Browser does not support script.

Postgraduate course

American Studies MA

Explore the USA through history, film, literature, popular culture and more.

If you enjoy approaching a subject from different angles and challenging yourself to see things in new ways, this could be the course for you. This course takes a broad approach to questions of identity, nationalism, race, sexuality and gender in the USA. We consider America as a cultural construct as well as a geographical and political entity.

York campus

  • Duration – 1 year full time
  • Start date – September 2022
  • School – School of Humanities

Minimum Entry Requirements

    2:2 honours degree in a related subject

    Interview if your honours degree is in an unrelated subject

Tuition Fees

    UK and EU 2021-22 £6,500 full time

    International 2021-22 £12,750 full time

Course overview

You will become an increasingly independent writer and researcher, taking more of a lead in your seminar discussions than you may have at Undergraduate level. Our focus on presentations as a way of sharing and discussing your response to topics will also give you valuable transferable skills. This programme is well-suited to those students who prefer diversity to the narrower focus of a single-subject Master’s degree.

The modules take you on a series of journeys - from a discussion of American Studies itself as an approach, and then from the immediate localities, regions and borders of the United States, to  wider national and international settings. This will offer multi-perspective interpretations of the United States, internally, with its neighbours and with the rest of the world.

Course structure

Level 1


Credits: 30

Compulsory module

This core module introduces you to a range of perspectives on both past and contemporary methodological approaches and theoretical viewpoints. You will discover how different critical perspectives on myths and ideas affect our understanding of American culture, its peoples and its complex relationship with its past. We will also examine the development of American Studies as an approach, an ‘inter-discipline’, through a critical reading of some seminal texts and critiques. 

Credits: 30

Compulsory module

On this module you will consider the historical and cultural significance of the city and urban spaces. The city as a human institution has a long history. At the beginning of the 21st century, over 54% of the global population lives in cities or ‘mega-urban’ centres (United Nations, 2014 statistic). The module aims to explore new readings of old spaces, re-imagining and mapping new possibilities. The endless adaptability of the city exists in constant tension with governmental and legislative control over urban space. You will negotiate these issues through fictional and non-fictional explorations of the history, contemporary use, and projected future of the city space.

Credits: 30

Compulsory module

Examine the historical and cultural significance of regions and borders in American culture. Take account of the dialogues and subjugated narratives that emerge in history, literature and culture. Consider also the different relations and tensions in history and literature. You will explore how the mass media have sustained the myths of regional and national American identity, and the international circulation of American culture.

Credits: 30

Compulsory module

Explore in more depth the multiple and diverse identities that make up America. Using a variety of approaches and sources, you will examine both internal and external constructions of American identity post-1945. This approach will allow you to understand the interactive tensions and relationships between race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality that lie at the heart of American Studies.

Credits: 60

Compulsory module

Plan, research and write an independent research dissertation, on a topic of specific interest to you. You will make extensive use of primary and cultural sources and advanced secondary literature. Research ethics and integrity practices are introduced at the start of the programme and will underpin your dissertation work. This will allow you to demonstrate the full range of attributes required of the professional academic at a publishable level. An academic supervisor will support you throughout this module. They will meet with you on a one to one basis to provide guidance.  

Teaching and assessment


The academic year is divided into 3 terms:

  • Term 1 is from September to December
  • Term 2  is from January to March
  • Term 3  is from April to June.

You will complete work on your dissertation in July and August.

All taught sessions take place in the evening from 4.00pm to 7.00pm. Full time students will have 2 sessions each week. Part time students will have 1 session each week.

Each week small presentation groups will lead the discussion of that week's topic. You will contribute your own interpretation of the week's study material, working independently and in groups. The sessions will allow you to discuss your ideas in a safe and supportive environment.

Your workload on this course will incude:

  • 30 contact hours for each taught module
  • 124 hours of supported open learning for each taught module (for example, reading online documentation)
  • 146 hours of independent study for each taught module.


All assessment is by coursework.

You will be assessed by portfolio for the 2 core modules. This could include writing essay, film or book reviews or writing a reflective journal.

You will be assessed by a 5,000 word essay for your 2 optional modules.

You will produce a 10,000 word dissertation which will be submitted at the end of the course.

All assignments are submitted, and feedback received, through the university’s virtual learning environment.

Academic support

Our Academic Support team provides help in the following areas:

  • Study skills
  • Written English
  • Research skills.

You will be told how to access this support at the start of the course. You will also meet regularly with an academic tutor who can provide a range of support suring your time at university.

Entry requirements


Minimum Entry Requirements

    2:2 honours degree in a related subject

    Interview if your honours degree is in an unrelated subject

Entry onto this postgraduate course requires a minimum of a 2:2 undergraduate degree in a related subject.

If your undergraduate degree is not in American Studies or History,  you may be accepted on to the course following an interview.

International Students

International students will need to demonstrate that they have equivalent experience /qualifications as home students (ie the same entry criteria as above).

If their first language is not English they must show evidence of English Language competence at IELTS level 6.0 (with no skill below 5.5) or equivalent.

APEL policy

If you can't meet these minimum requirements it may be possible to take into account evidence of Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) as an alternative method of meeting the programme’s entry requirements. In such a case, appropriate references and records of employment might be presented to support the applicant’s case for admission.


Fees and Funding

UK & EU 2020 - 21

The tuition fee for 2020 entry to this postgraduate course is £6,500 for full-time UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.

For UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students studying part time, the tuition fee for 2020 entry to this postgraduate course is £3,250 per year.

Postgraduate loans are available to help you pay for your master’s course. Find out more about postgraduate funding opportunities.

International (non-EU) 2020 - 21

The tuition fee for 2020 entry to this postgraduate course is £12,750 for international students.

Due to immigration laws, international students on a Student Visa must be studying full-time. For more information about visa requirements and short-term study visas, please visit the International Visa and Immigration pages.

More information about funding your studies is available on our International Fees and Funding page.

Tuition Fees

    UK and EU 2021-22 £6,500 full time

    International 2021-22 £12,750 full time

Alumni Scholarships

If you are an alumni of York St John University we have scholarships available to help you continue your studies.

Scholarships for Alumni

Additional costs and financial support


Whilst studying for your degree, there may be additional costs related to your course. This may include purchasing personal equipment and stationery, books and optional field trips.


View our accommodation pages for detailed information on accommodation and living costs.


We are not currently taking applications for September 2021 entry to this course. Applications for September 2022 entry will open from this page in due course.

Why choose Postgraduate study?

More to explore

Get in touch

Cookie Settings