American Studies

American Studies (Literature) - BA (Hons)

UCAS code T700

2019

Discover America thorough the close study of its literature. Explore writing from the Romantic period to the present day; immerse yourself in the work of the avant-garde writers of the 20th century; and uncover genres such as American crime fiction. And ask, how will America write the 21st century?

2019

Overview

American Studies at Kent dates back to 1973. You are based in the Centre for American Studies and taught by internationally recognised academics. 

American Studies is an interdisciplinary degree, which means that you learn by making connections between ideas and concepts across different disciplinary boundaries, which enriches your learning and gives you a wider perspective on your subject. Although your main focus is on literature, you can also take modules that discuss American history, politics and film.

Our degree programme

In your first year, you take an introductory module in American studies and two literature modules focusing on Romanticism and the connections between literature and culture in the US.

In your second year, you examine key themes in American culture and study topics such as 19th-century American literature. You can also take modules on American cinema, the American West in the 19th century and the American Civil War.

In your final year, you complete an extended essay taking an interdisciplinary approach to your topic. You also have a wide range of literature modules to choose from covering areas such as Native American literature and the New York avant-garde. You can also take modules in history (the American revolution, and the history of California) or look at the work of Cuban writers and artists since the revolution.

Year abroad

You spend a year between your second and final years at one of our partner universities in the US or Canada. Current destinations include:

  • California
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New York State
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Wisconsin.

And in Canada:

  • Calgary
  • Ontario
  • Ottawa.

We also offer four-year programmes where you focus on American history American Studies (History) or Latin America American Studies (Latin America)

In addition, you can choose to take a three-year programme where there is an option to spend a term abroad. For details, see American Studies.

Independent rankings

American Studies at Kent was ranked 4th in The Times Good University Guide 2018 and 11th in The Guardian University Guide 2018.

For research quality, American Studies at Kent was ranked 3rd in The Times Good University Guide 2018 and 8th in The Complete University Guide 2018.

In the National Student Survey 2017, 100% of final-year American Studies students were satisfied with the overall quality of their course. American Studies at Kent was ranked 1st for overall satisfaction.

Teaching Excellence Framework

Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.

Please see the University of Kent's Statement of Findings for more information.

TEF Gold logo

Course structure

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  

On most programmes, you study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also be able to take ‘wild’ modules from other programmes so you can customise your programme and explore other subjects that interest you.

Stage 1

Modules may include Credits

This module provides students with an understanding of the American experience in a critical and academic fashion. Emphasis throughout the module is interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary thought, which is central to American Studies as an academic discipline. A wide range of approaches are taken to further students understanding of American life through different theories, pathways and academic criticism. This module establishes a firm base from which American Studies students can proceed to Stage II modules, while also providing students from other degree programs with a good understanding of the United States and the American Studies discipline. The module also includes study sessions to further students' academic skill sets.

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Literary Forms aims to introduce students to the major forms of literature: poetry, prose and drama, with a core emphasis on innovation. Students will examine the formal structures and generic features of these major forms and, through studying specific examples, observe how these forms change over time and in response to changes in authorship, literary production, and audience/readership. Embedded in this module will also be the development of writing and research skills that will equip students to manage successfully the transition from A-level to university study in the field of English and American Literature.

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The module introduces students to the empirical study of the key structures, institutions and processes in political life. It does so through the lens of the comparative method, in which political systems are compared and contrasted to test hypotheses about the factors producing similarities and differences across countries and over time. The module first introduces the comparative method, and then discusses the different ways in which political systems can be organized and classified. It focuses on the three key powers in all political systems – executive, legislative and judicial – the ‘intermediate’ actors that link people to their governments, namely political parties, interest groups and the media, and how citizens behave politically in relations to such institutions and actors. Throughout the module, students are encouraged to identify the factors and the processes leading to different political outcomes across states and over time and to use both qualitative and quantitative data to support their arguments.

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Critical theory and theoretical approaches to the interpretation of literary texts have become increasingly fundamental to English Studies, while also offering a number of rich and complex ways of reading and understanding society and culture more generally. In this course, we will introduce you to some key theoretical readings in five broad areas: feminism, psychoanalysis, Marxism, Post-Colonialism and Race, and Sexualities. Through these readings, we will invite you to make connections between theoretical approaches and to think about how they might inform your reading practices on this and other courses. The aim of this work is to help you to understand the significance and usefulness of theory on its own terms, as well as giving you a coherent grounding in the ways theoretical concepts help us to approach and understand literary and other texts. Through this, you will develop a sophisticated understanding of the dynamic relationship between theory and culture, literature and politics.

