American Studies

American Studies (History) - BA (Hons)

UCAS code T701

2018

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?

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 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 6th in The Complete University Guide 2017.

For graduate prospects, American Studies at Kent was ranked 2nd in The Complete University Guide 2017. American Studies students who graduated from Kent in 2015 were the most successful in the UK at finding work or further study opportunities (DLHE).

In the most recent research rankings, English at Kent was 10th in the UK for research intensity and 15th for research power; history at Kent was 8th in the UK for research intensity and in the top 20 for research power (REF 2014).

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

Possible modules may include Credits

The aim of this module is to provide a broad introduction to the literature, art, history and sociology of the United States. Some of the themes to be explored are: the natural environment, colonial life, slavery, US political culture, Native American representation, the 20th Century novel and poem, American architecture, music and popular culture, America at the new millennium. The module establishes a firm base from which students can proceed to Stage 2 modules and ultimately go onto study at institutions in the United States. The emphasis throughout is in interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary thought. The module is loyal to the ethos of American Studies as a groundbreaking fusion of theories, pathways and academic criticism.

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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, 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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This module emphasizes the links between literature, history, and culture. It introduces students to the formative events, debates and struggles of the twentieth century, and how these have been addressed by different modes of creative and critical writing. Topics such as Modernism, the Holocaust, the US culture industry, postcolonial studies and neoliberalism will be considered and discussed in relation to fictional and critical literature, films, photography, graphic novels, music, and other media. Weekly screenings will run alongside lectures and seminar discussions. Literary works across all genres will be read in relation to visual material – such as paintings, photography, feature and documentary films – and a range of selected critical reading. The majority of writing samples are drawn from English, American and more broadly Anglophone writing, though several instances of writing in other languages will also be included (all taught in translation).

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This module aims to emphasize connections between literature and culture in the USA, from early considerations of a distinct American literature to the present day. By way of six key themes or preoccupations, the module will introduce students to some of the major debates and antagonisms, and rhetorical and stylistic modes, that have formed and modified American literary and intellectual culture Questions of Belief, Gender, Race, Economy, Space, and Time will be approached through a range of textual forms set against their historical contexts and within the broader nexus of cultural production including the visual performing arts where appropriate. Students will be encouraged to examine the specific local, regional, and national frameworks within which these texts are produced, but also to look at the ways in which they resist and transcend national boundaries, in the development of an American register in world literatures for instance.

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This year-long course examines some of the most significant writing of the Romantic period (1780-1830) - a period in which the role and forms of literature were being redefined - alongside recent debates in critical theory. You will study a wide range of literary texts from the poetry of Blake, Wordsworth and Keats to the novels of Jane Austen and Mary Shelley, with reference to contemporary literary and political debates and against the backdrop of the period’s turbulent history. In parallel, this module explores fundamental critical questions about literature: Why read it? What is an author? What is the role of poetry in society? How is literature shaped by culture? What is ‘Art’? Continuities and disjunctions between Romantic writers’ answers to these questions and those provided by more recent literary theorists will be a central concern of the course.

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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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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 module introduces first year undergraduate students to some of the key historical events of modern history, and related debates and questions that have occupied the discipline of International Relations (IR). The focus is on communicating a few key themes, ideas, issues and principles that recur throughout the history of the last hundred years, and that cut across various theoretical approaches and different schools of thought. These key ideas include: war, conflict, violence and terror; international reformism; the nature of international order under conditions of anarchy; the balance of power; the influence of ideology on international affairs and on theorising; the tension between order and justice in the international sphere; and the nature of imperialism and its effects. Exploration of these themes, ideas, and issues emerges through analysis of the World Wars, the Cold War, decolonisation and the emergence of the US as the world's sole superpower in the post-Cold War era. The course places an emphasis on historical events between the global North and South, as these events often led to dramatic shifts and changes in international relations and foreign policy. Students will be encouraged to identify significant continuities and changes in international politics across the period studied.

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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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You have the opportunity to select wild modules in this stage

Stage 2

Possible modules may include Credits

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. By using an assessment pattern that insists on engaging multiple viewpoints and disciplines, the module inculcates transferable skills and serves to prepare students for their more substantive undertaking in the final year (the interdisciplinary long essay).

