing, Monsters, Maps, Crusades, Merchants, Pilgrims, Explorers, Envoys, Missionaries, and Assassins. Examples are drawn from Jewish, Muslim and Christian experience.

History of Yugoslavia and Successor States since 1941

This module covers the history of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, formed after WWII. We will discuss key economic and political factors of the state’s creation and disintegration, as well as Yugoslavia’s individuality during the Cold War.

Other topics for discussion include gender and social inequalities, nationalism and its rise, and circumstances surrounding the state’s collapse into the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s.

Screening Russia: Film and Society from the Tsars to Putin

 If you are studying Russian or East European Cultural Studies, this is an optional year-long module. It examines Russian society and culture as reflected in popular and influential films from 1900 to the present day, covering a variety of genres (including melodramas, biopics, youth films and musical comedies).

Lectures and seminars examine Russian and Soviet cinema’s historical contexts and reception, as well as how films are constructed technically. You develop skills in analysing cinema in its historical and social contexts, from the products of the burgeoning industry of late imperial Russia to post-Soviet arthouse films and blockbusters – via the extraordinary legacy of Soviet cinema. All the films covered are available with subtitles, and this module does not require any prior study of film.

The History and Culture of Early Rus' c.800-1400

This module introduces you to the medieval period in the history of the East Slavs, covering pre-Christian times to the Mongol conquests and beyond.

Through lectures and workshops, we will explore political, cultural and social developments, with a particular emphasis on working with primary sources in various media (including texts, painting and architecture).

The module draws on a selection of primary sources in translation, which you learn to assess as historical evidence. It also focuses on basic trends in the historiography of this period and how it has been manipulated for various political purposes in modern times.

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.

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 & the World in the American Century: US Foreign Policy, 1898-2008

This module offers a critical introduction to understanding America's place in the world. It provides historical and political analyses of U.S. foreign relations, looking at the themes and traditions that have shaped America's increasing influence in global affairs from the late nineteenth century to the present day. From the war of 1898 to the conflicts of the early twenty-first century, it examines how America's involvement abroad has changed over time. How can we understand the evolution of America's relationship with the wider world; what interests and themes have lain behind the execution of American power? The course analyses traditional political and diplomatic issues, as well as 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. It also engages with important contemporary trends in the historiography of U.S. foreign policy, including those that emphasise the significance of race, gender, emotions, and religion.

Contemporary North American Fiction

This course 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. The course will examine the dominant ideas and concerns of a number of fictions and novels by writers from a range of ethno-cultural backgrounds. Issues for discussion 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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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 opt 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.

You will take 120 credits of modules.

The number of core and optional module credit breakdowns can vary, depending on what you choose for your dissertation.

Core modules (40-60 credits)

  • History special subject (40 credits) – everyone takes a year-long, compulsory ‘Special Subject’ in history, which is worth 40 credits
  • Dissertation (20-40 credits) – you can do a dissertation in either American Studies or History. You have the choice of doing a 20-credit one semester dissertation, or a 40-credit year-long dissertation in American Studies, OR a 20-credit year-long dissertation in History

Optional modules (40-60 credits)

  • Choose from a selection of optional modules

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
Dissertation in History

This module involves the in-depth study of a historical subject from which you will create a 10,000 word dissertation. You will have regular meetings with your supervisor and a weekly one hour lecture to guide you through this task.

Recent dissertation topics have included:

  • Richard II, William Shakespeare and the Revolution of 1399
  • The Image of the Male Witch in Early Modern Iceland
  • Lord Salisbury and the Mediterranean Agreements: Revisiting Anglo-German Relations, 1886-1896
  • A Re-evaluation of Prince Lichnowsky's Role as the German Ambassador in London in the July 1914 Crisis
  • Interwar British Fascist Movements and Race, 1922-1940
  • 'No Country, No Home': The Abandonment of the South Vietnamese by the United States after the Vietnam War
  • Visions of Loathing and Desire: Representations of Masculinity in Late Soviet Posters
Special Subject in History

You will take a Special Subject module in History based on a range of options.These include:

  • Culture, Society and Politics in 20th-Century Russia
  • Victorians in Italy: Travelling South in the Nineteenth Century 
  • The History of a Relation: Jews in Modern Europe 
  • The British Civil Wars c.1639-1652
  • Samurai Revolution: Reinventing Japan, 1853-1878 
  • Faith and Fire: Popular Religion in Late Medieval England 
  • The Black Death
  • After the Golden Age: The West in the 1970s & 1980s
  • British Culture in the Age of Mass Production, 1920-1950
  • Life During Wartime: Crisis, Decline and Transformation in 1970s America
  • Imperial Eyes: the Body in Enlightenment Thought, c.1730-1830
  • Overseas Exploration, European Diplomacy, and the Rise of Tudor England
  • Alternatives to War: Articulating Peace since 1815
  • A Green and (un) Pleasant Land? Society, Culture and the Evolution of the British Countryside
  • 'The Past That Won't Go Away': The Civil War and the Memory of Wars in Spain
  • From Revelation to ISIS: Apocalyptic Thought from the 1st to 21st Century
  • Plague, Fire and the Reimagining of the Capital 1600-1720: The Making of Modern London
  • Transnationalising Italy: A History of Modern Italy in aTransnational Perspective