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The module begins from the premise that it is possible to 'read' objects and phenomena from everyday life as texts: they communicate meaning to us; they are open to different interpretations; and they represent aspects of the world we inhabit. This module will introduce students to how ways of ‘reading’ the everyday emerged as a scholarly pursuit from the mid-twentieth century, first in France and then beyond. It will also consider how literary texts represent everyday life, through the study of examples in a variety of forms, including poetry and fiction. Through both theory and practice, including regular creative exercises, students will learn how to both ‘read’ and ‘write’ aspects of contemporary everyday life and to analyse representations of everyday life in texts. The module will consider the forms available to the creative writer as a means of engaging with and representing contemporary everyday life, and introduce students to basic Creative Writing techniques, practices and strategies, such as journaling, workshopping, and redrafting.

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The course introduces students to the language of film, from aspects of mise-en-scène (setting, performance, costumes, props, lighting, frame composition) to framing (camera movement, shot scale, lenses), sound (fidelity, volume, timbre) and editing (from requirements for spatial orientation through matches on action, eyeline matches and shot-reverse-shot structures to temporal manipulations through ellipsis and montage). The study of these elements enables students to understand the spatial and temporal construction of films, as well as the stylistic, expressive and/or dramatic functions of specific strategies

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The module studies the emergence and consolidation of the studio system in Hollywood, between the coming of sound in 1929 until the collapse of the studios in 1960. Indicative topics include the rise of the star system; the emergence of genres; self-regulation and censorship; developments in technology; and changes in audience. Examination will be made of the development of the 'classic Hollywood cinema' style of film against the backdrop of varying contexts of production, distribution, exhibition and regulation. A focus on genres (such as the gangster film, western and musical) in their various phases of development and permutation will be a lens for student understanding of the importance of standardization. Studio development and collapse are also seen in broader historical and political contexts, enabling students to appreciate the forces that motivated film production, distribution and exhibition during the period.

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This module approaches the "big questions" that have surrounded film and the moving image and puts them into historical context. Although specific topics will vary, representative topics may address competing definitions of film and its constitutive elements, the effects that cinema has on spectators, the social, cultural and political implications that moving images reproduce, and the status of the medium between art and entertainment. Students will debate seminal writings on the nature of film and bring their arguments to bear on exemplary film productions.

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This course examines film history and historiography through a series of case studies. In carrying out this investigation students will be invited to work with secondary and primary sources held in the library and will be encouraged to evaluate the aesthetic, technological, economic, social and political histories presented in this module. Students will understand the role and value of the contextual study of film and will be given the opportunity to research and write on selected aspects of film historiography. The choice of case studies will depend upon the expertise of the module convenor and is not restricted to a particular national cinema or period; case studies may include, for instance, the history of film by means of the study of a particular theme and cultural context in the history of film.

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This module examines a wide range of contemporary forms of art and artistic practice, and articulates some key distinctions useful for addressing the question of the place of art in culture. These include a discussion of ideas of the avant-garde, of modernity, and postmodernism. It pursues general themes and case studies of particularly controversial art objects, and investigates the different means by which our notions of art and of the artist are 'framed' today.

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This module examines a wide range of contemporary forms of art and artistic practice, and articulates some key distinctions useful for addressing the question of the place of art in culture. These include a discussion of ideas of the avant-garde, of modernity, and postmodernism. It pursues general themes and case studies of particularly controversial art objects, and investigates the different means by which our notions of art and of the artist are 'framed' today.

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This module provides students with a broad introduction to the history of photography over the first 150 years of its existence, together with some of the prehistory of the medium. It begins by looking at the origins and invention of photography, as well as reactions to, and early uses of, the medium. Following this background, a number of photographic genre are explored along with key contributors to their development. While the genre explored may change from year to year, the genre covered are likely to include portraiture, documentary photography and landscape photography, but the greatest focus will be given to the various styles and movements giving shape to the history of photographic art.

