BA History and American Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

Course description

Eve Robinson

''You do not need to be a Bruce Springsteen adoring, stars and stripes adoring Americanophile to study American Studies.''

''My absolute favourite modules have been scattered across the years, meaning that I had so much to look forward to. Film Studies offered me a chance to dig into esteemed directors from Hitchcock to Nolan. Beat Writing, which I study now, teaches me about my favourite writers like Ginsberg and Kerouac.''

Eve Robinson / American Studies Student
Mia McCullion

''I chose American Studies for its interdisciplinary and intersectional scholarship.''

''As a student with quite broad interests, American Studies also allowed me to try new approaches and unique modules, like Cultural Studies or Film, alongside more traditional history and literature.''

Mia McCullion / BA American Studies Student

BA History and American Studies will allow you to examine the history of the USA from colonisation 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 specialisation range widely from the European colonisation of the Caribbean in the 17th century, through to the development of US racialized slavery, America's Cold War strategy, and the history of US sport in the late 20th 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 .

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 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

Start building your knowledge of US history, 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
Constructing Archaic Greek History CAHE10011 20 Optional
From Republic to Empire: Introduction to Roman History, Society & Culture 218-31BC CAHE10022 20 Optional
Introduction to Mediterranean & Classical Archaeology CAHE10122 20 Optional
The Making of the Mediterranean CAHE10132 20 Optional
Discoveries and Discoverers: Sights and Sites CAHE10282 20 Optional
The Odyssey CLAH10101 20 Optional
Modern China: from the Opium Wars to the Olympic Games HIST10151 20 Optional
Histories of the Islamic World HIST10172 20 Optional
Capitalism in Historical Perspective: 1700-1913 HIST10182 20 Optional
Imperial Nation: The Making of Modern Britain, 1783-1902 HIST10192 20 Optional
An Introduction to the Medieval World HIST10262 20 Optional
The Manchester History Workshop HIST10272 20 Optional
Forging a New World: Europe c.1450-1750 HIST10301 20 Optional
States, Nations and Empires. Europe, c.1750-1914 HIST10311 20 Optional
Science & the Modern World HSTM10221 10 Optional
Bodies in History: An introduction to the History of Medicine HSTM10272 10 Optional
Science and the Modern World (20 Credits) HSTM10721 20 Optional
Bodies in History: An introduction to the History of Medicine HSTM10772 20 Optional
Exploring Enterprise MCEL10001 10 Optional
Entrepreneurial Skills MCEL10002 10 Optional
Standing on The Shoulders of Giants: Foundations for Study in The Arts SALC10002 20 Optional
Living and Dying in the Ancient World SALC10602 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 27 course units for year 1

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 and Canada. The course holds more than 20 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
Long Essay AMER20022 20 Mandatory
From Jamestown to James Brown: African-American History and Culture AMER20141 20 Mandatory
American Film Studies AMER20072 20 Optional
Work and Play in the USA, 1880-2020 AMER20112 20 Optional
American Cultural Studies AMER20331 20 Optional
American Literature and Social Criticism, 1900-Present AMER20481 20 Optional
The American Civil War AMER21001 20 Optional
Uncle Tom's Cabin as Global Media Event AMER22662 20 Optional
The Conquering Hero: The Life, Times and Legacy of Alexander The Great CAHE20041 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 CAHE20532 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
The Cultural History of Modern War HIST20482 20 Optional
Colonial Encounters: Race, Violence, and the Making of the Modern World HIST21121 20 Optional
The Stuff of History: Objects Across Borders, 1500-1800 HIST21151 20 Optional
Back to the Future: The Uses and Abuses of History HIST21182 20 Optional
Histories of the Islamic World HIST21192 20 Optional
Capitalism in Historical Perspective: 1700-1913 HIST21202 20 Optional
A Transnational History of Europe in the Short Twentieth Century, c.1917-1991 HIST21212 20 Optional
Silk Roads: Eurasian Connections from the Mongols to Manilla, 1200-1800 HIST21242 20 Optional
Revolutionary Cities: The Urban World of the Middle Ages HIST21251 20 Optional
From Cholera to COVID-19: A Global History of Epidemics HSTM20081 20 Optional
The Crisis of Nature: Issues in Environmental History HSTM20592 20 Optional
Information visions: past, present and future HSTM20782 20 Optional
In Frankenstein's Footsteps: Science Fiction in Literature and Film. HSTM20801 20 Optional
Aesthetics and Politics of Italian Fascism ITAL20502 20 Optional
The Italian Renaissance ITAL21011 20 Optional
Themes in the Histories of Arab and Jewish Nationalisms MEST20271 20 Optional
History of Modern Islamic Thought MEST20501 20 Optional
Religion, Culture and Gender RELT20121 20 Optional
End of the World and Apocalypticism RELT21081 20 Optional
100 Years of Revolution: Russia from Lenin to Putin RUSS20242 20 Optional
The 1989 Revolutions and their Aftermaths RUSS20472 20 Optional
History of Latin America SPLA20361 20 Optional
Essential Enterprise UCIL22001 10 Optional
Essential Enterprise UCIL22002 10 Optional
Displaying 10 of 38 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.

The History department offers an unrivalled variety of History course units, each of which corresponds to the specific area of research expertise of our world-leading academic staff. This provides students with the opportunity to collaborate with staff in developing fresh research projects in their respective fields and make an important contribution to knowledge in the discipline via our research-led teaching.

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
Slavery & the Old South AMER30022 20 Optional
Love American Style AMER30161 20 Optional
Conspiracy Theories in American Culture AMER30381 20 Optional
Occupy Everything AMER30422 20 Optional
The Visual Culture of US Empire AMER30521 20 Optional
Beat Writing AMER30791 20 Optional
American Hauntings AMER30812 20 Optional
Novel Democracy AMER33131 20 Optional
The Roman Army and the North-West Frontiers CAHE30881 20 Optional
Culture and Society in Germany 1871-1918 GERM30722 20 Optional
London and Modernity 1880-1960 HIST30101 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 HIST31202 20 Optional
From National Crisis to National Government: British Politics, Economy and Society, 1914 - 1939 HIST31281 20 Optional
Sex, Drugs and Shopping: Readdressing Inter-war Britain HIST31342 20 Optional
Heroes and Holy Men: The Irish Sea World in the Viking Age, c. 780-1100 HIST31362 20 Optional
The Holocaust: History, Historiography, Memory HIST31492 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
The Aftermath of War in France, Britain and Germany: Violence and Reconstruction after WW1 and WW2 HIST31672 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 HIST31872 20 Optional
The Normans in the Mediterranean World (1000-1200) HIST31992 20 Optional
Curating War and Human Rights: methods in cultural and public history HIST32011 20 Optional
Responses to Globalisation, 1500-1700 HIST32022 20 Optional
From Greed to Grandezza: A History of Capitalism from the Renaissance to Modernity (1250s-1900s) HIST32121 20 Optional
From New Left to New Times: Socialist Ideas in Post-War Britain HIST32152 20 Optional
Black Britain: Power, Neighbourhoods and the Everyday, 1948-1990 HIST32172 20 Optional
British Catholics and the Post-Reformation World HIST32192 20 Optional
Disease and Ecology in Global History HIST32201 20 Optional
Collecting and Exhibiting the Empire in Britain, c.1750-1939 HIST32211 20 Optional
Africa and Development: A Political History of the Social Sciences HIST32222 20 Optional
Reshaping the World: Thinking About Global Politics in the Twentieth Century HIST32232 20 Optional
Cultural Entanglements: Life and Death in Seventeenth-Century North America HIST32242 20 Optional
Roots of the Special Relationship: The Anglo-American Connection & National Identity in the long C19 HIST32252 20 Optional
Health is a Human Right: The Global Quest for Universal healthcare HSTM30732 20 Optional
The Nuclear Age: Global Nuclear Threats from Hiroshima to Today HSTM31712 20 Optional
From Sherlock Holmes to CSI: a history of forensic medicine HSTM32511 20 Optional
Climate Change & Society HSTM33501 20 Optional
Madness and Society HSTM40332 20 Optional
Tools and Techniques for Enterprise MCEL30001 10 Optional
Tools & Techniques for Enterprise MCEL30002 10 Optional
Enterprise Feasibility MCEL30052 10 Optional
Historical Controversies in the Study of Israel/Palestine MEST30721 20 Optional
Culture, Media and Politics in the Soviet Union and post-Soviet Russia RUSS30601 20 Optional
History of the Spanish Atlantic World: Empire, Trade, War SPLA31152 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 51 course units for year 3

What our students say

'What I love about Manchester is that it doesn't just explore history from the official perspective. 

'You can explore it from a cultural perspective, from a feminist perspective, those who have maybe been left behind.' 

Xenia Bellwood, History BA

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 19th 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