American Studies

BA, 3-4 years

This is for you if... you are fascinated by the United States and want to learn more about its literature, history, visual culture, and politics.

Course Description

When you study the American Studies BA, you'll discover the history, politics, and culture of one the most influential countries in modern history. Since the formation of Jamestown in 1607, the story of America's evolution has been one of ambition, controversy, and progress. This course will guide you through this evolution and introduce you to the people, ideas, and events that have shaped the nation.

Despite being a relatively young nation, America’s history is defined by the enormity of the changes that have shaped it: the War of Independence, the American Civil War, the Wall Street Crash, and the Civil Rights Movement. The impact of the country’s rapid growth has been felt, in one way or another, throughout the world. Any conversation from economics to cinema, from politics to human rights, will be directly or indirectly affected by American ideas and developments.

At Leicester you will be able to explore all that has made America what it is today. Our course is popular because of the depth and breadth of our expertise in American Studies, across American history, literature, politics, and film. While historic and traditional America features strongly on our degrees, the modern day is a particular focus, whether in fiction, politics, or cinema, making our programmes especially lively and relevant.

Key Facts
Typical offer
UCAS codes
T700, T701
Start date
September 2018
American Studies

Admissions enquiries
+44 (0)116 252 5281

Course enquiries
+44 (0)116 252 5009

American Studies website

View Key Information Sets

Why Leicester?

American Studies at Leicester is ranked in the top ten in the UK by the Complete University Guide 2017 and is firmly established as one of the UK's top providers of American Studies degrees.

Our students run a lively American Studies Society for which they organise trips to the theatre to see productions of American plays, debates and discussions, quizzes and social events.

You can experience North America first-hand by spending your third year at one of more than 30 partner universities in the USA or Canada.

A travel scholarship of up to £400 is available in your second year to help you broaden your understanding of American Studies. Many students use this to enhance their dissertation research.

Course Structure

Year 1

Year 1


  • Freedom Written in Blood: United States History, 1776-1877
  • Classic US Texts
  • Introduction to American Politics
  • US History since 1877
  • Modern American Writing
  • American Film and Visual Culture

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Year 2

Year 2

Core modules

  • The American West
  • Ethnicity and Diversity in American Literature, 1950-2000
  • Americas Plural: Latin America and the United States
  • The City
  • Ethnicity and Diversity in American Life, from Emancipation to the Present

Option modules

Choose one option module from:

  • American Literary Figures from the Settler to the Hipster
  • Domestic Revolutions: Women, Men and the Family in American History   
  • Slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction in the United States
  • From Beer to Fraternity: Alcohol, Society and Culture in North America      
  • A World Connected
  • The Making of Contemporary US Foreign Policy

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Year Abroad (optional)

Year Abroad (optional)

If you are on the four-year programme, you can spend your third year studying abroad at one of our partner institutions (If you're on the three-year programme, you will continue studying at the University and complete your degree in three years). You will take four modules in each of the two semesters abroad in any American subjects of your choice.  This gives you the chance to study modules on subjects you have not done before (examples include the history of American jazz and blues and Native American history and culture) as well as those which develop your knowledge further in areas you have already covered. You will also devote one of your 8 modules abroad to researching your final-year dissertation under the supervision of an American tutor.

Studying abroad is not just for people who are interested in travelling and meeting new people. It is about acquiring life skills that are becoming increasingly significant for a wide range of jobs in our modern globalised society. Whether you go on to work in the private sector, the state sector, a non-governmental organisation or become self-employed you will find the experience invaluable. Find out more from our International Office.

Please note that a year spent abroad still incurs a tuition fee, but this is much lower than for a normal year at Leicester. See our Fees and Funding section for details. You will be expected to produce a photographic essay of your time abroad.

We have links with many American universities:














New York

North Carolina







We also have two partners in Canada

  • If you would like to study abroad at a university in North America, you should apply using the UCAS code T701.
  • If you would rather complete your degree in three years and remain in Leicester for the duration of your studies, you should apply using the UCAS code T700.

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Final Year

Final Year

Option modules

Choose two option modules from:

  • Forms of Modern Poetry
  • Coming of Age in America
  • New York Stories
  • Blood, Terror and Belonging
  • Seriality: Film, TV and Other Media
  • The USA and the Vietnam War
  • Women in American Society from Civil War to First World War
  • American Political Development

Then choose two option modules from:

  • Literatures of Protest: Reading and Political Action
  • American Autobiography
  • Modern Monsters
  • American Masculinities
  • Screen Gothic
  • Women and Cinema
  • Slavery in The Americas
  • Indigenous Peoples of the Americas
  • The Civil Rights Movement, 1945-1968
  • Understanding Screenplays
  • The American Presidency

Alternatively, instead of four option modules you can choose one module from the first list plus one special subject:

  • Special Subject A
  • Special Subject B
  • Special Subject C

Plus your Dissertation and Dissertation Supplement.

If you spent a year abroad you will take a Dissertation with Research and Dissertation Supplement.

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Major/Minor Degrees

Major/Minor degrees enable you to create your own degree. You can study a core area in depth (your major subject), while also exploring an additional area (your minor subject).