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This module provides students with a broad introduction to the history of photography over the first 150 years of its existence, together with some of the prehistory of the medium. It begins by looking at the origins and invention of photography, as well as reactions to, and early uses of, the medium. Following this background, a number of photographic genre are explored along with key contributors to their development. While the genre explored may change from year to year, the genre covered are likely to include portraiture, documentary photography and landscape photography, but the greatest focus will be given to the various styles and movements giving shape to the history of photographic art.

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The module is intended as an introduction to the History of Art, as a body of visual artefacts and as an academic discipline. It is intended to be accessible to those with little or no previous experience, but also stimulating and informative to students with more background knowledge. The approach is chronological, focusing on a sequence of so termed 'canonical' works of art produced within the Western tradition. Such works provide a frame for introducing students to many of the basic analytical concepts and terms routinely deployed by art historians in describing, analysing and interpreting works of art: period, style, iconography, meaning, material/medium, technique, composition, creative process, representation, tradition, social function, patronage, genre etc.

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The module is intended as an introduction to the History of Art, as a body of visual artefacts and as an academic discipline. It is intended to be accessible to those with little or no previous experience, but also stimulating and informative to students with more background knowledge. The approach is chronological, focusing on a sequence of so termed 'canonical' works of art produced within the Western tradition. Such works provide a frame for introducing students to many of the basic analytical concepts and terms routinely deployed by art historians in describing, analysing and interpreting works of art: period, style, iconography, meaning, material/medium, technique, composition, creative process, representation, tradition, social function, patronage, genre etc

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This course aims to provide students with an introduction to aesthetics and the philosophy of art. The first part of the course focuses on some of the major texts in the history of the philosophy of art in the western tradition (e.g., Plato's Republic, Aristotle’s Poetics, Hume’s Of the Standard of Taste and Kant’s Critique of Judgement). The second part of the course focuses on central contemporary debates in the philosophy of art (e.g., What is Art? Artistic and Aesthetic Evaluation and the problem of forgery, Intention and Interpretation, Ethical criticism of art, Art and Emotion, Art and Feminism.) The student will be encouraged to see connections between the two parts of the module and to understand how contemporary debates (both philosophical and those found in the public opinion and art criticism) can be traced back to or even helpfully illuminated by old and contemporary philosophical debates.

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This course aims to provide students with an introduction to aesthetics and the philosophy of art. The first part of the course focuses on some of the major texts in the history of the philosophy of art in the western tradition (e.g., Plato's Republic, Aristotle’s Poetics, Hume’s Of the Standard of Taste and Kant’s Critique of Judgement). The second part of the course focuses on central contemporary debates in the philosophy of art (e.g., What is Art? Artistic and Aesthetic Evaluation and the problem of forgery, Intention and Interpretation, Ethical criticism of art, Art and Emotion, Art and Feminism.) The student will be encouraged to see connections between the two parts of the module and to understand how contemporary debates (both philosophical and those found in the public opinion and art criticism) can be traced back to or even helpfully illuminated by old and contemporary philosophical debates.

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The module will focus primarily on the period from the 18th century onwards but will begin with an outline treatment of the British colonies in North America from initial European settlement. Interactions between Native American, African, African-American and European populations will be emphasised in the colonial period. Thereafter the module is pursued via the first anti-colonial revolution in modern history and the creation of a new nation and concludes with the reconstitution of the nation after a bloody civil war and on the eve of large-scale industrialisation.

Themes include the causes and consequences of the Revolution, the new political system, the development of mass democracy, economic development and territorial expansion into the West, reform movements, sectional conflict between North and South, slavery, the Civil War and the re-establishment of a national order during Reconstruction.

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The module will introduce the students to the history of the U.S during its dramatic rise to industrial and international power. Beginning with the transformation of the U.S into an urban industrial civilisation at the end of the 19th Century, it ends with a review of the American position at the beginning of the 21st century.

Themes include early 20th century reform, the rise to world power by 1918, prosperity and the Depression, the New Deal, war and Cold War, race relations, Vietnam, supposed decline and resurgence from Nixon to Reagan, the end of the Cold War, and the Clinton Administration.

