BA English Literature and American Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course description

Rachel Adams - BA English Literature and American Studies

"The academic staff are renowned for their teaching, and that definitely proved to be the case in my three years here.''

"The level of support that I received throughout my time here has been unparalleled, and that's something that attracted me to Manchester in the first place."

Rachel Adams / 2017 graduate
Meah Worsencroft Profile Photo

''American history at A-Level developed my understanding of mass injustices throughout history and the present and piqued my attention in the academic study of the States''

''English Literature and American Studies Joint Honours enables me to study the interplay of culture and politics and understand the societal consequences of historical events on a deeper level.''

Meah Worsencroft / BA American Studies and English Literature
BA English Literature and American Studies gives you the opportunity to combine the study of American literatures, history, and culture, with a wider exploration of the literatures of the world and training in English Studies.

As well as providing you with access to the traditional range of English Literature modules, which encompass the Anglo-Saxon period through to the contemporary novel, this degree will also give you grounding in the methods and debates of American Studies, providing you with a large palette of analytical tools.

You will be introduced to the political, legal, and administrative frameworks of US politics and society, and become familiarised with a raft of concepts that have obvious wider reach in contemporary global society. These include:

  • mass incarceration;
  • inequality;
  • poverty;
  • racial stratification;
  • the logics of policing;
  • the changing nature of work and leisure;
  • radical organising;
  • military power;
  • cultural imperialism;
  • urban politics;
  • climate change;
  • conspiracy theories;
  • gender and sexuality;
  • literature and film analysis.

Working with such concepts will help to refine your critical perspectives on literature, encouraging you to place such works within broader historical, political, and cultural patterns.

By working with materials taken from the worlds of film, music, and cultural debate, you will also come to think about where the boundaries of literature might lie.

Students on this programme 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.

You'll also become part of a thriving community of students, lecturers and writers at The University of Manchester, based in the heart of a UNESCO City of Literature that has produced some of the world's greatest writers and has a thriving literature and arts scene, including major events like Manchester Literature Festival.

Special features

Study abroad

You can apply to spend one semester  studying abroad  during the second year of your degree. 

Exchange partners are offered in Europe through the Erasmus Exchange scheme, as well as the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore via the Worldwide Exchange scheme. 

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. 

Literature events  

Manchester Literature Festival holds literary events across Manchester throughout the year, many in partnership with the University. 

The Centre for New Writing also hosts a regular public event series, Literature Live, which brings contemporary novelists and poets to the University to read and engage in conversation. 

Meet like-minded students  

You can get to know your fellow students outside of your course by joining the English Society or volunteering to work on the student-run Sonder Magazine. 

Learn more on our  Societies  page. 

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

Benefit from research  

Study at the home of the UK's first-ever Department of American Studies and interact with scholars who are actively engaged in cutting-edge research at the forefront of new developments and ideas.

Teaching and learning

You will be taught mainly through lecture and tutor-led sessions.

Tutorials will give you the opportunity to consider the same texts and topics as the lectures, but with a different approach.

Tutorial groups usually meet at least once a week, and numbers are kept as low as possible so that you can get to know one another and share your ideas.

Other course units (mainly those in your final year) are taught through a weekly seminar led by a specialist member of staff.

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

You'll also have access to our virtual learning environment, Blackboard and other digital resources to support your learning.

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.

The individual study component could be spent reading, producing written work, or revising for examinations.

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).

Coursework and assessment

You will be assessed using a variety of formats, including:

  • written examinations;
  • coursework essays;
  • research reports;
  • practical tests;
  • learning logs;
  • web contributions;
  • oral presentations;
  • final-year thesis.

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

You will study 60 credits from each discipline in your first year.

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
Introduction to American Literature to 1900 AMER10021 20 Mandatory
Twentieth Century American Literature AMER10312 20 Mandatory
Introduction to American Studies AMER10501 20 Mandatory
Reading Literature ENGL10021 20 Mandatory
Theory and Text ENGL10062 20 Mandatory
From Reconstruction to Reagan: American History, 1877-1988 AMER10002 20 Optional
Literature and History ENGL10072 20 Optional

Course content for year 2

Your degree becomes more flexible as you progress into Year 2. 

You will study a total of 120 credits and may choose to study up to 80 credits from either discipline or maintain an equal weighting between the two. 

