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Course details

Study options

Full-time: 3 years, Part-time: 4-6 years

UK/EU fee

£9,250 per year* (2020/21)

International fee

£14,045 per year (2020/21)

UCAS points

112* (September 2019 entry)

UCAS code


Course level



Joint Honours

Start date



Kedleston Road, Derby Campus

What is Joint Honours?

A Joint Honours degree gives you the opportunity to study two subjects as one degree. This type of degree will broaden your skill set and enhance your career prospects.

You can combine any two subjects as long as they’re in different zones, find out what you can combine this subject with.

Course description

If you are fascinated by American culture, history and society, this degree is ideal for you.  American Studies is a stimulating, topical and challenging course which prepares you for success in a wide range of careers.

The political, economic and cultural power of the USA affects us all. This course will give you the fullest possible understanding of the different ways in which the American nation defines and represents itself to the world.

A modern emphasis

Our focus is on the USA from the 19th Century onwards. As you explore cultural, historical and socio-political themes and issues, you will be challenged to think deeply - both within and across disciplines and genres - about America’s pervasiveness and influence. In the early stages of the course, you will receive a good grounding in the subject and then progress to modules on more specific themes. And, as you grow in confidence, there is plenty of opportunity for independent project work.

Expertise and enthusiasm

Our experienced and enthusiastic team are passionate about American Studies and keen to share their knowledge with you. They will encourage you to do your best throughout your studies and adopt a friendly and supportive academic culture where staff are approachable and know your name.

Fascinating research

You will be inspired and motivated by our research-active team whose specialist areas span issues such as post-9/11 America and the ‘War on Terror’, and transatlantic popular culture. We have written influential books including: American Cultural Studies, 9/11 and the War on Terror, Issues in Americanisation and Culture, American Youth Cultures, and British Invasion: The Crosscurrents of Musical Influence.

Broaden your perspective

We will foster your awareness of key issues - such as ethnicity, identity, class, gender, representation and power - that are relevant not only to the study of America but also to your own wider experience of life.

A personal approach

Active student participation and a relaxed, inclusive style are hallmarks of American Studies. Special events such as our Thanksgiving celebration create a strong sense of community.

Study abroad

You can choose to spend the second part of your second year in Europe or North America, experiencing a different academic culture, acquiring a new set of skills and deepening your global perspectives. You can study at one of our partner universities including:

Popular Joint Honours combinations

Joint Honours gives you the flexibility to cover two subjects in one degree. Popular combinations with American Studies include:

What you will study

Example modules are shown below, the modules available as a Joint Honours student will be dependent on the subject that you combine with. In your first year, modules will be defined for you, and will be dependent on your subject combination to ensure you have the best fit. In your second and third years, module availability and the number of modules you are required to take will depend on whether you choose this subject as a major, joint or minor.

Year 1Year 1Year 2Year 2Year 3Year 3

Code: 4AM502

Freedom's Conflicts: An Introduction to American History (PDP)

This module will provide you with an introduction to key topics in American history, through an exploration of a range of significant debates about, and, sometimes, conflicts over alternative meanings of the key concept of ‘freedom’. The emphasis will be less on providing an overall narrative than on focussing on major themes and transformations, with attention to questions of power, race, gender, and ethnicity.

More generally, you will examine how different Americans at particular stages in their history have sought to define themselves, and how ‘essentialist’ explanations of American identity might be opened up to questioning and discussion.

At the same time, the module will look at methodological issues including the analysis of primary and secondary sources, historiography, and information gathering and presentation Through this focus on skills the module will encourage you to reflect on your own personal development, and to begin the process of linking your academic studies to your career aspirations after university.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 4AM505

Reading American Literature

This module offers an introduction to influential literary schools, “movements”, styles and sensibilities in modern American literary history, from the “American Renaissance” in the early-mid nineteenth century through the post-9/11 era.

The module discusses a range of literary forms, including poetry, short stories, and the novel, paying particular attention to the development of realism, naturalism, and modernism in the work of key American writers. Particular emphasis is placed on literature’s relationships with the wider social and cultural contexts of American history and Western “modernity” more generally. Literature’s interventions in conflicts that have helped shape the course of modern American history—racial and ethnic conflict, class conflict, moral, spiritual and political conflict, military conflict, the conflict between town and country, and conflict between tradition and modernity—provide focal points for discussion throughout the module.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 4AM506

The Making of Modern America

This module examines trends and themes in the making of modern America as these manifest themselves through the 19th and early 20th centuries by considering key historical drivers and important literary and visual texts.

The contradictions inherent in such a period of dramatic social and economic change will thus form the module’s focus. In The Incorporation of America, Alan Trachtenberg suggests that one characteristic of the era was “controversy over the meaning of America [which] symbolised struggles over reality, over the power to define as well as control it.”