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This module has two aims:

1) to contribute towards equipping the students with the necessary practical and intellectual skills for them to think and write as historians at an undergraduate level;

2) to encourage them to think reflectively and critically about the nature of the historical discipline, its epistemological claims, and why we, as historians, do what we do in the way we do it. This will be achieved through four blocks of seminars and lectures.

These will cover:

• The practice of history, introducing history at university level at both a practical and conceptual level.

• Historical methodology. This will cover the development of university history in the nineteenth century and how this differed from the study and writing of history that had gone before. It will also consider the impact of the Social Sciences on the historical profession during the twentieth century.

• The varieties of history. This will examine some of the major themes and approaches, such as Marxism or nationalism, in modern historical scholarship.

• Beyond history. The final block will consider the ‘linguistic turn’ and new ways of studying and writing history in the twenty-first century.

A fifth component, concentrated in the first three or four weeks of the module, will provide training in core, practical skills (library and bibliographic skills, IT skills and the use of MyFolio and PDP).

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You have the opportunity to select wild modules in this stage

Stage 2

Modules may include Credits

When the Long Island-born poet Walt Whitman proclaimed in 1855 that the “United States” were history’s “greatest poem” he made an important connection between national political culture and literary expression. In some ways this was no exaggeration. As a new experiment in politics and culture, the United States had to be literally written into existence. Beginning with Thomas Jefferson’s dramatic Declaration of Independence in 1776, followed by the drafting of the Constitution after the Revolutionary War with Britain, the project of shaping the new United States in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was essentially a literary one.

In this module we will explore how American writers in this period tried in numerous, diverse ways to locate an original literary voice through which to express their newfound independence. At the same time, the module includes the work of writers who had legitimate grievances against the developing character of a new nation that still saw fit to cling to such “Old World” traditions as racialized slavery, class conflict and gender inequality.

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This module will focus upon the historical and cultural reputations of a number of important figures and concepts in American Studies, from Columbian encounter to the twenty-first century. As well as locating these figures (or alternative subjects such as places or ideas) in the context of their own times, the module will also assess the subsequent significance and meaning attached to their lives through the differing interpretations of scholars, writers, artists, filmmakers and the public. The module's focus is on the construction of reputations, using individual subjects as a prism for isolating distinctive moments in the evolution of American identities and discourses. It will deploy a variety of documentary sources, visual representations (including artwork and film), and electronic resources to convey a sense of past individual, national and cultural identities. It will expose tensions between regional, national, and transnational understandings of reputation, and the subjects match up with themes explored in EN303.

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This module aims to introduce students to a wide range of contemporary literature written in English, where 'contemporary' is taken to refer to twenty-first century work. It will equip students with critical ideas and theoretical concepts that will help them to understand the literature of their own time. Students will consider examples of a range of genres: poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction and the essay. They will also be selectively introduced to key ideas in contemporary theory and philosophy. Over the course of the module, students will be encouraged to read texts in a number of contexts. They will consider writers' responses to, for instance, questions of migration, environmental change, and financial crisis. They will also consider a range of aesthetic developments and departures, for example: new conceptualism and the claim to unoriginality; archival poetics; the turn to creative non-fiction; the re-emergence of the political essay. The module will not focus on a given national context. Instead it will set contemporary writing against the background of identifiably international issues and concerns. In so doing it will draw attention to non-national publishing strategies and audiences. Overall, the module will aim to show how writers are responding to the present period, how their work illuminates and reflects current cultural concerns. The weekly topics will address both thematic and formal concerns.

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This course will introduce students to the field of postcolonial literature, focusing on the period from the late nineteenth century to the present day. The module will be divided into three consecutive areas: empire and colonisation (three weeks); liberation movements and the processes of decolonisation (either three or four weeks); and migration and diaspora (either three or four weeks). Centred primarily on canonical British colonial texts, the first part of the course may also involve comparison with other less familiar texts and contexts, such as those of Zionist nationalism and settler colonialism, or more popular twentieth-century imperial fantasy and adventure genres. The texts in the second part of the module will be drawn primarily from Africa, the Carribean, the Middle East, and South Asia. The intention is to allow students to bring these disparate regions and texts into a productive dialogue with each other by reflecting on their shared history of decolonisation and their common engagement with colonial and liberation discourses. The course further aims to sketch a narrative of empire and decolonisation that is in part relevant to contemporary postcolonial Britain, to which the final section on migration and diaspora then returns. Some brief extracts from theoretical material on colonial discourse analysis, decolonisation, postcoloniality and migration will be considered alongside a single primary text each week. Students will be introduced to key ideas from the work of (among others) Edward Said, Frantz Fanon, Homi Bhabha, Stuart Hall and Gayatri Spivak. Together with a broad primary textual arc stretching from the British empire to postcolonial Britain, the course will thus give students a cohesive intellectual narrative with which to explore changing conceptions of culture, history, and postcolonial identity across the modern world.