You can also apply to spend some of your second year abroad in the US. 

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
American Cultural Studies AMER20331 20 Mandatory
American Film Studies AMER20072 20 Optional
Work and Play in the USA, 1880-2020 AMER20112 20 Optional
From Jamestown to James Brown: African-American History and Culture AMER20141 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
Creative Writing: Fiction ENGL20002 20 Optional
Chaucer: Texts, Contexts, Conflicts ENGL20232 20 Optional
Shakespeare ENGL20372 20 Optional
Gender, Sexuality and the Body: Theories and Histories ENGL20481 20 Optional
Writing, Identity and Nation ENGL20492 20 Optional
Creative Writing: Poetry ENGL20902 20 Optional
Renaissance Literature ENGL21151 20 Optional
Old English: Writing the Unreadable Past ENGL21161 20 Optional
Satire and the Novel: English Literature of the Long Eighteenth Century ENGL21181 20 Optional
Modernism ENGL21191 20 Optional
Romanticism (1776 - 1832) ENGL21521 20 Optional
Victorian Rights: Victorian Wrongs ENGL22102 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 19 course units for year 2

Course content for year 3

You will study a total of 120 credits and may choose to study up to 80 credits from either discipline or maintain an equal weighting between the two.

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
Occupy Everything AMER30422 20 Optional
Harlem and the State of Urban America AMER30511 20 Optional
American Hauntings AMER30811 20 Optional
Long Essay ENGL30001 20 Optional
Long Essay ENGL30002 20 Optional
Creative Writing: Fiction ENGL30121 20 Optional
Narrative Theory and Victorian Fiction ENGL30171 20 Optional
Creative Writing: Poetry ENGL30901 20 Optional
Irish Fiction Since 1990 ENGL30941 20 Optional
Radical Turns: Culture and Politics in the 1930s ENGL31142 20 Optional
Eros: Love and Desire in Victorian Poetry ENGL31202 20 Optional
Transnational Shakespeare: Texts, Places, Identities ENGL31211 20 Optional
Apocalypse: Early Modern Imaginings ENGL31272 20 Optional
Things that Talk: Nonhuman Voices in Anglo-Saxon Literature and Culture ENGL31622 20 Optional
Introduction to Screenwriting ENGL31951 20 Optional
Culture and Politics in the Contemporary British Novel  ENGL32301 20 Optional
British Fiction and Empire in the Twentieth Century   ENGL32551 20 Optional
Gendered Experiments: Women's Innovative Writing in the Twentieth Century ENGL33061 20 Optional
Creative Writing: Creative Non-Fiction ENGL34052 20 Optional
Romantic Venice ENGL34071 20 Optional
Vital Matters: Medieval Ecologies ENGL34111 20 Optional
Humans and other Animals in Contemporary Literature ENGL34122 20 Optional
Writing Revolutions:Radicalism, Activism, Citizenship 1640-80 ENGL34132 20 Optional
Literary and Sexual Experimentalism Between the Wars ENGL34141 20 Optional
Contemporary South Asian Literatures ENGL34152 20 Optional
Imaginations of the Future: People, Earth and Power ENGL34172 20 Optional
Anthologizing Modern and Contemporary Poetry ENGL34192 20 Optional
World Literature and Climate Crisis ENGL34212 20 Optional
Culture and Marginality ENGL35312 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 32 course units for year 3

What our students say


The John Rylands Library

Home to one of the world's richest and most unique collections of manuscripts, maps, works of art and objects.

You'll have access to the library's impressive special collections, including papyri, early printed books, key archives such as the Women's Suffrage Movement archive and Shakespeare's first folio.

The Centre for New Writing

The University is home to a major hub for new writing excellence and award-winning teaching staff, including Granta Best Young British Novelist Kamila Shamsie and Jeanette Winterson CBE.

The Centre also hosts Literature Live - a public event series which brings contemporary novelists and poets to the University to showcase their work.

The University of Manchester Library

One of only five National Research Libraries; you'll have access to our internationally renowned medieval, Victorian and American literary collections, including the Walt Whitman Collection and the Upton Sinclair Collection.

You'll also have access to other cultural assets on campus, including the award-winning Whitworth Art Gallery and Manchester Museum .

Find out more on our facilities page.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Support Office. Email: