American Studies and History BA


Fact file - 2019 entry

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


Combining modules in American history and global history, this course enables you to develop a deeper understanding of historical development across a broad chronological and geographical range.
Read full overview

You will study large spans of national and continental histories in modules that cover the ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary worlds. You will also examine key historical themes and developments across both departments, for example, war, revolution, political protest and international power.

In history, you will have the opportunity to specialise in periods of history that interest you most, for example, the Crusades, 19th-century Japan, the Cold War and civil rights. On the American studies side, you can also choose from modules in American history, culture, literature and media to deepen your understanding of the interaction between key historical, social and cultural developments.

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 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. You will also take the multidisciplinary Approaches to American Culture module which explores cultural forms such as painting, photography, film and music in historical and social context.

The core history module, Learning History, develops skills and introduces methodologies. Students reflect on the nature of history as a discipline and develop the skills associated with writing and discussing history.

Year two

You will broaden and deepen your understanding of American and global history while developing your interests through more specialist optional modules. In American studies, you will take the core module Key Texts in American Social and Political Thought, which explores debates about religion, race, class, capitalism, gender, sexuality and war in different periods.

The core history module is The Contemporary World since 1945, which deals with global, political and economic, social and cultural, environmental and demographic developments, but also explores key historical debates concerning the immediate origins of the world in which we now live. In both departments you will be able to select more specific optional modules from an extensive menu, covering an extremely wide chronological and geographical range. These options will allow you to focus on certain periods, events, or texts in more depth.

International study year (optional)

If you are registered for the four-year programme, you will 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. You will also write a dissertation on a subject of your choice and for which you have developed genuine aptitude and enthusiasm. The dissertation might be used to compare key historical debates and themes across both departments of your joint honours programme.

In history, you will choose from a range of advanced-level options enabling you to specialise in key areas, further develop your understanding of historiography and refine your source analysis skills. 

More information

See also the Department of History.

Entry requirements

A levels: ABB, including history 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


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 to the end of the 19th century. You'll spend around four hours per week in lectures and seminars studying this module.

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.

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.

Learning History

This module will provide you with the skills necessary to make the most of your studies in history.

You will be introduced to different approaches and perspectives in the study of history. The module also encourages you to reflect on the place, role and function of history within society.

The module aims to:

  • encourage more effective learning
  • bridge the transition from school or college to university
  • prepare you for more advanced work in the discipline
  • enhance skills.

You will usually spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.



Introduction to the Medieval World, 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.

From Reformation to Revolution: An introduction to Early Modern History, 1500-1789

This module introduces you 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 1500 and 1789. You 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’. You will spend two hours per week in lectures and seminars.

Roads to Modernity: An Introduction to Modern History 1789-1945

In the first semester the module provides a chronology of modern history from 1789 to 1945 which concentrates principally 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. 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.


Typical year two modules


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, with students spending five hours per week in lectures and seminars.

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. For this module you will spend around four hours per week in lectures, seminars and workshops.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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 19th 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.


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.


The Tokugawa World: 1600-1868

This module covers the history of Japan during the early modern era when the land was governed by a dynasty of Tokugawa shogun rulers. Often characterised as a period of stability, it was also a time of profound social, cultural and intellectual change. Key themes include: Tokugawa rule; trade and external relations; class mobility and urbanization; the growth of popular culture; natural disasters, famine and economic crises; the ‘Opening of Japan’ and the collapse of the Tokugawa World. You will spend four hours each week studying this module.


The Venetian Republic, 1450-1575

This module explores the nature of the Venetian Republic in the later 15th and 16th centuries. It examines the constitution, its administrative and judicial system, its imperial and military organisation, but will above all focus on the city and its inhabitants itself. The module will discuss 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. You will spend four hours each week in lectures and seminars for this module.

Liberating Africa: Decolonisation, Development and the Cold War, 1919-1994

This module examines current debates about the end of the European empires in Africa and the emergence of a new political system of independent states. Topics for discussion include: forms of African nationalism; debates about economic development; colonial wars during the liberation struggles; the significance of race and European settlement and migration; the impact of the Cold War on the politics of decolonisation. You will spend four hours each week studying this module.


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. 


Special Subject

You will take a Special Subject module in History based on a range of options. Examples may include: Samurai Revolution: Reinventing Japan, 1853-78; Italy at War, 1935-45; Suez and the End of Empire;Culture, Society and Politics in 20th Century Russia; The History of a Relation: Jews in Modern Europe; Sex and Society in Britain Since 1900The Reign of Richard II.



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.

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.


In the Midst of Wars: The United States and South East Asia, 1940-1975

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.


Kings, Saints and Monsters in England, 450-850

This module examines cultural and political changes in the southern half of the island of Britain between the 5th and 9th centuries, in particular the development of kingship and kingdoms as a form of political organisation, and the effects of the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. You will spend four hours in lectures and seminars studying for this module.


The Many Faces of Reform: British Politics, 1790-1850

This module explores key themes in the political history of Britain from the time of the French Revolution to the middle of the 19th century. Topics for study include the role the 1832 Reform Act in political reform, the development of political parties, the role of parliament and the monarchy, electoral culture either side of the 1832 Reform Act, the nature of the press and the role of caricatures, and pressure groups in British political life - exploring movements such as the Luddites, Swing Riots, and Chartists. You will spend four hours in lectures and seminars studying for this module.


Dark Age Masculinities

This module re-evaluates the history of masculinity in Western culture. Most existing analysis of masculinity in Western culture deals with modern cultures. Yet, many of the key characteristics of masculinity can plausibly be traced back to the Dark Ages. You will study such issues as: how to use gender as an analytical tool with which to investigate early medieval evidence; gender ideology; codes of male honour; men's life cycles and fatherhood; relations between men and women; violence; military and clerical ideals of masculinity. You’ll spend four hours per week studying this module.  



You will have an in-depth and wide-ranging knowledge of key periods, movements and developments within American and international history. 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, 93.2% of undergraduates in the School of Humanities who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £20,205 with the highest being £38,000.*

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.


exploring the past and shaping the future
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