American Studies

American Studies (History) - BA (Hons)

UCAS code T701

This is an archived page and for reference purposes only


Discover America – its past, its present and what its future may hold. Explore America from the 18th century to the modern day, taking in the Civil War, slavery and the civil rights movements. If the 20th century was ‘the American century’, what will America bring to the 21st?


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 history, you can also take modules that discuss American literature, politics and film.

Our degree programme

In your first year, you take an introductory module in American studies and two history modules that take you from the emergence of America to its place in the world today.

In your second year, you examine key themes in American culture and study topics such as civil rights, the American Civil War, the American West in the 19th century and the British Atlantic world from the 16th to the 18th century. You can also take modules on American cinema and 19th-century American literature.

In your final year, you complete an extended essay taking an interdisciplinary approach to your topic. You also have a wide range of history modules to choose from covering the American Revolution, the American West in the 20th century and the history of California. You can also take modules in literature (American crime fiction and Native American Literature) 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 literature American Studies (Literature) 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 2019 and 6th in The Complete University Guide 2019.

In the National Student Survey 2018, over 97% of final-year American Studies students who completed the survey, were satisfied with the teaching on their course.

Teaching Excellence Framework

All University of Kent courses are regulated by the Office for Students.

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.

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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 ‘elective’ modules from other programmes so you can customise your programme and explore other subjects that interest you.

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 of destinations, 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 will be transferred to the equivalent three-year programme. The year abroad is assessed on a pass/fail basis and will not count towards your final degree classification.

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.

Contact Hours

For a student studying full time, each academic year of the programme will comprise 1200 learning hours which include both direct contact hours and private study hours.  The precise breakdown of hours will be subject dependent and will vary according to modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Methods of assessment will vary according to subject specialism and individual modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Programme aims

The programme aims to:

  • develop an understanding of the history, culture and politics of the United States
  • provide a flexible but structured degree, with the opportunity to study abroad
  • provide teaching informed by research and scholarship about the United States
  • build on close ties within Europe with the United States through its year abroad of study
  • produce graduates of value to the region and the nation, in possession of key skills, enabling students to develop their capacity to learn, 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, and develop 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:

  • the history of the US from colonial times to the 20th century
  • historiographical practice
  • the study of history in relation to other disciplines
  • terminology used in historical writing
  • the similarities and differences between areas, thus fostering cross-cultural and international perspectives
  • texts and other source materials, read both critically and empathetically while addressing questions of genre, content, perspective and purpose
  • the problems inherent in the historical record itself, and the limits within which interpretation is possible.

Intellectual skills

You gain the following intellectual abilities:

  • the application of the skills needed for academic study and enquiry
  • 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 close critical analysis of historical documents
  • an informed understanding of critical and theoretical approaches to the study of history
  • the ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts and theories relating to historical studies
  • 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, marked by an interdisciplinary pedagogy.

Transferable skills

You gain transferable skills in the following:

  • communication: how to organise information clearly, respond to written sources, 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
  • knowledge of IT skills to produce written documents, undertake online research and process information using databases
  • how to work co-operatively on group tasks and understand how groups function
  • to improve your own learning, explore personal strengths and weaknesses, time management, develop specialist learning skills and autonomy in learning
  • problem-solving: how to explore alternative solutions and discriminate between them.


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.

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 History 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 History 5 at HL or 6 at SL

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. 

However, please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.

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.


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

UK/EU Overseas

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

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.


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.


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