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BA History and American Studies
Combine a specialist study of the United States with a range of diverse historical periods.

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BA History and American Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2019

Course description

BA History and American Studies will allow you to examine the history of the United States from colonization through to the present-day.

The course will train you in the methods of American Studies and the skills of historical scholarship. You will also be given the opportunity to study aspects of history that interest you most, from ancient, medieval, modern, and economic and social history, to the history of science, technology and medicine.

The University of Manchester was the home of the first Department of American Studies in the UK, and you will be taught by one of the largest concentrations of US historians in the country.

Our areas of specialization range widely from the European colonization of the Caribbean in the seventeenth century, through to the development of US racialized slavery, America's Cold War strategy, and the history of US sport in the late twentieth century.

You will be taught by political, intellectual, social, and cultural historians, gain advanced historical skills, such as those of analysis, debate, and argument, and acquire an appreciation of the historiographical debates that have shaped American and world history.

These skills will be refined further through the study of a wide corpus of materials that includes musical scores, diplomatic memoranda, and political cartoons, and through the composition of essays and a final-year dissertation.

Students on this course are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunities for study abroad, especially with our partner institutions in North America and Europe. Find out more about our  North American partners  and  European partners  .

Aims

The course aims to:

  • provide you with the opportunity to engage with a significant range of relevant American history, culture, politics and film, exploiting their interdependence and distinctiveness within the discipline of American Studies;
  • offer substantial opportunities to pursue, in parallel with American Studies, the study of diverse historical periods, themes, cultures and sub-cultures;
  • develop your powers of critical and analytical thinking, the ability to apply these to primary and secondary texts, and to foster skills in written and verbal forms of expression;
  • produce graduates possessing the transferable skills of self-management and independence essential for employment, postgraduate study, or further training.

Special features

Placement year option

Apply your subject-specific knowledge in a real-world context through a placement year in your third year of study, enabling you to enhance your employment prospects, clarify your career goals and build your external networks.

Connect with like-minded students

Join the History Society, which plays a key role in building a community among History students at Manchester by organising trips (in the UK and on the continent), hosting social events, and coordinating the student magazine, The Manchester Historian .

You can also join the University of Manchester American Studies Society (UMASS), which organises social events and cultural activities with an American theme.

Teaching and learning

Teaching takes the form of tutor-led sessions, lectures and seminars.

You will spend approximately 12 hours a week in formal study sessions. For every hour spent at University, you will be expected to complete a further two to three hours of independent study. You will also need to study during the holiday periods.

A significant part of your study time will be spent reading, taking notes, preparing presentations and writing essays (which examine particular aspects of a subject in greater depth).

Classroom time is frequently supplemented by new media, such as the virtual learning environment, Blackboard. You will also have access to other digital resources to support your learning.

For some course units you'll join in group work and other forms of collaborative learning.

Coursework and assessment

You will be assessed in various ways, including:

  • written and oral examinations;
  • coursework essays;
  • research reports;
  • practical tests;
  • learning logs;
  • web contributions.

Many course units are assessed through a mixture of techniques.

In your final year, you will write a dissertation.

Your second-year work counts toward 33% of your final degree result. Your third-year work accounts for the remaining 67%.

Course content for year 1

Get grounding in the history of the US, from its formation in the late 18th century through to the end of the Cold War.

You can also take optional units in other historical periods and contexts, alongside several units on the key themes and critical debates within the field of American Studies.

Course units for year 1

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
From Reconstruction to Reagan: American History, 1877-1988 AMER10002 20 Mandatory
American History to 1877: Columbus to Civil War AMER10211 20 Mandatory
Introduction to American Studies AMER10501 20 Mandatory
Introduction to American Literature to 1900 AMER10021 20 Optional
Twentieth Century American Literature AMER10312 20 Optional
Forging a New World: Europe c.1450-1750 HIST10301 20 Optional

Course content for year 2

Choose from units covering US history, literature, film, and politics, as well as a wide selection of options from other historical periods and contexts.

