American and Canadian Literature, History and Culture BA


Fact file - 2019 entry

BA Hons American and Canadian Literature, History and Culture
UCAS code
3 years full-time (available part-time)
A level offer
ABB (or BCC via foundation year)
Required subjects
must include essay-based subject
IB score
Course location
University Park Campus 
Course places


This course provides you with the opportunity to study the literature, history, politics, music, visual arts and popular culture of the United States and Canada.
Read full overview

The analytical and research skills you develop will help you to gain in-depth knowledge of major literary theories, political ideas and historical debates as they relate to a North American context.

If you choose to study abroad for a year (T704), you will benefit from the breadth of academic options available in the United States or Canada and experience the culture and society first-hand.

Year one

Year one offers an introduction to the basic themes and major events of American history. You will also study key authors and literary texts and explore the visual culture and popular culture of North America, including film, television and popular music. These introductory modules provide the foundation upon which the programme will subsequently build. You will learn and practise technical skills, developing your abilities in research, writing, and argumentation.

Year two

You will take two core modules, one on North American Regions and the other on Key Texts in American Social and Political Thought, which develop themes covered in year one. You will choose four further modules from a range of specialist topics that will allow you to study certain periods, events, authors or texts in more depth. You will also have the opportunity to select modules from other departments.

Year three

You will write a dissertation on a specialist subject of your choice, supervised by a member of staff, and you will choose from a range of advanced-level modules in North American history, literature, culture and politics, led by staff who are active researchers in these areas.


Entry requirements

A-levels: ABB, must include essay-based subject. 

This course may also be accessed via a foundation year for which the entry requirements are BCC at A level, find out more here.

English language requirements

IELTS 7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

Students who successfully complete the presessional course to the required level can progress onto their chosen degree course without retaking IELTS or equivalent.

Alternative qualifications

We recognise that potential students have a wealth of different experiences and follow a variety of pathways into higher education, so we treat applicants with alternative qualifications (besides A-levels and the International Baccalaureate) as individuals, and accept students with a range of less conventional qualifications including:

  • Access to HE Diploma
  • Advanced Diploma
  • BTEC Extended Diploma

This list is not exhaustive, and we consider applicants with other qualifications on an individual basis. The entry requirements for alternative qualifications can be quite specific; for example you may need to take certain modules and achieve a specified grade in those modules. Please contact us to discuss the transferability of your qualification.

For more information, please see the alternative qualifications page.

Flexible admissions policy

In recognition of our applicants’ varied experience and educational pathways, the University of Nottingham employs a flexible admissions policy. We may make some applicants an offer lower than advertised, depending on their personal and educational circumstances. Please see the University’s admissions policies and procedures for more information.  


The following is a sample of the typical modules that we offer as at the date of publication 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. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and the module information in this prospectus is provided for indicative purposes only.

Typical year one modules


American History 1: 1607-1900
You will be provided with a broad introduction to the history of the United States of America, from its colonial origins, through revolution, civil war and industrialisation to the end of the 19th century. You'll spend around four hours per week in lectures and seminars studying this module.
American Literature and Culture 1: to 1945

An introductory survey of major texts, authors and developments in American literature. You will explore a range of forms (novels, short stories, autobiography and poetry) and issues (race, class, gender) as they have been dealt with by writers. Around four hours per week will be spent in lectures and seminars studying this module.

Canadian Literature, Film and Culture

An introduction to Canadian cultural studies, you’ll examine selected literary, film and visual texts from the 20th century. Topics studied will include Native culture, the emergence of cultural nationalism, popular culture, and Canada’s relationship to the U.S. You’ll spend around two hours per week in lectures and seminars, and two and a half hours per week in workshops, studying this module.

Approaches to Contemporary American Culture 1 and 2

You’ll focus on some of the key features of contemporary American culture, including music, visual art, photography, advertisements, film, television and social media. You will spend around two hours per week in lectures and seminars.

American History 2: 1900 - Present Day

You’ll examine the history of the United States in the 20th century, assessing 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. Around four hours per week will be spent in lectures and seminars studying this module.

American Literature and Culture 2: Since 1945

You’ll study a selection of American fiction, poetry and drama, exploring changes in literary form, the rise of women’s and ethnic literatures, and the relationship between literature and its social and political contexts. You’ll spend around four hours per week in lectures and seminars for this module.

Typical year two modules


North American Regions

This module will deploy the concept of "region" and, more broadly, "place" to explore key North American texts - primarily drawn 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 and 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, 21st-century Iraq).

Key Text in American Social and Poltical 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. For this module you will spend around four hours per week in lectures, seminars and workshops.



North American Film and Television

This module examines the form and content of North American cinema and television in the 21st century and the forces and trends shaping the nature of American and Canadian films and television programmes. Topics for discussion will include the different film and broadcasting industries in the US and Canada, representation of the past in contemporary cinema and television, representations of technology, identity, gender, and race, and the Canada-US border. If you study this module you'll spend around two hours in lectures and seminars, and two and a half hours in film workshops, per week.


The American Pop Century

This module examines 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. You will examine music's aesthetic qualities genre by genre, as well as key developments within the music industry, the ways in which commercial and technological changes have influenced the production and consumption of music, and the ways in which musicians and audiences use pop music to engage with American culture and society. You'll spend around four hours per week in lectures and seminars for this module.


 The Contemporary American Novel

This module covers a representative sample of important literary fiction produced since 2000. It explores how writers have engaged with themes of race, class, gender, religion, labour and war, and the uses of historical revisionism, identity politics, and regionalism. The module covers a variety of narrative forms, genres and critical theories, from fictionalised life-writing and family sagas to speculative fiction and counter-historical narratives to transnational writing and war fiction. If you study this module, you'll spend around three hours per week in lectures and seminars.


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. 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. You will spend three hours per week studying this module.


American Radicalism

This module will examine American radicals since the American Revolution. 19th-century subjects will include the abolitionists, early feminism, utopian socialism, anarchism, and farmer populism. 20th-century 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 recent radicalisms, including the gay liberation movement, women's liberation, and resistance to corporate globalization. You will spend three hours per week studying this module.


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

This module examines how America's involvement abroad has changed over time from the war of 1898 to the 21st century. It analyses how traditional political and diplomatic issues, the link between foreign and domestic policies, and the role of foreign actors and private organisations - from religious groups to NGOs - have shaped America's actions abroad.  It also explores the significance of race, gender, emotions, and religion in shaping US foreign policy. You will spend three hours per week studying this module.


American Violence: A History

This module analyses the patterns and prevalence of violence in the USA. It will consider theories about its origins in frontier settler societies, the relationship between violence and the gun control debate and the related issue of American ideological antipathy to state power. It will consider 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. You will spend three hours per week studying this module.


Immigration and Ethnicity in the United States

This course examines the history of immigration to the United States from Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. It traces the development of immigrant communities, cultures and identities from the 19th century to the present day. The module draws on historical, literary and cultural texts, with sources ranging from political cartoons, fiction and testimony to photography, documentary film, digital art and video performance. You will spend three hours per week studying this module.


A History of Crime and Punishment

This module explores the history of crime and punishment in the United States from the period of the US Civil War through to the post-World War II/Cold War years. It looks at the shift from public to 'private' punishments, including the early nineteenth century 'invention' of the penitentiary and development of 'modern' police and the emergence of distinct regional differences in rates of violent crime and official responses. You will spend three hours per week in lectures and seminars.

Typical year three modules



You will undertake an in-depth study into a chosen subject within American and Canadian Studies and produce either a 5-7,000 word or a 10-12,000 word dissertation.


Prohibition America

You'll explore the United States' experiment with Prohibition during the period 1918 to 1933, with particular focus on crime, disorder and policing. The rise of organised crime will be considered, along with gangsters and G-men, the expanding crime fighting role of the state, the federal crime crusade of the early 1930s and the inglorious end of Prohibition. You'll spend around four hours per week in lectures and seminars.


Latino Cultures

Latino cultural expression will be examined, exploring genres, forms and sites involved in the production and consumption of Latino culture and its positioning within mainstream US society. You'll spend around three hours per week in lectures and seminars studying this module.


Popular Music Cultures and Countercultures

You'll examine the role played by American popular music in countercultural movements, focusing on the ways in which subordinate groups have used popular music as a vehicle for self-definition. Considering key issues and moments in American popular music history, you'll cover topics such as the politics of folk-protest music, rock 'n' roll and desegregation in the 1950s, rock music and the 1960s counterculture, identity politics and music video, and hip hop as a culture of resistance. Around three hours per week will be spent in lectures and seminars studying this module.


Engaging Asia: The United States, India and Pakistan

This module examines American relations with South Asia between the Second World War and the end of the Obama administration. It begins by examining the United States' support for India and Pakistan's independence from British colonial rule and ends with an assessment of ongoing American military interventions in Afghanistan and Pakistan. You'll spend three hours per week in lectures and seminars studying this module.


Recent Queer Writing

Focusing on the representation of gender and sexuality, lesbian, gay, transgender and queer writing will be considered through the analysis of selected contemporary texts. Issues for discussion will include:

  • constructions of masculinity and femininity
  • representations of 'alternative' sexuality and lifestyles
  • the relation of race, ethnicity, class
  • nationality to issues of gender and sexual identity

Authors studied include:

  • Timothy Findley
  • Daphne Marlatt
  • Dionne Brand
  • Shani Mootoo
  • Shyam Selvadurai
  • Tomson Highway
  • Ivan E Coyote
  • Dorothy Allison
  • Leslie Feinberg

If you choose this module you'll spend around three hours per week in seminars.


History of the Civil Rights Movement

The module studies the development of the African-American protest movement from the Second World War to the early 1970s. Students will consider the historiographical debates which surround this topic and will be introduced to a variety of source materials and methodological approaches. There will be a particular focus on photographs alongside other primary sources. You'll spend around three hours per week in lectures and seminars.


 In the Midst of Wars: The US and Vietnam

You'll consider American attitudes, perceptions and policies toward South East Asia from the Second World War until the end of the Vietnam War. Focus will be on the course of the Vietnam War, the role of different players (beyond the US) and the reasons that the US became involved. You'll also consider the wider scope of US policy in Asia during the period and the outlines of the wider Cold War.  For this module, you'll spend around three hours per week in lectures and seminars.


American Madness: Mental Illness in History and Culture

This module explores how ideas about madness, insanity, and mental illness have changed from the mid-19th-century 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. You will spend three hours per week studying this module.


 The American Theatre

This module explores the main developments in North American drama from the late-18th century to the present day. It examines how different theatrical movements - melodrama, minstrelsy, the 'freak' show, expressionism, social realism, the musical - connect with major historical events such as the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Great Depression and the Cold War. The module includes practical workshops around the staging, acting, directing and promotion of specific plays. You will spend four hours per week studying this module.



Among the major intellectual benefits of this degree will be your ability to interpret, analyse and evaluate evidence across a wide variety of materials. You will also gain additional research, written and oral communication and presentational skills.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2016, 94.2% of undergraduates in the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £21,336 with the highest being £31,000.*

Known destinations of full-time home undergraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Careers support and advice

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 2013-2017, High Fliers Research).


Fees and funding

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 £2,000 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/EU students

Our International Baccalaureate Diploma Excellence Scholarship is available for select students paying overseas fees who achieve 38 points or above in the International Baccalaureate Diploma. We also offer a range of High Achiever Prizes for students from selected countries, schools and colleges to help with the cost of tuition fees. Find out more about scholarships, fees and finance for international students.


Key Information Sets (KIS)

KIS is an initiative that the government has introduced to allow you to compare different courses and universities.

How to use the data

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.


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