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This module is a study of twentieth-century American literature and culture organized conceptually around the idea of modernity. Students will explore the interconnections between modernity in the United States and the literary and philosophical ideas that shaped it (and were shaped by it) from the start of the century to its close. At the core of the module will be a necessary focus on two versions of American modernity, broadly represented by New York and Los Angeles respectively. Novels, works of art and critical texts will be read alongside one another to explore how these major regional hubs of aesthetic and cultural output developed competing conceptions of "modernity", “American culture” and the place of “the urban” in twentieth-century life, with important effects on contemporary perceptions of the USA. Moving beyond a sense of “modernism” as simply an aesthetic challenge to nineteenth-century modes of romanticism and realism, to consider the embeddedness of “modernist” literature within the particularities of its cultural and historical moment, students will be asked to develop a more nuanced approach to critical reading that pays close attention to the role of differing conceptions of modernity in the USA. The rise of mass culture, the L.A. film industry, the importance of Harlem to the history of race, the role of the intellectual, the urban challenges of the automobile, the birth of the modern American magazine, and questions of conservation and “creative destruction” in cities will all be considered through readings of key novels and critical texts from what Time Magazine editor Henry Luce famously called “The American Century”.

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You have the opportunity to select wild modules in this stage

Year abroad

Going abroad as part of your degree is an amazing experience and a chance to develop personally, academically and professionally.  You experience a different culture, gain a new academic perspective, establish international contacts and enhance your employability.

You spend a year between Stages 2 and 3 at one of our partner universities in the US taking specialist courses. American Studies students spending a year in the US do not have to pay American universities’ (often high) tuition fees. For a full list, please see Go Abroad. Places are subject to availability, language and degree programme.

You are expected to adhere to any academic progression requirements in Stages 1 and 2 to proceed to the year abroad.  If the requirement is not met, you are transferred to the equivalent three-year programme. The year abroad is assessed on a pass/fail basis and does not count towards your final degree classification.

Modules may include Credits

Stage 3

Modules may include Credits

This module is aimed at all students who have, throughout their first two or three years at Kent, developed academic interests in specific areas or case studies, that may, or may not, have been covered by the range of module options offered by the Centre. In the final year some of you have had the benefit of a semester/year's education in the United States or Canada. You will now be in a position to weave together the different disciplines that make up American Studies. The project must be clearly distinct from work submitted for previous modules. Students will be expected to demonstrate a wide-ranging knowledge of the chosen topic and to situate their own argument in relation to relevant critical debates.

The Extended Essay module is a 'self-study’ research-based module in which all students work independently on a research question based on primary source materials and under the supervision of a staff member in the Centre for American Studies. It is conceived as a specialist and in-depth piece of documentary work, which will culminate in a scholarly dissertation and is not tethered to a taught module.

Students will be expected to identify a cogent research question and assemble relevant materials for consultation, interrogate a range of sources and produce an extended piece of work (7,000 words of text, excluding footnotes, bibliography and appendices) that is grounded in interpretative analysis and based on primary research. Furthermore, the emphasis is on a multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary approach. You should bring together at least 2 different methodologies which focus on your chosen topic.

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This module offers students a synoptic perspective on Marxist cultural criticism from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day in Europe, Russia and North America. It begins with an analysis of a selection from Marx’s own writings, with the aim of introducing key terms, such as “alienation,” “ideology,” and “dialectic.” Students’ understanding of these terms and their critical uses for literary and cultural studies will develop during the course of the module, as they encounter a range of important Marxist thinkers and their writings.