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This course will examine this key era of US history by examining the key political and social events, developments in the history of ideas and historiographical controversies from the victory over Mexico to the final withdrawal of US troops from the South. It will focus on the changes that occurred and the changing interpretations of them. Students will be able to see the interplay of forces and ideas that led to a conflict that few, if any, wanted and lasted for longer than anyone expected. Historical and fictional depictions in art and film will be evaluated for the ways they shape perspectives. The key historical topics include the rise of slavery as a public issue in the late 1840s, the attempts to find compromise within the Constitutional framework, the activities of the extremists, the changing nature and goals of the war, the effects the war had on both sides, the plans for the post-war period, the changing elite and popular attitudes, the nature of the final, pragmatic arrangements that the country accepted. Students will be able to pursue topics of their choice alongside and as part of these themes.

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This module will explore the American West, looking at the social and economic dynamics underlying Western history, together with processes of environmental transformation. The unit spans a chronological period from 1803 – the Louisiana Purchase - to 1893 – the date of the Chicago Exposition and Turner’s famed ‘Frontier thesis’. Commencing with a look at constructions of the West in history, literature and film, the module will move on to critically analyse key issues and moments in Western History including the Lewis and Clark expedition, the Gold Rush, and the Indian Wars. Outline themes include the construction of regional identities, protracted conflicts for resources, environmental changes, and the continuing importance of the West as a symbolic landscape. A key aim of the course lies in facilitating critical discussion on the process of nineteenth-century westward expansion, addressing issues of colonial conquest, environmental despoliation, economic change, and social cohesion. Through lectures and seminars, we will explore the major themes of Western history in this period and examine relevant historiographical debates. Portrayals of the West in art, literature, and film will be used extensively to illustrate the diversity of Western culture and situate the importance of myth in shaping popular and historical discourse.

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Condemned by the international community for refusing to sign the Kyoto Accords, rendered powerless by electricity blackouts, and stricken by the Hurricane Katrina disaster, the United States of America is today embroiled in a narrative of environmental controversy and catastrophe. This module explores to what extent the USA has been ‘inviting doomsday’ throughout the modern (twentieth-century) period. Commencing with an introductory session on writing and researching American environmental history, the module is then split into four sections: Science and Recreation, Doomsday Scenarios, Environmental Protest, and Consuming Nature. Over the twelve weeks we will consider a range of environmental issues that include wildlife management in national parks, pesticide spraying on prairie farms, nuclear testing in Nevada, and Mickey Mouse rides in Disneyland. By the end of the module, we will have constructed a comprehensive map of the United States based around themes of ecological transformation, assimilation and decay.

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The curriculum works systematically through the exploration and settlement of different regions, with weekly material covering particular migratory pathways, including Chesapeake planters, New England puritans, pirates and settlers in the Caribbean, and other seminal cultural zones including attention to the Middle Colonies and the Lower South. Introductory coverage will explore the "prehistory" of British colonialism through an examination of the plantation of Ulster, and other aspects of migration and imperialism will be treated through engagement with the Scottish experiment at Darien and English attempts to gain footholds in West Africa. The curriculum will concentrate on particular themes to help sustain integrity across this diffuse oceanic domain: encounters with indigenous peoples, Atlantic imperialism, settlement demographics, and cultural folkways. The final weeks of the course will treat points of convergence and integration, including the growth of cities, religious movements, political commonalities, and the eighteenth-century wars for empire in the Atlantic, culminating in the Peace of Paris of 1763.

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Week 1: introduction

Weeks 2-6 (including Study Week) German Wars of Unification, 1864-1870

Weeks 7-12 American Civil War

Both sets of conflicts will be examined through a series of themes: political management of war in the second half of the nineteenth century; the nature of generalship and command; the issues of logistics, communications and military medicine; the experiences of front-line troops; the management and attitudes of home fronts

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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 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.

Possible modules may include Credits

Spending a period as full-time student at an overseas university, students will follow teaching and tuition in their own subject areas as well as choosing from a range of available courses in the Humanities. The curriculum will vary according to the partner institutions. Additionally, students will usually be offered to take language classes and/or courses on the culture of the host country.

