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You will have the opportunity to find out everything from Native American history to the world of enslaved communities in the Old South, the struggles of black Civil Rights activists to the crucial decisions of the Presidents – who, by the atomic age of the Cold War, held the fate of humanity in their hands. By the end of your degree, you will know the American story in depth – but you will also have a keen understanding of how much of the modern world in which we live today has been shaped by this young nation, and how the history of the United States has been intimately connected with that of the rest of the globe.
Your degree programme may contain compulsory or optional modules. Compulsory modules are designed to give you a solid grounding, optional modules allow you to tailor your degree.
The course modules section below lists the current modules by year and you can click on each module for further details. Each module lists its value (in credits) and its module code, a year of study is 120 credits.
Assessment takes place at the end of each semester through coursework, and at the end of each year by examination. In your final year, you will write a dissertation on a topic of your choice with the support of your tutors, therefore there is no final examination. Your final degree result is determined by the marks you receive in years two and four.
Want to know more?
Come along to an Open Day and experience our unique campus for yourself.
What We Offer
We offer every one of our undergraduate students enrolled on a four year degree programme the opportunity to study abroad during their third year at one of forty-eight universities across the US and Canada – from New England to California, Alaska to Louisiana, Vancouver to Montreal.
Our Year Abroad programme has been running for over 30 years and is the largest in the UK for American Studies. Students are able to study in the US or Canada for a full year, or choose to split the year between North America, Hong Kong and Australasia (where we currently have 20+ partner institutions), and so experience American Studies from a Pacific Rim point of view, as well as the Atlantic perspective gained while at the University of East Anglia.
For more information please see the Study Abroad website.
Why do a Year Abroad?
Study abroad is a unique educational opportunity that can enhance your studies, but can also demonstrate a range of skills and provide key experiences that are sought by employers. Studying abroad can provide students with increased self-awareness, the ability to adapt to new situations, as well as an increased understanding of different cultural perspectives. Spending time studying overseas also allows students to demonstrate the ability to work and communicate in different cultural contexts, skills that are of vital importance to a range of international employers.
Studying abroad also provides an opportunity to meet new people and experience new things that can have a positive effect on a student’s academic progression. Students often return to UEA after their year abroad with a new sense of confidence and enthusiasm for their subject. Having experienced different teaching methods and subjects, students are also able to bring a range of new skills and perspectives into he classroom during their final year of study.
To find out more about our student experiences of overseas study you can read the following blog entries about studying at Temple University and the University of Western Ontario by our current students Kitty MacKay and Ainsley Bowmer.
The advantage of our exchange programme is that you do not pay tuition to your exchange institution. These costs are covered by the tuition fees you pay here, and moreover, for the year you are overseas you only pay a percentage of your standard tuition fee (currently 15 per cent for Home/EU students and 25 per cent for international students)*.
Accommodation costs must be paid and vary in each institution.
*Please note that fees are subject to annual review.
Course Modules 2018/9
Students must study the following modules for 20 credits:
Exceptional States is designed to allow you to grapple with some of the distinctive, some have said exceptional, ways in which Americans have viewed the world, interpreted their own society, their own past, their own literary and artistic traditions#that is, their own culture. We aim to give you a key to understanding 'the American mind', or to put it another way, American ways of thinking. It is in a sense our intention to enable you to approach your subject#whether that be your own particular topic, your own discipline, or the field as a whole#with an ability to interpret it, understand its 'Americanness', and so understand the subtle nuances often lost on outsiders. We will, in short, give you a deeper insight into America, and also into the study of America. To that extent, your intellectual journey will be taken onward another stage. You will begin to see new meanings in past events, literary texts, images, films, and so on. You will be able to reach a deeper understanding of the complexities of the United States of America.