Why not complement your Major with a subject that you enjoyed before, or which has vocational elements that can boost your career prospects? Alternatively, you may want to try something completely new that you’ve always been interested in, like a language.

Find Out More

Teaching and Assessment

You will be taught through diverse methods including lectures, seminars, small discussion groups, and individual supervision. The degree culminates in a dissertation conceived, researched, and written independently by you under the one-to-one supervision of an expert in American Studies.

Each term you will study three modules, attending a minimum of two classes per week for each module. Typically a week will involve additional events such as workshops on careers and study skills, learning groups, introduced film screenings and the opportunity for one-to-one meetings with tutors.

Assessment methods are varied, too. Our major forms of assessment are submitted essays, blogs, passage analysis, and written exams. On some modules we also assess by means of oral presentations and group work projects in order to give you a more fully rounded academic experience and to help you develop vital oral and teamwork skills for the professional workplace.

In all our modules you learn, and we teach, with the assistance of the latest technology. Our virtual learning environment (Blackboard) will give you access to articles, websites, and discussion groups and so enable you to participate more fully in all areas as well as become more fully informed.

You will have regular meetings with your personal tutor to discuss progress in your studies. Your personal tutor will also provide a sympathetic ear for all matters of personal concern, whether they be academic, financial, housing, career, or social issues.

Independent learning

When not attending lectures, seminars or other timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking research in the library, preparing coursework assignments and presentations, and preparing for exams. To help with your independent learning, you can access the Library and our social study spaces in halls of residence.

Overall workload

Typical workload hours for American Studies courses in 2016/17: 

Year 1: 13% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity

  • Teaching, learning and assessment: 156 hours
  • Independent learning: 1044 hours

Year 2: 17% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity

  • Teaching, learning and assessment: 204 hours
  • Independent learning: 966 hours

Final year: 11% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity

  • Teaching, learning and assessment: 132 hours
  • Independent learning: 1068 hours

While your actual contact hours may depend on the option modules you select, the above information gives an indication of how much time you will need to allocate to different activities for each year of your course.

Academic support

Our Student Learning Development Team provides help in the following areas:

  • study and exam skills
  • academic writing
  • presentations
  • dissertations
  • numerical data skills
  • referencing sources

Our AccessAbility Centre offers support and practical help for students with dyslexia or other specific learning difficulties, including physical, mental health or mobility difficulties, deafness, or visual impairment.

Teaching staff

You will be taught by an experienced teaching team whose expertise and knowledge are closely matched to the content of the modules on the course. PhD research students who have undertaken teacher training may also contribute to the teaching of seminars under the supervision of the module leader. Our teaching is informed by the research we do. You can learn more about our staff by visiting our staff profiles.

Entry Requirements

  • A/AS-levels: ABB. Two AS-levels considered in place of one A-level. General Studies is accepted.
  • EPQ with A-levels: BBB + EPQ at grade B.
  • Access to HE Diploma: Pass relevant diploma with 45 credits at Level 3, 30 of which must be at distinction.
  • International Baccalaureate: Pass Diploma with 30 points.
  • BTEC Nationals: Pass Diploma with DDM.

Other national and international qualifications considered.

Second Year Entry may be possible with suitable qualifications.

Selection Process

When considering your application, we will look for evidence that you will be able to fulfil the objectives of the course and achieve the standards required. We will take into account a range of factors including previous exam results.

Applicants are not normally interviewed. If you receive an offer you will be invited to visit the department.

English Language Requirements

IELTS 6.5 or equivalent. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. If you do not yet meet our requirements, our English Language Teaching Unit (ELTU) offers a range of courses to help you to improve your English to the necessary standard.

International Qualifications

Find your country in this list to check equivalent qualifications, scholarships, and additional requirements.

Countries list

Fees and Funding

  • Starting in 2018

    • £9,250 in your first year. After 2018/19, the tuition fee you pay may increase annually in line with inflation and is subject to government regulations.
    • Year Abroad: your fee will be 15% of the full-time tuition fee that applies in that year.

    Find out more about scholarships and funding.

  • Starting in 2018

    • £15,980 per year
    • Year Abroad: your fee will be £2,397 which is 15% of the full-time tuition fee.
    Find out more about scholarships and funding.

    A travel scholarship of up to £400 is available in your second year to help you broaden your understanding of particular aspects of American Studies. Many students use the funding to enhance their dissertation research but it is not a compulsory part of your course.

Career Opportunities

The University’s annual Festival of Careers is a four-day event that attracts graduate employers from across a wide variety of sectors and industries. This is the perfect opportunity for you to think about where your degree will take you and gain face-to-face time with employers.

The growth of the global market means that many jobs in the public and private sectors have an international and often a transatlantic dimension. Employers are looking for independence, creativity, maturity, and a broad cultural outlook, all of which are provided through the course.


Our Career Development Service is here to support you with advice on interviews, CVs, work experience, volunteering, and more. From Freshers’ Week to Graduation and beyond, they are here to help you reach your professional goals.

Course Qualification Duration UCAS Code Availability
American Studies BA 3 years full-time T700 Apply Now
American Studies with Year Abroad BA 4 years full-time T701 Apply Now
American Studies
3 years full-time
American Studies with Year Abroad
4 years full-time

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