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Stage 3

Possible 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 course will look at the central theme of the "Rights Era"- the move in the U. S. from a customary deference to tradition and view of the mainstream to the enforcement of political equality with far less regard for mainstream views. It will examine competing views of what "equality" means and consider the numerous groups that have demanded it since 1945 and the way they both fought for their causes and created the turbulence and confrontation in American society after 1960. These groups include, but are not limited to, African Americans, Hispanic-Americans, women, the disabled, certain religious groups, those who have faced discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, as well as other groups that followed similar legal strategies, such as environmentalists and those who seek greater guarantees of property rights, free speech rights, and gun rights. This not only is an essential topic for understanding the modern United States but as UK is currently undergoing similar legal changes, it has meaning for contemporary Britain.

This course assumes no prior knowledge of American law or of the courts in the United States. It can also include subjects of interest to students not listed above, assuming sufficient materials are available on those topics. It aims to places this groups & their activities in the context of the time and show how the strategies worked (or failed) and the reaction of both elite and general opinion to the claims.

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Animals have long been objects of fascination in human culture, and yet have received scarce attention as historical subjects until recently. This module utilises innovative research in both Environmental History and Animal Studies to centre on the role of the non-human as historical actors. The focus of study here is the modern age, 1800 to the present day, a period that arguably saw a fundamental shift in the way we 'see' animals and nature. The rise of industrial processes, urban living as well as developments in science, imperial adventuring, cultures of recreation and shifting environmental values represent just some of the aspects that affected human perspectives on the natural world, and it is these that the module will explore. Specifically, the module considers such themes across two geographical areas – Britain and the United States – with a view to deconstructing our complicated relations with the natural world in the modern age.

Principal themes and topics for discussion include:

- Animal Studies and the social construction of the non-human

- Donna Haraway and 'cyborg ecology'

- Animals and Domestic Spaces: Pets and Animals as "people'

- Animals and the military-industrial complex: From horsepower to Warhorse

- Wilderness, conservation and 'the wild': species protection, zoos and national parks

- Animal Pursuit and Display: Hunting and taxidermy

- Museum cultures, empire and natural history

- Natural history filmmaking and the visual animal

- Ethics, animal rights and vivisection

- Sustainability, farming and the environmental revolution

- Animals as symbols and metaphors in literature and film

- When animals attack: horror and beastly creatures

A critical part of the course will be to explore cultures of collecting, display and preservation of animals, notably through field trips to museums, archives and zoos.

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This module will be based around study of the German Wars of Unification (1864-1870) and the American Civil War. Both sets of conflicts will be examined through a series of themes: political management of war in the second half of the nineteenth century; the nature of generalship and command; the issues of logistics, communications and military medicine; the experiences of front-line troops; and the management and attitudes of home fronts.

Read more

This special subject addresses the loyalists during the American Revolutionary era, who for a host of reasons remained wedded to king and empire, and sought to resist the tide of movement towards US independence using any means at their disposal – ideological, economic, spiritual, physical, and emotional. The loyalists, identified with the interests of the British Crown, were among the great losers during the Revolutionary War and at independence. Estimates of between 60,000-80,000 departed the U.S. at the end of the war, repatriating in clusters throughout the British Empire. Celebrated and long-studied in Canada, the American loyalists, have been vulnerable to "the condescension of posterity": for many decades vilified in nationalistic American narratives of the Founding Era, and absentmindedly overlooked in British imperial histories that looked to the Second Empire. They were a diverse lot, mobilised by diverse interests – including within their number thousands of Indians and slaves as well as wealthy whites, Anglicans, women, soldiers, ethnic minorities, and others who had benefited from royal patronage or who disparaged the Patriot movement. The subject's topicality resonates far beyond the academy, as shown by recent developments (e.g. Scottish and Quebecois referenda, Brexit and changing sentiments on Europe, and globally prominent issues of migration and refugee integration). We treat the culture of royalism and loyalty on the eve of the Revolution, the experiences and arguments of loyalists during the Revolution (including their military history and the battles for hearts and minds), the diasporic communities of loyalists who moved to the British Isles, Sierra Leone, Nova Scotia and elsewhere, and try also to contextualise perhaps as many as half a million loyalists who remained in or returned to the U.S. after the American Revolution, who faced the prospect of an awkward reintegration.