Students will select 20 - 40 credits from the following modules:
Consider any major social issue in American life since the turn of the 20th Century and the Supreme Court has almost always been involved in some way. Free speech, freedom of the press, the death penalty, abortion: the Court has been at the centre of the debate. Why? And how? What gives the Court the power and the authority to overturn laws passed by democratically-elected governments? And should it have such power? In this module you'll explore the answers to these questions and many others. You'll learn how the Court operates, how it gained and developed its power, and how it has become such a central part of American political life. You'll read Court opinions and learn to understand how they are created and what influences them. You'll explore the relationship between the cases heard by the Court and the politics of the time, using a range of primary and secondary source material. And you'll develop a deeper understanding of the role played by law and the Court in shaping American history. From holding that the state had no responsibility for the protection of individuals in the first two decades of the 20th Century to expanding the scope of "equal protection of laws" in the second half of the century, you will be challenged to think about the interconnection between law and politics in American history through the example of the Supreme Court. Through discussions of issues including freedom of speech, labour rights, race, civil rights, and criminal justice practices, you'll explore key issues in 20th and 21st Century US history and the role of the law and the Constitution in shaping them. In looking at the connections between law and policy you'll also consider how key legal "rights" have changed over time and what this tells us about the Court, the Constitution, and American society more broadly. You'll learn through self-directed study and seminars. By the end of the module you will have a better understanding of key issues in American history and politics. You will have developed your skills in using primary and secondary sources as historical resources. You will have strengthened your reasoning, analytical, and debating skills and further developed your writing and oral communication skills.
Race is central to the history of the United States. The conversations about race in 21st century America have their origins in a system of slavery that developed from the early colonial period. This module excavates these roots and thereby enables you to look to current conversations and understand where these began. You will follow a chronological sequence on the module, allowing us to trace the course of racial slavery in North America from its inception in 1619 through to its abolition in 1865. You will consider the roots of racism in the colonial era that strengthened during the antebellum years and beyond and consider their relationship with racial slavery. You will engage with the developing historical scholarship of slavery in the United States, gaining a deeper understanding of contemporary (then and now) debates concerning race and racial identity. Employing a range of resources including written and visual primary sources, oral histories, cinematic depictions, and nineteenth century novels, will allow you to see the networks of power articulated though race and ideas of "otherness". You'll learn through a mixture of seminars and self-directed study, often working with artifacts or source materials in seminars to enable you to think collectively about their meanings. Assessment will be entirely through coursework. The study of slavery in the United States will make you a better historian, whatever your area of interest. Concepts of race and ideas of "otherness" are so central to the study of history in the 21st century that the techniques and strategies of analysis employed on this module will enable you to think about the arguments of others more effectively and also position yourself within those debates.
Figures such as the self-made man, the domestic goddess, and the painted woman, are all familiar characters in the fictions we read about the United States. But these are not just works of the imagination to be found on the movie screen and in the work of novelists. These notable character types formed part of an emerging cultural landscape in the newly formed United States grounded in intersectional discourses of gender, race, class, and sexuality. You will examine the social construction of gender and sexuality in the newly formed United States, 1789-1861. Throughout your module you'll gain a detailed knowledge of post-revolutionary and antebellum America, and an awareness of the different characteristics of the northern and southern states during this period. You will also develop an in-depth historical and conceptual understanding of the extent to which gender interacted with other markers of difference, such as sexuality, race, class and ethnicity in the United States. You will also develop your ability to utilise, interpret and critically evaluate a wide range of source materials to explain and explore the historical context of particular gender stereotypes. You'll begin with an overview of the historical scholarship concerning gender more broadly. You will then explore various case studies each week tracing the models of gender that emerged in various contexts including consideration of region (North, South, and West), race (Native American, White and Black), and class (an emerging middle-class, the labouring poor, and elite southerners). You'll learn through weekly seminars and self-directed study. You'll be using a variety of resources including written and visual sources from the era, historical novels, and academic scholarship. You'll be assessed entirely through coursework on this module, with essay workshops and tutorials to guide you.
Students will select 40 - 60 credits from the following modules:
Has the United States helped or harmed the rest of the world during its rise to world power? Why has it been, and continues to be, involved in every corner of the globe? Your module offers a critical introduction to understanding the history of U.S. foreign relations. You will explore the key themes and traditions that have informed America's approach to international affairs, from foundational ideas in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to increasing influence in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In addition to analysing traditional political and diplomatic issues, you will consider the link between foreign and domestic policies, and the role of various state and non-state actors that have shaped America's actions abroad. You will work with original primary sources, the latest secondary literature, and a range of cultural and political texts including speeches, newspapers, and editorial cartoons. This broader consideration of foreign relations history engages important contemporary trends in the historiography of U.S. foreign policy - regarding race, gender, and the "international" and "cultural" turns - and connects them to emerging trends in the fields of American history and international relations. As a result, you will gain a detailed understanding of the history of U.S. foreign relations and the legacies that continue to shape debates about America's role in the world today.
