American Studies and English BA


Fact file - 2019 entry

BA Jt Hons American Studies and English
UCAS code
3 years full-time (available part-time)
4 years full-time including optional year abroad
A level offer
Required subjects
English at A level
IB score
32 (5 in English at Higher Level)
Course location
University Park Campus 
Course places


This wide-ranging and diverse course combines the study of English and American literatures and cultures.
Read full overview

You will examine a broad range of prose, poetry and drama from the medieval period to the present, including the development of the novel in England and America. Authors you will study include Conrad, Joyce and Woolf in England, and Twain, Faulkner and Morrison in America.

You will have the opportunity to take optional modules in specialist areas, such as African American literature, English Language in a Global and Digital Age, Ethnic and Immigrant Writing,and American and British theatreand to also explore the development of transatlantic and postcolonial literary cultures. You can also choose from modules in American history, politics and popular culture to deepen your understanding of how literature has shaped society and vice versa.

At the beginning of year two you may apply to transfer to a four-year degree course with a year spent at a North American university, depending on the availability of places and your academic performance.

Year one

You will gain the core skills, knowledge and methods needed to work at degree level by taking a series of introductory modules to North American and English literatures and cultures. In American studies, you will explore key themes and debates in American literature, covering major authors, texts and literary movements from the early 1800s to the present day. You will also take a multidisciplinary module that explores the interaction of literature, media and the broader cultural scene in a Canadian context. In English, you will have a choice of three core modules from the areas of English language, modern English literature, medieval studies and drama.

Year two

You will advance your understanding of core themes studied in year one while developing your interests through more specialist optional modules. In American studies, you will continue to develop a multidisciplinary approach by taking a survey of North American Regions based on analysing diverse literary and cultural texts. You will also select from a range of specialised modules that enable you to study certain periods, events, authors or texts in more depth. In English, you will choose from a wide range of options to develop deeper understanding of the issues and critical approaches across at least two areas of the discipline, depending on what areas of literature, language and drama most interest you.

International study year (optional)

Students registered for the four-year programme attend a major North American university for one year.

Final year

The final year provides the opportunity to extend your analysis of specialist themes and develop your research skills through independent study. In American studies, you will choose from a wide selection of advanced-level modules in North American history, literature, culture and film. In English, you will choose from a range of advanced-level options enabling you to specialise in key areas. You will also write a dissertation in American studies on a topic of your choice and for which you have developed genuine aptitude and enthusiasm. As the culmination of your degree, the dissertation might be used to compare topics, writers or texts in North American and British cultures, or to examine literary forms, genres and cultures in their broadest sense in both national and international contexts. 

More information

See also the School of English.


Entry requirements

A levels: ABB, including English at A level

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


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.

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.

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.


English modules
You may choose three out of four modules:

Language and Context

This module considers the main forms and functions of English vocabulary, grammar and discourse and explores how they are used in real social and cultural contexts. You will look at how language is used for different purposes and how people use language to reveal and conceal social realities as well other topics surrounding language and context. For this module you will have a one-hour lecture, one-hour workshop and a one-hour seminar per week.

Beginnings of English

You will be introduced to the language, literature and culture of medieval England and study Old and Middle English texts. In this module you will familiarise yourself with the knowledge needed for reading and understanding medieval texts. In addition you will be introduced to the basics of grammar and spelling conventions. For this module you will have two 1-hour lectures and one 1-hour seminar per week.

Studying Literature

This module will introduce some of the core skills necessary for literary studies through focus on specific poetry and prose texts. You will address topics including: close reading, constructing an argument and handling critical material. For this module you will have 3 hours per week in lectures and seminars.

Drama, Theatre, Performance

This module, taught through a combination of practical workshops, seminars, and lectures, considers key concepts in the study of dramatic texts, theatre history and performance. The module frames these concepts, taking into consideration questions about who performs, where, to whom, why and how, through explorations of key moments in the Western theatrical tradition. You will spend 3 hours per week studying 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).


You will pick two modules from American Studies and choose three modules from across four sections in English.


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.


English Modules

You must choose three modules in English covering at least two of the following areas:

English Literature since 1500
Each of the modules offered will provide a comprehensive introduction to the changes in the genres of prose, poetry and drama across the period studied, placing the works encountered in the context of key aesthetic, social and political/historical contexts.

English Language and Applied Linguistics

Building on the study of English language undertaken in year one, your second year language modules provide the exciting opportunity for you to explore aspects of language use in the mind, in society and in literature.


Medieval Languages and Literatures

You can choose to pursue one or more of the medieval areas introduced in year one, or you can opt to study a new but related area. In all cases you will develop your understanding of language change and variety, registers, styles, modes and genres, as they appear in medieval texts, and become more expert in reading with reference to wider medieval cultures.


Drama and Performance

Year two modules provide the opportunity to develop approaches from the first year by studying 20th and 21st-century theatre; by exploring key critical approaches to drama in theory and practice, and by focusing on a key period in the development of our nation’s theatre.

For a sample of typical modules from each area please see our single honours BA English listing.


Typical year three modules


Dissertation in EITHER English or American and Canadian Studies 

You will undertake an in-depth study into a chosen subject and produce either a 5-7,000 word or a 10-12,000 word dissertation. There may also be scope to write a project comparing topics within the fields of British and North American literature and culture.



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.


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.


Ethnic and New Immigrant Writing in the United States

This course examines the development of 'ethnic' and new immigrant literature from the late nineteenth century to the contemporary era.  It examines life-writing, short fiction and novels by writers from various ethno-cultural backgrounds, including Irish, Jewish, Caribbean and Asian American. Issues for discussion include race, ethnicity, gender, class, sexuality and regionalism; the American canon and multiculturalism. You will spend three hours per week in lectures and seminars.


American Sexuality

This module examines Americans' differing attitudes toward sexuality over time. Representative topics may include marriage and adultery, homosexuality and heterosexuality, nudity, abortion, birth control, prostitution, free love, and rape. The module covers a range of debates about sexuality from colonial America's family-centred production and Puritanism to slavery, "miscegenation" and interracial sexuality, and contraceptive technologies including the pill. You will spend three hours per week studying this module.


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.


Contemporary Canadian Literature

Focusing on Canadian authors, this module examines literature published since 2000. It examines how the Canadian nation is imagined through key literary texts in an increasingly globalised world. Discussions will include contemporary Canadian literature's relationships to postcolonialism, globalisation, multiculturalism, Indigeneity, genre, and the US and 9/11. You will spend four hours per week 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.


 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.


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.


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.


English options

You will have the opportunity to study a range of authors, genres, linguistic approaches, and textual forms and contexts, in both national and international contexts, thinking about English in the broadest possible terms. You will also have the opportunity to specialise in areas for which you have developed genuine aptitude and passion during your undergraduate career.

A typical list of options available can be found on our single honours BA English listing.



You will have a broad knowledge of the diversity of American and English literatures across time. You will have acquired the writing, presentation, and communication skills much sought after by today’s employers and will be able to apply your skills of critical thinking and independent research in the workplace. If you spent a year abroad, you will have developed greater cultural awareness and resourcefulness, initiative and independence in responding to new situations. Your ability to work across the different fields and disciplines of the joint honours degree programme will demonstrate your adaptability and prepare you for a wide range of professions. 

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2016, 92.2% of undergraduates in the School of English who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £19,061 with the highest being £28,000.*

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.  


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.


This course includes one or more pieces of formative assessment.

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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