Besides working chronologically through these themes and issues, students taking this special subject will also develop skills, work in, and be assessed in palaeography and primary source analysis (consulting the Loyalist Claims), and digital humanities (pursuing the digital mapping of loyalists).

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The United Nations was established by the victorious states of the Second World War in 1945. The preamble to the Charter of the United Nations declared that the organisation's aim is to 'save succeeding generations from the scourge of war’; promote fundamental human rights and the rights of nations large and small; maintain international law and promote social progress. This module will explore how successfully the organisation has met its founding ideals. In doing so, it will consider major issues that faced the United Nations during the first fifty years of its existence. It will examine how policy was formulated in the committee rooms of the General Assembly and the Security Council. It will then explore how effective such policy proved in the context of the Cold War and the changing post-colonial environment of the late twentieth century.

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Condemned by the international community for refusing to sign the Kyoto Accords, rendered powerless by electricity blackouts, and stricken by the Hurricane Katrina disaster, the United States of America is today embroiled in a narrative of environmental controversy and catastrophe. This module explores to what extent the USA has been ‘inviting doomsday’ throughout the modern (twentieth-century) period. Commencing with an introductory session on writing and researching American environmental history, the module is then split into four sections: Science and Recreation, Doomsday Scenarios, Environmental Protest, and Consuming Nature. Over the twelve weeks we will consider a range of environmental issues that include wildlife management in national parks, pesticide spraying on prairie farms, nuclear testing in Nevada, and Mickey Mouse rides in Disneyland. By the end of the module, we will have constructed a comprehensive map of the United States based around themes of ecological transformation, assimilation and decay.

Read more

This module explores the American West in the twentieth century, looking at social, political, economic and environmental dynamics. It plots the continuing evolution of the trans-Mississippi region in its 'developed' state (post the closure of the Frontier) as a geographical and an imagined space. A core aim lies in illuminating the West as a contested place party to many visions through discussion of such topics as Las Vegas and urban Cold War culture, the West, the militia movement, Western environmentalism and Red Power. Emphasis is placed on exploring the constructed mythology of the West via various modern mediums including Wild West shows, Disneyland and the cowboy brand in politics. Over the course of the module, we will engage with the Hollywood Western as an evolving product, situated in its twentieth-century context, as well as revisionist

scholarship on the region based around ideas of continuity versus change, ecological transformation and variegated Western identity.

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This course will examine this key era of US history by examining the key political and social events, developments in the history of ideas and historiographical controversies from the victory over Mexico to the final withdrawal of US troops from the South. It will focus on the changes that occurred and the changing interpretations of them. Students will be able to see the interplay of forces and ideas that led to a conflict that few, if any, wanted and lasted for longer than anyone expected. Historical and fictional depictions in art and film will be evaluated for the ways they shape perspectives. The key historical topics include the rise of slavery as a public issue in the late 1840s, the attempts to find compromise within the Constitutional framework, the activities of the extremists, the changing nature and goals of the war, the effects the war had on both sides, the plans for the post-war period, the changing elite and popular attitudes, the nature of the final, pragmatic arrangements that the country accepted. Students will be able to pursue topics of their choice alongside and as part of these themes.

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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 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.

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 2nd in The Complete University Guide 2017. American Studies students who graduated from Kent in 2015 were the most successful in the UK at finding work or further study opportunities (DLHE).

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.

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.

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 advise 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 2018/19 entry tuition fees have not yet been set. As a guide only, the 2017/18 tuition fees for this programme are:

UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £9250 £13810

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.

General additional costs

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

Fees for Year in Industry

For 2017/18 entrants, the standard year in industry fee for home, EU and international students is £1,350. Fees for 2018/19 entry have not yet been set.

Fees for Year Abroad

UK, EU and international students on an approved year abroad for the full 2017/18 academic year pay £1,350 for that year. Fees for 2018/19 entry have not yet been set.

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

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. 

For 2018/19 entry, 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.

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