You can also apply to spend some of your second year abroad in the US. The course holds more than twenty exchange partnerships with institutions across North America, including North Carolina State, University of Illinois, Rutgers University, and the University of Toronto.

Course units for year 2

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
From Jamestown to James Brown: African-American History and Culture AMER20141 20 Mandatory
American History Long Essay AMER20022 20 Optional
American Film Studies AMER20071 20 Optional
Work and Play in the USA, 1880-2010 AMER20111 20 Optional
American Cultural Studies AMER20331 20 Optional
Women in US Literature & History AMER20382 20 Optional
Southern Crossings: Race, Gender and Sexuality AMER20412 20 Optional
American Literature and Social Criticism, 1900-Present AMER20482 20 Optional
American Civil War AMER21002 20 Optional
The Conquering Hero: The Life, Times and Legacy of Alexander The Great CAHE20042 20 Optional
The Roman Empire 31BC - AD235: Rome's Golden Age CAHE20052 20 Optional
Politics and Society in Classical Greece CAHE20061 20 Optional
Roman Women in 22 Objects CAHE20531 20 Optional
Making of the Modern Mind: European Intellectual History in a Global Context HIST20181 20 Optional
Winds of Change: Politics, Society and Culture in Britain, 1899 -1990 HIST20251 20 Optional
Independent Research Project HIST20390 20 Optional
Late Imperial China: From the Jesuits to the East India Company HIST20422 20 Optional
The Cultural History of Modern War HIST20482 20 Optional
Crisis and Prosperity in Twentieth-Century Europe HIST21112 20 Optional
Colonial Encounters: Race, Violence, and the Making of the Modern World HIST21121 20 Optional
From Catastrophe to Crusade: Europe in the Aftermath of the Vikings HIST21141 20 Optional
The Stuff of History: Objects Across Borders, 1500-1800 HIST21152 20 Optional
From Cholera to Aids: A Global History of Epidemics HSTM20031 10 Optional
From Cholera to Aids: A Global History of Epidemics HSTM20081 20 Optional
The Crisis of Nature: Issues in Environmental History HSTM20092 10 Optional
The Information Age HSTM20282 10 Optional
From Frankenstein to the Matrix: Science Fiction & Film HSTM20302 10 Optional
The Crisis of Nature: Issues in Environmental History HSTM20592 20 Optional
The Information Age HSTM20782 20 Optional
From Frankenstein to the Matrix HSTM20802 20 Optional
Science and Civilisation in East Asia JAPA23002 20 Optional
Religion, Culture and Gender RELT20121 20 Optional
100 Years of Revolution: Russia from Lenin to Putin RUSS20242 20 Optional
The Making of Modern Russia RUSS20251 20 Optional
The 1989 Revolutions and their Aftermaths RUSS20471 20 Optional
Beginner's Statistics and Computing in Humanities SALC21002 20 Optional
All about Eve: Encountering the First Woman from Antiquity to Today SALC21132 20 Optional
Essential Enterprise UCIL22001 10 Optional
Essential Enterprise UCIL22002 10 Optional
The Art of Enterprise UCIL24002 10 Optional
Displaying 10 of 40 course units for year 2

Course content for year 3

Tailor your course to the historical topics and debates that most interest you.

As well as selecting from a series of advanced courses within American Studies, you will write a compulsory long essay on a subject of your choice, under the supervision of an academic tutor.

You'll also have the option to take several specialised courses within History.