The period between World War I and the Cold War was a period of dramatic change in the United States: from the seemingly endless prosperity of the twenties to the depression of the thirties; from isolationism to World War II; and from a population that lived in predominantly rural or small-town communities to one increasingly located in large urban centres or their suburban satellites. You will explore the changing economic, political and cultural history of this period, particularly through an examination of the cultural debates over the modernity of the twenties, the New Deal of the thirties and America's changing place in the world throughout this time. In order to explore these issues, you will engage with a wide range of sources that include political documents, literary texts and films.
The African American freedom struggle did not begin or end with the civil rights protests of the 1950s-1960s. Since the demise of slavery, black activists have been forcefully demanding racial equality. From 1865 to the present day, African Americans have not only asserted their rights as citizens, but have demanded an end to economic injustice, while questioning the actions of the U.S. government both at home and abroad. You will examine black political and cultural protest in the United States over the course of the 'long' civil rights movement. Covering the period from the first years of black freedom following the Civil War to the emergence of Black Lives Matter, you will learn about the breadth and diversity of African American activism. You will challenge popular narratives of the civil rights movement and uncover the radical impulses that have animated the freedom dreams of black America. You will study how African Americans responded to disenfranchisement, racial violence and economic inequality. You will also learn about the lives of key figures in the black freedom struggle such as Booker T. Washington, Nannie Helen Burroughs, Marcus Garvey, Mary McLeod Bethune, Stokely Carmichael and Angela Davis. Ultimately, through the study of primary sources and secondary texts, you will grapple with the complexity of black political thought and develop a detailed understanding of how African Americans counteracted white supremacy. On successful completion of your module you will have a broad understanding of the major trends in African American political and cultural history from the nineteenth century to the present day. You will able be able to clearly articulate how African Americans have shaped our understanding of the American nation, democracy and the meaning of human rights. Finally, through the close study of a range of cultural and political texts including autobiographies, speeches, newspapers and film, you will develop key analytical skills that are vital to the interdisciplinary study of history and politics.
Students will select 0 - 20 credits from the following modules:
You will have the opportunity to work within a creative/cultural/media organisation for a semester. The module emphasises industry experience, sector awareness and personal development through a structured reflective learning experience. You will have the opportunity to work within your host organisations and undertake tasks that will help you to gain a better understanding of professional practices within your chosen sector. Your assessment tasks will provide you with an opportunity to critically reflect on the creative and cultural sector in which you have worked, as well as providing opportunities to undertake presentations, gather evidence, and articulate your newly acquired skills and experiences.
The first book published in the New World was a hymn book. Music, sacred and profane, has been at the centre of American lives ever since. Distinctive American musical styles still dominate the globe, as they have done for decades. But how did American music develop into the genres that we recognise today? How did uniquely American sounds catch the ear of listeners all over the world? You will gain a thorough understanding of the development of American music. You will focus on a number of distinctive musical traditions - from minstrelsy to blues, jazz, and country; from rock and roll to hip hop - and consider the way that they have shaped popular music today. Throughout the course, you will encounter a rich variety of music and an extraordinary range of characters, from the most famous entertainers in modern culture, to the obscure, the forgotten and the neglected. Whilst exploring the development of American music, you will also examine the ways in which its growth tells a larger story about the history of America and its people. In particular, it will give you a different perspective on the issue of race in American life. Through seminar discussion, written coursework, and group presentations, you will develop your analytical and critical abilities - whether that means your ability to think about the significance of a song and its meaning for a particular historical moment, or the way that the shifting meaning of a genre of music can tell us many things about its wider social and cultural context.