This module looks at the implications of this remark, and at how definitions of America have been affected by such factors as technology, urbanism, class, gender, race, and ethnicity. Drawing upon literature and visual culture, the module will examine how and why various debates about modern America emerged.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 4AM507

American Screen Cultures

Through the study of its history and through detailed discussion of particular movies and critical approaches to film, this module offers an introduction to Hollywood cinema in the Studio Era. Issues discussed will include the emergence and development of the studio system, the star system, and the construction of “Classical Hollywood” film style. The module will also emphasise the ideological contexts which have shaped these movies, and so will consider the broader historical and political pressures brought to bear on Hollywood production and consumption.

In the module’s second half, through the study of specific texts, the history of the American television industry, and detailed discussion of critical approaches, you will receive an introduction to US TV’s visual styles and aesthetic strategies, its institutional and ideological histories, from its inception to the decline of the major networks in the 1980s. Thus, you will examine the formal and aesthetic properties of production, the contexts of consumption and criticism, and the relationship of genres to issues such as race, class, and gender.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 5AM500

Audible Republic: American Music and Society

This module examines American popular music in context. The module seeks to assess the extent to which popular music, as cultural practice, has reflected, commented upon, and helped shape US culture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

American popular music will be evaluated as an articulation of emotions, activism, disruption, discord, optimism, and potential liberation for performers and audiences alike. However, whilst popular music can function as a vital expressive medium for diverse, often politically and economically disadvantaged groups, the paradoxes which inevitably arise from its mass cultural status will also receive careful consideration.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 5AM502

American Youth Cinema

This module examines how youth has been represented in American cinema, using a range of cinematic texts from the 1950s onwards to the present day. It will consider to what extent ‘youth films’ are an established genre with formal characteristics and styles or whether they are a hybrid cinematic form that crosses generic boundaries. It will raise key questions about the significance of youth within American culture and relate these issues to the different ways in which American film has sought to project, contain, analyse and celebrate youth cultures.

These ideas will be examined in close relation to notions of formula, markets and audience. In particular, the module will examine how early representations of youth established frameworks and discourses that have been both influential in later films and provided powerful images and forms against which other films have constructed alternative youth identities and variant cinematic styles.

The module will consider such (indicative) themes as rebellion and conformity, the construction of gendered and sexual identity, race and ethnicity, relationships of power between youth and authority (family, school, police etc.), youth ‘branding’ and formulaic film.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 5AM503

The American West

In this module you will examines the American West from a variety of disciplinary perspectives using literature, art, film and cultural history to raise and analyse a number of key questions about the development of the idea of the West in the American experience and see how its various myths and representations have played a significant part in national identity.

Emphasis will be placed on the topics and themes such as environmentalism, Native American cultural identity, cowboy mythologies, literary representation through novels and stories, gender, urbanism, and tourism. The module will examine the so-called ‘New’ West as an important presence in contemporary American culture. Assessment will be by coursework only.

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20 Credits

Code: 5AM509

From Civil Rights to Hip Hop: African-American Lives

This module investigates significant aspects of the African-American experience in the United States since the 1950's through an examination of key historical contexts, political movements, and their expression through social, cultural, and aesthetic changes.

The module will examine the origins and growth of the Civil Rights Movement and Black Nationalism as key elements within the development of African American cultural identity to the present day.

It considers the different ways in which African-Americans have expressed and reflected upon these cultural experiences in fiction, autobiography, film, and music. Together these approaches will enable you to view African-American culture from an interdisciplinary perspective, interconnecting the contexts and texts to form a fuller picture of the vital debates still relevant in the USA today. Assessment is by coursework only.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 5HY506

Research Project

This module will enable you to develop your research skills. It will provide an advanced understanding of research methodology. The Project will provide experience in the construction of an extended piece of academic writing, whilst enhancing your ability to bring critical judgement to bear on a range of sources and texts. It will give instruction in research methods. The module will prepare you for the greater emphasis on independent learning at level 6.
20 Credits

Code: 5MR511

Work Based Learning in Media and Cultural Industries

This module is designed to enable you to gain, and reflect upon, experience that contributes to your employability and understanding of working in the media, cultural and creative industries and related careers.
20 Credits

Code: 6AM501

New Hollywood and Beyond

This module will investigate issues in contemporary American cinema, where “contemporary” is interpreted as films made after the Vietnam War and the emergence of the “New Hollywood.” Centrally, the module will be concerned with how its status as a commodity impacts upon film form and content. We will examine trends in American cinema that have realigned the relationships between films and their audiences and how these changing relations have affected both production and consumption.

Although aware of and examining the presence of Hollywood’s global corporate power and its control over film making and distribution, the module will also pay attention to the diversity of film-making, and the need to appeal to multiple audiences in terms of race, class, gender and other factors. Thus concepts central to Film Studies such as auteur theory, genre, stardom, the roles of independent cinema, and institutions will all be explored as they persist and change within contemporary film cultures.

