You'll create a dissertation that concentrates on one subject or combines both into a single project.
Apart from that you have a free choice of modules balanced across both both subjects.
You must pass year three which counts two thirds of your final degree classification.
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 Film and Television Studies
You will carry out a major individual research project based on issues and concepts investigated on the course so far as well as your own research interests. Your work will demonstrate your skill for primary research, critical argumentation and understanding of scholarly research. You will be supported by individual supervision, resources such as film databases, and workshops on research methods throughout the semester.
You will take modules from both Group A and Group B. The balance of optional modules will depend on your dissertation choice.
Film and Television Genres
You'll be introduced to the key concepts and theoretical work on specific film genres. Each year, the module investigates a particular genre or cycle such as action cinema, television drama, low-budget film productions and TV movies, and more. Combined with what you have learnt on previous modules, you will look at genre in the context of production and consumption, spending around five hours a week in workshops and seminars.
Screen Encounters: Audiences and Engagement
Through four hours a week studying in workshops and seminars, you'll gain an in-depth understanding of film and television audiences and why they watch media, taking into account the social, political and historical factors that shape audience experiences. The module also reconceptualises media users by exploring interactive media experiences such as videogames and smartphone apps. Finally, you'll conduct an audience research project, gaining skills in running questionnaires and focus groups. This module is worth 20 credits.
Video Production Project
This module combines the historical and theoretical knowledge you have gained with the practical task of video production. You'll investigate the ways that production activities contribute to videomaking through recording and editing techniques, and experience the many decisions that must be made through the production process. You'll spend time in media labs and in the field making a collaborative video production, alongside four hours a week in lectures and seminars.
This module investigates critical concepts and theoretical work on cinema in global context, and will introduce you to the critical and theoretical models surrounding global production, film texts, distribution and reception. Addressing ways films have been made and seen worldwide, this module locates aspects of global cinema within historical contexts of production and consumption. The module also seeks to untangle such overlapping categories as global cinema, transnational cinema and world cinema. Looking at a range of historical and contemporary cases, you will interrogate a body of films that both serve and challenge the interests of dominant institutions in their producing cultures. This module is worth 20 credits.
Working in the Cultural Industries
The cultural and creative industries are at the forefront of government strategies across the world for developing post-industrial economies, seen as exciting places to work, and regularly feature at the top of graduate employment destinations. But what are these industries, and what is it like to work in them? How do graduates gain entry to these competitive, highly skilled jobs? What is ‘creativity’ and why is it so important to modern economies? And what does the future hold for cultural and creative sectors?
This module combines traditional academic scholarship on the structure, organisation and working patterns in the creative and media industries with practical exercises designed to help identify and evaluate your skills and interests, to help you to find a rewarding and exciting career when you leave university. You will explore issues in the history and theory of contemporary work including key concepts such as creativity, the knowledge economy, precarious labour, and important issues such as internship culture, exploitation and inequality. As well as this, you will also conduct independent research on areas of creative and media work of your choosing. This module is worth 20 credits.
Development and Production
This module considers the main processes and people involved in the development and production of screen content. In particular, it will cover the following areas: People (talent development and management); Ideas (development and content creation); Money (financing and assets); Places (global production trends).
This module examines the development of photography in America from roughly 1945 onwards. The module breaks the period down into themes and considers:
1. the transformation of ‘documentary’ photograph;
2. the emergence and importance of colour photography;
3. experimental, conceptual and post-conceptual photography;
4. issues of serialism and seriality;
5. landscape photography;
6. the photobook
The module will draw on the work of a diverse range of photographers, including Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, Ed Ruscha, Lewis Baltz, Robert Adams, Robert Heinecken, Stephen Shore, Todd Hido, William Eggleston and Doug Rickard.
Teaching Film and Media Studies for Undergraduate Ambassadors
This module is part of the nationwide Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme, which works with universities to provide academic modules that enable students to go into local schools to act as inspiring role models. You will split your time between the university-based seminar and your allocated school, where you will be placed in an appropriate department as a teaching assistant. You will design and deliver a teaching project aimed at improving pupil understanding of selected aspects of media studies. You will be supported by the module convenor, the education specialist on campus, and the school's contact teacher. The module typically includes fortnightly seminars and seven half-days spent in school. Placements are in secondary schools and Sixth Form or FE colleges.
Gender, Sexuality and Media
In this module you will examine how issues of gender and sexuality relate to media and popular culture. You will take an advanced inquiry into the intersectional fields of feminism, queer theory, and media and cultural studies. This module also asks some crucial questions: How are gender and sexuality represented in media and popular culture? How do media and cultural industries structure gender and sexual inequalities? How are identities and practices of media audiences and users gendered and sexualised? How can gender and sexual norms be challenged in creative and radical ways? This module is worth 20 credits.
Public Cultures: Protest, Participation and Power
In this module you will explore the relationship between public space, politics and technology, through the lens of multiple overlapping and interdisciplinary fields, including cultural studies, cultural geography, digital studies, urban sociology and cultural politics. You will engage in debates about the changing nature and uses of public space, with an emphasis on urban environments and digital space. A range of protest movements will also provide case-study material and offer a central focus for your theoretical and practical explorations of the role of new technologies in controlling space, resisting control and enabling new forms of civic participation. This module is worth 20 credits.
Fascism, Spectacle and Display
This module will examine cultural production during Italy’s fascist regime. There will be an emphasis on the experience of visual culture in public settings such as the exhibition space, the cinema, and the built environment. A wide range of cultural artefacts will be examined, paying attention to material as well as visual aspects. Visual material will be situated in the social, cultural and political circumstances of the period. Topics will include: Fascism’s use of spectacle, fascist conceptions of utopia, the regime’s use of the past, the relationship between Fascism and modernism, Fascism as a political religion, the cult of Mussolini, urban-rural relations, and empire building. The module will also consider the afterlife of fascist visual culture and the question of ‘difficult’ heritage.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.