How do you speak truth to power? How do you transform society for the better? These universal questions have been at the heart of movements for social justice in the United States. Throughout this module, you will develop a broad understanding of the history of the radical political activism the twentieth century United States. You'll learn how radicals, while often marginalised or ostracised, assumed pivotal roles as effective organizers in mass movements dedicated to achieving class, race, gender and sexual equality in America. Ultimately, you'll gain insight into how political change happens, while considering the ways in which marginalised groups have made their voices heard. You'll study the history of the trade union movement, feminist politics, the black freedom struggle and the gay liberation struggle. You'll be introduced to primary and secondary source material that illuminate key moments in the history of American radicalism. In addition to this you'll be asked to grapple with important questions relating to how radicalism should be defined, while also considering how protest movements have been disrupted by individuals and groups with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Throughout this module, you'll establish a broad understanding of American political history and the development of social movements in the United States, and you'll be able to clearly articulate how radicalism has shaped the American nation. Through the close study of a range of cultural and political texts including autobiographies, speeches, newspapers and film, you'll also develop key analytical skills that are vital to the study of history and politics.
Reading key historical, philosophical, political, legal and literary texts, this module track will track the emergence of human rights as a cultural idea from their conception in the eighteenth century, through the development of political rights and humanitarianism in the nineteenth century, through to the Nuremberg trials and the United Nations of Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), into the post World War Two period and up to the present day.We will trace how the idea of human rights developed at key junctures, and untangle their relationship to political and historical change.
The election of Donald Trump as President in 2016 has radically changed US politics. Yet to fully understand the current times, contemporary American politics needs to be put into context. This module covers the historical themes that exist in US politics from the eighteenth century to the present day. The emphasis will be on modern political history and contemporary politics, but this will be underpinned by a knowledge of the political philosophy at the time of the formation of the United States, the governmental structures, and political developments over historical time.
The legacy of the American Revolution reverberates throughout American history and culture. In addition to representing the nation's beginnings, the events and ideas of the revolutionary era have fundamentally shaped the way Americans think about themselves, their nation, and their history. Politics, law, popular culture, and literature have all drawn on the legacy of the American Revolution. But what exactly is that legacy and how has it been used? In this module you'll explore the answers to these questions. In addition to looking at the history of the Revolution itself, you'll consider the ways in which the legacy of those events has been shaped and reshaped over time. You'll use a range of primary and secondary sources, historical and cultural, to develop a deeper understanding of the events which led to the creation of the United States. And you'll discuss and debate the ways in which that history has been retold. You will be introduced to the history of the revolutionary era, from the end of the Seven Years' War in 1763, through the war against the British, writing the Constitution, to the election of Thomas Jefferson in the "revolution of 1800." The Revolution affected nearly all aspects of American life, including the political economy of slavery, gender relations, economic development, and the pace and pattern of white settlement, all of which you will explore in this module. You will also consider the extent to which the history of the Revolution is accurately (or otherwise) represented in contemporary discussions and ask what such representations might tell us about contemporary American politics and society. By the end of the module you will have a deeper understanding of the ideas, events, and people which shaped the founding of the United States and its subsequent history. You will also develop a critical understanding of some of the ways in which that history has been used to define core American values. You will strengthen your skills in researching, reading, analysing, and discussing a wide range of primary and secondary source material. You will also develop your oral communication skills and your critical writing skills through class-based discussions and written assignments.
Between the 16th and the early 19th centuries, the English crossed the oceans and claimed territory on every continent other than Antarctica. This module surveys the creation and growth of British Empire, examining its origins and its impact on an array of peoples. In the context of studying how the empire spread and functioned, we'll consider the varied experiences of Africans, Native Americans, Aboriginal Australians, Protestant refugees from the continent of Europe, the peoples of India, the Irish, and British settlers across the globe. The complex, intimate, and often violent interactions of these groups led to ideological battles pitting loyalism against republicanism, for example, and imperial "civilisation" against an array of indigenous cultural revivals. At first glance these struggles may seem to place the British against the subject peoples of their empire, but on closer examination it becomes apparent that they fractured nearly every population within the imperial domains. The creative energy of the British Empire stemmed in large part from collaborations between British groups and individuals and segments of their purported imperial subjects in building, reforming, or in some cases seeking to destroy the structures of imperialism.