Films will be examined as ideological texts that function as part of the wider social (and global) order that produces and consumes them, and that relate to and clearly dialogue with the political, economic, social and cultural forces from which they emerge.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 6AM503

Culture and Counter-Culture

In this module, you will examine some of the ways in which post-World War II America was an era of transition between an official culture and various opposing, counter-cultural voices. The module will examine a series of questions and debates around issues of power, ideology, representation, subjectivity, race, and gender that emerged during these crucial years.

Drawing on materials from literature, film and visual culture as well as cultural and social history, the module will explore and analyse topics such as the liberal consensus, post-war conservatism, and suburbia alongside the development of oppositional voices such as the Beats, the Civil Rights Movement, African American cultural resurgence, feminism, the New Left and other counter-cultural movements and forces.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 6HY505

Keeping The Peace? Conflict, Power, and Diplomacy Since 1945

This module will deal with some of the most momentous events in International Relations from the Cold War to the twenty-first century. It will begin with an examination of the Cold War, its origins and course.

You will then analyse to what extent the security environment of the 1990s and 2000s was drastically different from that of the Cold War, studying how the East-West conflict has given way both to smaller regional conflicts, for instance in the Middle East, and to a North-South conflict between supposedly developed and developing states. Attention will also be paid to global security challenges, such as terrorism, and contemporary debates about the nature of war and peace.

You will think critically about the mechanics of international relations, assessing the relative importance of nation-states, international organizations and non-state actors. The module will be assessed by a group presentation and an essay.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 6PM501

Children of the Revolution: Popular Music in the Long Seventies

Transatlantic in focus and interdisciplinary in approach, this module demonstrates how cultural identity, historical change, geographical location, and political processes influence how music is produced, distributed and consumed in the “long” 1970s – i.e. 1968 to 1982. Sandwiched between the supposedly more creative, liberal, liberating and liberated ‘60s and the conservative, neo-liberal reformation of the ‘80s, the ‘70s are frequently dismissed as a time of cultural, political and economic stagnation. The module will seek to examine the extent to which this still widely-held representation of the era holds true.

The long Seventies was marked by crises and ferment, as demands for equality collided with social conservatism. It was a transformative period which witnessed the erosion of consensus, widespread popular protest and shifting cultural norms. As Shelton Waldrep notes, “the unstable nature of the Seventies [..] – its very ambiguity – provides the period with its generative and disruptive influences.” In many ways, then, these were more turbulent and tumultuous times than those experienced in the more fabled Sixties. This is arguably reflected in the sheer variety of always vibrant, often conflictual popular music styles and movements that emerged – the study of which allows us to explore key political, social and cultural debates and developments. Assessment is by seminar presentation/participation and extended essay.

More information
20 Credits

Please note that our modules are subject to change - we review the content of our courses regularly, making changes where necessary to improve your experience and graduate prospects.

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How you will learn

Equipped with analytical and critical skills, you will gain an in-depth knowledge of key historical debates, cultural theories, political ideas, and artistic works as these relate to an American context.

You will learn and practise technical skills, honing your abilities in research, writing and argumentation. This will be achieved through lectures, seminars, individual and group presentations, workshops, screenings and guest lectures. Study visits will be an important part of your learning experience: just one recent example was a tour of the Transmitting Warhol exhibition at Tate Liverpool.


Assessment is 100% on coursework, incorporating different tasks and modes such as essays of varied length, scale and scope; document analyses; book, film and music reviews; project and dissertation work; individual and group oral presentations; and seminar participation.

Supporting you all the way

We pride ourselves on being approachable and supportive. You'll have a personal tutor to help and advise you throughout your degree, providing an exceptional level of support. Workshops on issues such as writing and study skills, preparatory sessions for project-based study, and employability events will also assist your progress.

Who you will meet

American Studies at Derby is taught by a highly qualified and experienced team of lecturers. They are committed to the subject as an interdisciplinary exploration of American culture in its broadest sense, but all have individual areas of expertise, research and publication.

Simon Philo - Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader. His research interests include American rock music and art in the 1960s, the cultural Vietnam War, and American TV. Simon has published chapters and journal articles on The Simpsons, MTV in Europe, US TV teen dramas, Vietnam War literature, Pop Art, punk, ska and the Rolling Stones. He is the author of British Invasion: The Crosscurrents of Musical Influence (2014).

Dr David Holloway - Senior Lecturer and Exchange Co-ordinator. His research interests include 19th and 20th Century American literature and film, narratives of apocalypse in American culture, and the “War on Terror”. He has published a number of articles on the novelist Cormac McCarthy and has written a chapter on the literature of youth in Radiant Hour (2000). His book on Cormac McCarthy was published in 2002 and 9/11 and the War on Terror was published in 2008. He is also the co-editor of American Visual Cultures (2005).