Course units for year 3

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Long Essay AMER30002 20 Optional
Love American Style AMER30161 20 Optional
Harlem and the State of Urban America AMER30511 20 Optional
Beat Writing AMER30792 20 Optional
American Hauntings AMER30811 20 Optional
Athens and Attica CAHE30052 20 Optional
The Roman Army and the North-West Frontiers CAHE30882 20 Optional
Egypt in the Graeco-Roman Worl CAHE31401 20 Optional
The Early Roman Republic CLAH30041 20 Optional
Culture and Society in Germany 1871-1918 GERM30721 20 Optional
London and Modernity 1880-1960 HIST30102 20 Optional
'A Nation In The Making': India, 1800-1947 HIST30291 20 Optional
Empire, Gender and British Heroes, c.1885 - 2000 HIST30621 20 Optional
Thesis (40 credits) HIST30970 40 Optional
Gender and Sexuality in Modern Africa HIST31001 20 Optional
China & the West: From the Opium War to the Olympic Games HIST31201 20 Optional
Contesting the Supernatural in the Early Modern British Isles, c. 1600-1800 HIST31292 20 Optional
Sex, Drugs and Shopping: Readdressing Inter-war Britain HIST31341 20 Optional
'First Modern Economy' and 'First Industrial Nation': The Netherlands, England, c.1600-1850 HIST31382 20 Optional
The Great Irish Famine and Its Impact, 1845-1900 HIST31451 20 Optional
The Comparative and Transnational History of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany HIST31521 20 Optional
John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and U.S. Foreign Policy in the 1960s HIST31551 20 Optional
Defining the Deviant: Crime and British Society, 1888-2000 HIST31591 20 Optional
Christ's Knights: Hospitallers and Templars in the Latin East and Beyond HIST31621 20 Optional
The Aftermath of War in France, Britain and Germany: Violence and Reconstruction after WW1 and WW2 HIST31671 20 Optional
Fire, Famine and Flood: An Environmental History of England, 1500-1800 HIST31712 20 Optional
The Black Freedom Movement, 1955-1975 HIST31751 20 Optional
War, Memory and Politics of Commemoration in Eastern Europe HIST31842 20 Optional
Seaborne State? Venice and the East 1150-1550 HIST31861 20 Optional
Culture in Ottoman Society, ca. 1300-1800 HIST31871 20 Optional
Material Encounters in the Early Modern World, 1400-1800 HIST31881 20 Optional
'Brains and Numbers': Intellectual Life in Victorian Britain HIST31891 20 Optional
Caste Politics in Twentieth Century India HIST31911 20 Optional
From Imperial Encounters to Soviet Frontiers: Migration, Displacement and Diaspora in the Caucasus HIST31922 20 Optional
Becoming Christian in The Early Middle Ages HIST31952 20 Optional
Madness and Society HSTM30832 10 Optional
The Nuclear Age HSTM31212 10 Optional
From Sherlock Holmes to CSI: a history of forensic medicine HSTM32011 10 Optional
From Sherlock Holmes to CSI: a history of forensic medicine HSTM32511 20 Optional
Climate Change & Society HSTM33201 10 Optional
Climate Change & Society HSTM33501 20 Optional
Madness and Society HSTM40332 20 Optional
Bodies, Sex and Gender in Japan JAPA33071 20 Optional
Tools and Techniques for Enterprise MCEL30001 10 Optional
Tools & Techniques for Enterprise MCEL30002 10 Optional
Interdisciplinary Sustainable Development MCEL30022 10 Optional
Enterprise Feasibility MCEL30052 10 Optional
Culture, Media and Politics in the Soviet Union and post-Soviet Russia RUSS30601 20 Optional
Conquistadors, Chroniclers and Indian Informants SPLA30111 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 49 course units for year 3

Facilities

The University of Manchester owns the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester Museum and Tabley House, giving you unique access to outstanding cultural and historical resources.

One of only five National Research Libraries, The University of Manchester Library holds extensive, internationally renowned collections in the American literary field, including the Walt Whitman Collection and the Upton Sinclair Collection.

American history is also well-served by several major research databases dedicated to topics such as the African American Experience, the nineteenth-century US press, and American religion.

The English and American Studies Film Library is another substantial and growing learning resource.

Learn more on the Facilities pages for History and American Studies .

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Support Office. Email: disability@manchester.ac.uk