Optional modules

Britain on Film
This course analyses the history of Britain since the 1930s through twelve classic films. We will examine the films as historical documents, that is, as interventions in the cultural, social, and political debates of their time, and as guides to those questions for historians. The questions to ask are: what do these films tell us about the society which produced them? What do they tell us about social, political, cultural and intellectual debates of the period in which they were made? How do the films address those debates? The films change each year, but will include: the documentaries of Humphrey Jennings, Ealing Comedy, British New Wave, 60s cinema, Derek Jarman, and “heritage” costume drama. Workload: every week students will watch one film and do a detailed synopsis of the film in the class, and will also do other class tasks based on reading articles or book sections.
Artistic Licence: Social Satire and Political Caricature in Britain, c1780-c1850

Between c.1780 and c.1850, social and political satire adopted new, innovative and scurrilous forms of output in Great Britain and its leading practitioners - William Hogarth, James Gillray, William Hone, George Cruikshank and John Doyle became major ‘celebrities’ in their own right. This module explores the definition, nature and use of social satire and political caricature in this period, with a particular stress on ‘reading’ and ‘de-coding’ them as historical artefacts. Students will consider the definition of satire and caricature in this period and examine - in historical context - specific examples of its usage; case studies will include the wars with Revolutionary and Napoleonic France (1793-1815), the Queen Caroline Affair (1820) and the ‘Constitutional Revolution’ (1828-32). Throughout, the emphasis will be on assessing the historical context which gave rise to satirical output and evaluating the contribution which it made in the period; students will also consider how justified it is to describe this period as ‘the golden age of caricature’.

Philosophies of the Revolution: Anti-Imperialism and British Decolonization in the Twentieth Century

This module aims to provide an overview of some of the ideas which emerged in the periphery of the British empire during the 20th century and their influence on decolonization in India, the West Indies, Malaya, the Arab world and Ghana.

Five texts will be examined particularly closely:

  • Gandhi's overview of his life and opinions (The Story of My Experiments with Truth)
  • Eric Williams' memoir of his life and education in Trinidad (Inward Hunger)
  • Chin Peng's account of his war against the British in Malaya (Alias Chin Peng)
  • Nasser's treatise on revolutionary politics in the Arab world (The Philosophy of the Revolution)
  • Nkrumah's analysis of his role in the anti-colonial struggle in Ghana (The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah)
Henry VIII: Monarchy, Power and Religion in England, 1509-1547

Henry VIII’s reign was one of the most transformative in English history. It oversaw a break with the papacy that fundamentally altered the religious and political make-up of the realm. It saw royal authority become increasingly absolute under a king who was now also the head of the church. It witnessed numerous courtiers rise and fall as families vied for the attention of the king – and often his hand in marriage. All this left England a fundamentally different place in 1547 than it had been in 1509. This module aims to expand on and challenge this knowledge to bring to life a clearer picture of how monarchy, power and religion operated in sixteenth-century England.

The Rise and Fall of Thatcherism, 1975-1992

This module explores the political, social and cultural history of late twentieth-century Britain. It does so by engaging critically with the political project that is often referred to as ‘Thatcherism’. Associated with the political leadership of Margaret Thatcher, who was Britain’s Prime Minister from 1979 until 1990, this project is frequently described as a transformative ideological movement that re-shaped British politics from the late-1970s. In this module, students will bring this notion under scrutiny by locating Thatcher’s ideas and beliefs within a broader historiographical context. 

The Celtic Fringe: Scotland and Ireland, c.1066-1603

Both Scotland and Ireland were neighbours to the medieval ‘superpower’ that was England, which throughout this period was not only economically more powerful than either Scotland or Ireland, but which was politically and militarily aggressive towards its neighbours.

This module will address how Scotland and Ireland fared with their troublesome neighbour. How Scotland and Ireland responded to English aggression will offer students the opportunity to explore and engage with the contrasting outcomes for both countries. 