Joanne Bishton - Lecturer in American Studies. Jo’s research expertise is in the field of 19th and 20th Century American and comparative literatures, adaptation, the historical novel, gendered narratives and sexuality. She has published on lesbian historical fiction and has forthcoming publications on gendered narrative voices, erotic adaptations and popularising lesbian narratives.

Alasdair Kean - Principal Lecturer in American Studies. His areas of research include 19th Century Social History, US popular culture abroad and American music. Alasdair is co-author of American Cultural Studies (1997).

Personal academic tutoring

Your personal academic tutor will work with you to help you get the most out of your time at university. Having someone to talk to about your academic progress, your university experience and your professional aspirations is hugely valuable. We want you to feel challenged in your studies, stretched but confident to achieve your academic and professional goals.

Find out more about personal academic tutoring

Who will teach you

Simon Philo

Simon Philo
Programme leader

Simon is Programme Leader for BA Liberal Arts; and Subject Leader for American Studies and Popular Music in Society.

View full staff profileView full staff profile

Entry requirements

September 2019 typical entry requirements

RequirementWhat we're looking for
UCAS points112* (up to 16 from AS-levels)
Specific requirements at A-level

No specific subject requirements

Specific requirements at GCSEGCSE Maths and English Grade C/Grade 4 (or above) or equivalent qualification
Interview / AuditionN/A

Alternative entry qualifications:

For joint honours degree entry you will need to choose two subjects. The entry criteria here is for this subject only. Your offer will be based on the higher entry criteria from the two subjects you choose to do. A good application/performance will be taken into account if you do not meet the criteria/offer conditions.

*The UCAS Points required for entry will depend on the subjects you choose to combine. The subject with the higher entry requirements will determine your offer.

Our entry requirements for this course should be read together with the University's general entry requirements, which details subjects we accept, alternative qualifications and what we're looking for at Derby.

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Academic Achievement Scholarship

We’re offering eligible students a £1,000 scholarship to celebrate your hard work and success.

Learn more about the Academic Achievement ScholarshipLearn more about the Academic Achievement Scholarship

Fees and funding

2020/21 Fees


£9,250 per year*

£1,155 per module*


£14,045 per year


* The fees stated above are for the 2019/20 academic year; fees for 2020/21 have not yet been confirmed by the UK government. We will update this information as soon as it is available.

Further information about our fees and support you may be entitled to.

Additional costs and optional extras

How to apply

UK/EU students

Full-time students applying to start in September should apply for this course through UCAS or you can apply directly to the University for an undergraduate course if you’re not applying to any other UK university in the same year.

Part-time students should apply directly to the University.

Apply through UCASApply directly to the University

Guidance for EU students post-Brexit

International students

Full-time students applying to start in September should apply for this course through UCAS or you can apply directly to the University for an undergraduate course if you’re not applying to any other UK university in the same year.

Apply through UCASApply directly to the University

Guidance for international applicants applying for an undergraduate degree


As an American Studies graduate, you could pursue a career in many different areas, including teaching, journalism, media, advertising, marketing, law, the civil service, retail management and the uniformed services.

Skills for success

Your degree will help set you apart as an independent and confident individual who can view the world from different perspectives. Your experience of studying abroad, for instance, will signal to any prospective employer that you have maturity, adaptability and organisational skills. As the business world becomes increasingly global, these are impressive qualities which will help you secure a rewarding career.

Ensuring you’re ‘work-ready’

Our Careers and Employment Service will provide you with support from day one of your course to ensure that you leave Derby as a ‘work-ready’ graduate - industry aware, motivated and enterprising. Throughout your studies, you will also benefit from our Personal Development Planning (PDP) scheme which enables you to reflect on your learning and develop your career ambitions. The support continues once you’ve completed your course too: you are entitled to further help and guidance from the Careers and Employment Service for up to three years after leaving the University.

Contact us

Simon Philo +44 (0)1332 591482

If you need any more information from us, eg on courses, accommodation, applying, car parking, fees or funding, please contact us and we will do everything we can to help you.

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Additional information about your studies

You will typically study your two subjects equally at stage one, before choosing whether you want to major in one subject at stages two and three.

Download programme specification

Teaching hours

Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the University of Derby, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.

Additional costs and optional extras

We’re committed to providing you with an outstanding learning experience. Our expert teaching, excellent facilities and great employability prepare you for your future career. As part of our commitment to you we aim to keep any additional study costs to a minimum. However, there are occasions where students may incur some additional costs.

Included in your fees

Mandatory costs not included in your fees

Optional costs not included in your fees

Please note: Our courses are refreshed and updated on a regular basis. If you are thinking about transferring onto this course (into the second year for example), you should contact the programme leader for the relevant course information as modules may vary from those shown on this page.

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American Studies can be combined with:

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