Students must study the following modules for 120 credits:
The American Constitution opens with the phrase "We the People #". But who were "the people" being addressed by the Founders? Who was included and, equally importantly, who was excluded from this definition? And how does understanding these questions of inclusion and exclusion help us to better understand the formative years of American history? You'll explore the history of the United States from its founding to the end of the 19th Century, covering events from the American Revolution to the 'closing' of the frontier. Through a range of primary and secondary historical sources, you'll be introduced to key themes, ideas, events, and people in the early history of the US and you'll develop a broad overview of the first century and a half of American history. Beginning with the revolutions which swept Europe as well as the United States in the late 18th Century, events which fundamentally altered the relationships between people and the political structures which governed them, you'll explore the ways in which these major national and international events spurred micro-level revolutions at all levels of society. Subjects you will discuss include the radical underpinnings of the American Constitution; the reconfiguration of gender identities and ideals in the post-revolutionary period; Native American resistance to white settlement; African American challenges to slavery and the construction of "race" as a legal category; the Civil War as the second American Revolution and the subsequent abolition of slavery; Reconstruction as a lost opportunity to confirm the revolutionary intent of the Civil War; and the closing of the frontier and Native American response to continued assaults on their freedoms. By the end of the module you will have a better understanding of the history which shaped the modern United States. You will learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, and self-directed study. You will draw on and strengthen your skills in researching, reading, analysing, and discussing a wide range of primary and secondary source material. You will also develop your oral communication skills and your critical writing skills through class-based discussions and written assignments.
In 1941, Henry Luce, publisher of Time Magazine, declared the 20th Century to be "the American Century." This module challenges you to consider whether Luce was right. In exploring the possible answers to this question you'll consider the history of the United States from approximately 1900 through to the early 21st Century. Through a range of primary and secondary historical sources, you'll be introduced to key themes, ideas, events, and people in the history of the US since the early 20th Century. In doing so, you'll develop a deeper understanding of how American political and economic power developed and explore the challenges and opportunities Americans faced as the US became a superpower. Beginning with the massive social upheaval of industrialisation and mass immigration in the early 20th Century, you'll also explore, among other things, the impact of the "Jazz Age" of the 1920s, the Great Depression and New Deal of the 1930s, the impact of World War Two and the coming of the Cold War, the "Rights Revolution" of the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement, and the re-emergence of political conservatism and its consequences in the late 20th Century. You'll discuss the legacy of racism in American society, changing gender roles and the consequences for society and politics, and the domestic political and cultural impact of the half-century long Cold War. Over the course of the module you'll deepen your knowledge of modern American history and politics and explore the ways in which the legacy of the nation's earlier history runs through more recent events. You will learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, and self-directed study. You will draw on and strengthen your skills in researching, reading, analysing, and discussing a wide range of primary and secondary source material. You will also develop your oral communication skills and your critical writing skills through class-based discussions and written assignments.
How can we understand American culture? What role has America played in shaping our day-to-day lives? How can we study the United States? By analysing a series of American icons - including as flag, the cowboy and the prison - you will develop a broad understanding of U.S. culture, as well as the values that have underpinned the construction of the American national identity. On completion of this module, you will have the skills required to research, write and edit at university level. You will be able to think critically about the United States and understand the relationship between culture and politics.
How has American culture been shaped by categories of race, gender, class and sexuality? How can we unpick and understand the complex experiences that shape American identity? This module will enable you to develop and expand the research methods, writing skills, and oral skills you'll have acquired in 'Reading Cultures I: American Icons'. You'll continue your exploration of the contemporary United States, you'll be introduced to the work of critical theorists, and you'll be encouraged to think about America's changing position in the world. Classes will further facilitate skills in reading, writing, analysis and independent thinking, through which you will gain the confidence and the tools necessary to be a self-supporting learner, giving you a strong academic foundation for the rest of your degree programme.
This module will provide you with the basic practical and intellectual skills required for studying history at university. This will be done through a combination of close study of a key historical text, the literature and debates surrounding it, as well as a number of dedicated skills sessions. You will consider what it means to study history, while examining the ways in which historical scholarship has been shaped by contemporary political events. Seminars will provide an overview of major historiographical currents relating to US history, discuss different methodological approaches to the subject, and provide students with training in primary source research, analysis and interpretation.
This module asks you to consider the different ways that historians have approached the writing of American History. Covering different historiographical approaches (progressive history, labour history, gender history, transnational history, to name just a few) you will learn how the work of historians has been shaped by the context of their time and how history as a discipline has changed over time. On successful completion of the module, you will have greatly enhanced your understanding of how the discipline of history has developed over time. You'll also have the opportunity to refine your research, writing and presentation skills, so that you can communicate your ideas more effectively. Finally, this module will provide you with key analytical skills that will be essential for the second and final years of your degree.