Throughout the module students will be invited to interrogate and transgress the boundaries separating literary from critical texts, and theory from practice. They will be invited to consider creative practice and Marxist criticism in dialogue with one another at particular historical moments. Although anchored in the literary and the textual, the module will also offer opportunities to think critically about the term “culture” itself in its broadest senses, encompassing a range of aesthetic and social practices, such as sport and music. Progressing through the great class conflicts of the early twentieth century, the Frankfurt School, New Left and anti-racist decolonization movements of the postwar period, up to the contemporary neoliberal moment, the module aims finally to offer students a set of tools with which to understand their own cultural encounters in the present as well as to reconfigure and re-evaluate the cultural knowledge they have accumulated in stages one and two of their degree programmes.

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This module will bring together works of poetry and fiction by a number of black writers in the USA and Canada in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. With a particular emphasis on migration, music, and urban space, we will explore the intellectual, political, and aesthetic imperatives that drive these writers to address questions of race, ethnicity, gender, belonging, representation, poverty, privilege, and trauma.

Beginning in Harlem in the 1920s, the moment when “the Negro was in vogue”, students will examine the ways in which black Americans and Canadians have sought to make their impact on the literary landscape, by turns exposing and employing the power structures of the dominant culture. This comparative look at US and Canadian literatures, however, also challenges students to scrutinize the construction of literary and other categories, and to consider the commonality and distinctive difference between black experience north and south of the 49th parallel.

Lectures/workshops will emphasise discussion of key moments and movements in African American / African Canadian arts; the significance of linguistic distinctiveness; the cultural self-categorisation of black, African American, Africadian and Halfrican identities; and the rise of African American literary theory.

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The module is structured around poetry and fiction produced in New York since the Second World War. The emphasis is on New York's experimental and avant-garde traditions, and one organising principle is the inter-connectedness of the arts in New York. The module introduces students to some of the main areas of culture in the city, from the New York school of poetry through Abstract Expressionism, early Punk and on to post-modern fiction. Writers to be studied will include John Cage, Barbara Guest, William Burroughs, John Ashbery and Patti Smith.

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Themes covered will include: Nursing and hygiene in the Crimea; the impact of disease in the South African War; military hospitals; the impact of war on mental health; inspecting and measuring the military body; venereal disease in the First and Second World Wars; technology; ethics and experimentation; malingering, agency and resistance in the two World Wars; disability and the long term impact of war.

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Teaching and assessment

Stage 1 modules are usually taught by lectures and seminars. Stage 2/3 modules are taught either by lectures and seminars, or by seminars alone. You usually have around ten hours of contact with staff each week.

Depending on the modules you select, assessment varies from 100% coursework (extended essays or dissertation), to a combination of examination and coursework, usually in the ratio 50:50, 60:40 or 80:20.

Programme aims

The programme aims to:

  • develop an understanding of the culture and history of the United States
  • provide a flexible, structured, degree with the opportunity to study abroad
  • provide teaching informed by research and scholarship
  • build on close ties within Europe with the United States through its year abroad of study
  • produce graduates in possession of key skills, develop their capacity to learn, to be prepared for employment or further study
  • provide learning opportunities that are enjoyable experiences, involve realistic workloads within a research-led framework and offer appropriate support for students from a diverse range of backgrounds
  • encourage students to identify and develop their own interests and expertise in fields of the humanities
  • develop students’ abilities in independent critical thinking and judgement
  • introduce students to Area Studies, in an era of globalisation and multiculturalism.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • a wide range of American authors, across the 19th and 20th centuries
  • traditions in literary criticism
  • the study of literature in relation to other disciplines
  • the inter-connections between American literature and a broader cultural-historical context
  • the broader patterns of US history
  • terminology used in literary criticism
  • the key motifs and themes in US literary history
  • the similarities and differences between areas, thus fostering cross-cultural and international perspectives.

Intellectual skills

You gain the following intellectual abilities:

  • application of the skills needed for academic study and enquiry
  • how to evaluate research findings
  • the ability to synthesise information from a number of sources to gain a coherent understanding of critical theory and general methodology
  • the ability to discriminate and select relevant information from a wide source and large body of knowledge
  • exercise problem-solving skills.

Subject-specific skills

You gain specific skills in the following:

  • the ability to perform close critical analysis of literary texts
  • informed understanding of critical and theoretical approaches to the study of literature
  • the ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts and theories relating to literary studies
  • sensitivity to generic conventions in the study of literature
  • appropriate scholarly practice in the presentation of formal written work
  • the ability to understand a multidisciplinary academic subject, with its array of literature, history and other discourses
  • the ability to combine various academic discourses such as literature and history to forge an interdisciplinary understanding
  • the ability to construct an independent, research-led argument.