Global Histories of Labour and Capital: Perspectives from India

This module will focus on the histories of labour and capital and will explain how these two histories have shaped the modern world, particularly South Asia. It will approach a given topic from a global angle and then will illustrate it through specific western and non-western examples. It covers the following themes: 

  • Industrialization: Time, Discipline, and Work
  • Capital and Labour Alienation
  • Capitalism & the History of the Night Work and Sleep 
  • Welfare Capitalism
  • Machines, Artisans, and Industrialization
  • Craft Cultures and Skills
  • Child Labour and Working-Class families
  • Working-Class Childhoods and Schooling
  • Domestic Servants and the Colonial Master
Crime and Punishment in England

The nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth in Britain witnessed a rapid and dramatic expansion of the state, the apparatus of policing, mass media, and the role of the government in regulating morality. The study of these processes has produced lively debate within the field of British history, and many of the most notable historians of modern Britain have written on these topics. Our task will be both to examine the subjects of crime, law, and morality in the broader context of modern British society, politics, and economics and to delve into the rich primary sources that various legal and media campaigns generated.

'Slaves of the Devil' and Other Witches: A History of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe
The module offers an overview of the history of witchcraft and covers a wide geographical area spreading from Scotland to the Italian peninsula and from Spain to Russia. Such breadth of reference is of vital importance because, in contrast to the uniform theology-based approach to witch persecution in Western and Central Europe, the world of Eastern Orthdox Christianity represented a very different system of beliefs that challenged western perceptions of witchcraft as a gendered crime and lacked their preoccupation with the diabolical aspect of sorcery. The module’s geographical breadth is complemented by thematic depth across a range of primary sources and case studies exploring the issues of religion, politics, and social structure.
The Rise (and Demise?) of Capitalism

This module examines the development of capitalism from the 15th to the 21st century. It uses England/Britain as its case study, looking at both imperial developments and England’s/Britain’s wider role in world trade.

In particular, this module charts the varying manifestations of capitalism (commercial; industrial; financial; consumer) and how and why the character of capitalism has changed over time.

It also looks at who benefitted/benefits and who lost/loses under each form of capitalism and how it worked/works in practice

Italy at War, 1935-45

Spending four hours per week in seminars and tutorials, you will be given a framework to understand the experience of Italians (and to a lesser degree their enemies, allies, and collaborators) during the military conflicts in the long decade 1935-45, as well as knowledge of the background factors that shaped these experiences. As source material you will have the chance to explore diplomatic correspondence, personal memoirs, newspapers and magazines, newsreels, as well as examining the representation of the war in literature and cinema. You will have four hours of seminars each week for this module.

Napoleonic Europe and its Aftermath, 1799-1848

Napoleon broadened and reshaped the dynamics of the French Revolution, war and state reform. He was also a symbol of a new world where an individual from a lower noble family and an obscure island could dominate the continent. The module takes a chronological view of politics, international affairs, war, personalities and ideas.

Coverage will focus on France, the German states, Prussia, Austria, Russia and Northern Italy. 

The 1960's: A Decade of Change?

This module surveys and analyses developments across what Arthur Marwick has called the ‘long Sixties’ in Western Europe and North America from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s.

Content will include coverage of the following:

•    The Sixties and memory
•    The 1950s and consensus
•    Permissiveness and the sexual revolution
•    Women’s experiences
•    The Civil Rights Movement
•    The Vietnam War
•    Protest Movements and 1968
•    Youth Culture
•    The Watergate Scandal

There will be a particular emphasis on exploring the use of, and critical engagement with, the extensive primary material which is available for the period.

Peoples, Places, Races and Monsters: the Known and the Unknown in High-Medieval Travel

The module looks at peoples and places in the period c.1150-c.1250 from the perspective of travel. It shifts the focus of Christian/Muslim/Jewish/Mongol interactions from the more traditional medieval narratives of conflict, crusade and conquest, to those of Trade, Pilgrimage, Exploration and Mission. The introductory classes look at medieval travel and what people in the world with the Mediterranean at its centre knew, and thought they knew, about the rest of the World, including far-flung places that only a few people had ever ‘seen’.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.
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.

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.

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. 

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 History graduate, you will have an in-depth and wide-ranging knowledge of key periods, movements and developments within American and international history. You will also have gained valuable transferable skills, including:

  • adaptability, independence and initiative
  • critical thinking 
  • strong communication, both oral and written
  • presenting ideas and information, including collaboratively
  • planning and researching written work
  • source analysis 

Read our American and Canadian Studies graduate profiles

Read our History 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.

 

75.1% of undergraduates from the School of Humanities secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary was £22,180*

*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 knew I wanted to study history at university, but in searching for a course I wanted the opportunity to diversify my focus. Being joint honours with American studies has afforded me the opportunity to study not only American history, but also its literature and culture as well. "
Emily Smith, American Studies and History BA

Related courses

The University has been awarded Gold for outstanding teaching and learning

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) 2017-18

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.