Transferable skills

You gain transferable skills in the following:

  • communication: organise information clearly, respond to written sources and present information orally, adapt style for different audiences and the use of images as a communication tool
  • the ability to assimilate and organise substantial quantities of complex information
  • IT skills: produce written documents, undertake online research and process information using databases
  • how to work co-operatively on group tasks and understand how groups function
  • improving your own learning, explore personal strengths and weaknesses, time management, develop specialist learning skills and autonomy in learning
  • problem-solving: identify and define problems, explore alternative solutions and discriminate between them.

Careers

Graduate destinations

Our graduates have gone on to work in Britain, Europe and the US in a range of areas including:

  • business and management
  • broadcasting and media
  • teaching.

Many also choose to undertake further professional training.

Help finding a job

The University’s friendly Careers and Employability Service offers advice on how to:

  • apply for jobs
  • write a good CV
  • perform well in interviews.

Career-enhancing skills

Many employers view a graduate with overseas study experience as more employable. Alongside specialist skills, you also develop the transferable skills graduate employers look for, including the ability to:

  • think critically 
  • communicate your ideas and opinions 
  • work independently and as part of a team.

You can also gain extra skills by signing up for one of our Kent Extra activities, such as learning a language or volunteering. 

Independent rankings

For graduate prospects, American Studies at Kent was ranked 8th in The Complete University Guide 2018 and 9th in The Times Good University Guide 2018.

According to Which? University (2017), the average starting salary for graduates of this degree is £18,000.

Entry requirements

Home/EU students

The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice. 

It is not possible to offer places to all students who meet this typical offer/minimum requirement.

New GCSE grades

If you’ve taken exams under the new GCSE grading system, please see our conversion table to convert your GCSE grades.

Qualification Typical offer/minimum requirement
A level

ABB including A level English Literature or English Language and Literature grade B.

Access to HE Diploma

The University will not necessarily make conditional offers to all Access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis. 

If we make you an offer, you will need to obtain/pass the overall Access to Higher Education Diploma and may also be required to obtain a proportion of the total level 3 credits and/or credits in particular subjects at merit grade or above.

BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)

The University will consider applicants holding BTEC National Diploma and Extended National Diploma Qualifications (QCF; NQF; OCR) on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us for further advice on your individual circumstances.

International Baccalaureate

34 points overall or 16 points at HL including 5/6/6 in HL English A1/A2/B.

International students

The University welcomes applications from international students. Our international recruitment team can guide you on entry requirements. See our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country.

If you need to increase your level of qualification ready for undergraduate study, we offer a number of International Foundation Programmes.

Meet our staff in your country

For more advice about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events.

English Language Requirements

Please see our English language entry requirements web page.

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of 'pre-sessional' courses in English for Academic Purposes. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme. 

General entry requirements

Please also see our general entry requirements.

Fees

The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £9250 £15700

For students continuing on this programme, fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* 

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

Fees for Year in Industry

For 2019/20 entrants, the standard year in industry fee for home, EU and international students is £1,385

Fees for Year Abroad

UK, EU and international students on an approved year abroad for the full 2019/20 academic year pay £1,385 for that year. 

Students studying abroad for less than one academic year will pay full fees according to their fee status. 

General additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.

Funding

University funding

Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details. 

Government funding

You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.

Scholarships

General scholarships

Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.

The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence

At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence. 

The scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of AAA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages

The scholarship is also extended to those who achieve AAB at A level (or specified equivalents) where one of the subjects is either Mathematics or a Modern Foreign Language. Please review the eligibility criteria.

The Key Information Set (KIS) data is compiled by UNISTATS and draws from a variety of sources which includes the National Student Survey and the Higher Education Statistical Agency. The data for assessment and contact hours is compiled from the most populous modules (to the total of 120 credits for an academic session) for this particular degree programme. 

Depending on module selection, there may be some variation between the KIS data and an individual's experience. For further information on how the KIS data is compiled please see the UNISTATS website.

If you have any queries about a particular programme, please contact information@kent.ac.uk.