American Studies MA

This programme is one of the few one-year taught MA American Studies programmes in the country. We offer a range of modules designed to develop your understanding of the United States through a range of historical, literary and cultural perspectives.

York St John University
Course fees
2019 - 20 Full-time Home & EU students: £5,000, International (non EU) students: £12,750 per annum
Full-time & Part-time options available
Start Date
September 2019
Humanities, Religion & Philosophy

Course overview

This degree offers a tightly integrated programme with a selection of modules that will enrich your research methods and approaches in the American Studies subject-area. Whilst concentrating on the core aspects of American Studies you will be encouraged to pursue your research through avenues of related subjects (History, Literature and Film) forming a holistic, yet inter-disciplinary, approach. The modules offered emphasise a cross-fertilisation of subject areas, promoting an international perspective towards America, such as global concerns and transnational considerations, thus shifting from the original constructs of America, ‘American uniqueness’ and ‘exceptionalism’ (Brian Edwards, Globalising American Studies, 2010).

This programme is, therefore, well-suited to those students who prefer diversity to the narrower focus of a single-subject Master’s degree.

The suite of taught modules have been carefully constructed to 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 the 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.

You will engage in an inter-connected sequence of debates which will lead you to a greater understanding of the complexity of the United States as a cultural construct as well as a geographical and political entity.


Course structure

The academic year is divided into three terms: term 1 (September –December); term 2 (January-March); term 3 (April to June). July and August is the period when you write up your dissertation. All taught sessions take place in the evening, 4pm-7pm. Full-time teaching is two evenings per week and part-time one evening per week.


Term 1

  • Critical Approaches (core)
  • Cityscapes (core)

Term 2

  • Alternative Americas (core)
  • Route A: Transnational Border Crossings (optional) or Peril and Progress (optional module taken from International History MA)
  • Route B: Dissertation: I (core)

Term 3

  • Route A: Dissertation I and II (core)
  • Route B: Contemporary American Literature (optional module from Contemporary Literature MA) / Dissertation: II (core)

Each module is worth 30 credits; you will take two modules per term.


American Studies has a historical, literary, cultural and evidence-based approach which requires wide, critical reading and intelligent synthesis of ideas and information. It requires you to construct arguments in writing. You will receive critical and constructive comments on your progress as an integral part of teaching and learning, through individual meetings with tutors, feedback on written work or specific coursework tutorials.

We place importance on presentations so, as a transferable skill, you will present seminar papers extensively throughout the course of your modules. These will be used as a basis for feedback and will then feed into your written work. These exercises will develop your critical abilities as well as widen your familiarity with, and confidence in handling, a range of sources, preparing you for the modules’ summative assessment stage, and the final dissertation.

This programme places a strong emphasis on the development of independent research and writing. The programme’s assessment strategies are designed to develop independent research skills; the ability to structure and write a sophisticated critical essay and longer academic monographs, and the opportunity to pursue your own intellectual interests within each module’s thematic scope.

Teaching and Learning

Teaching and learning at postgraduate level differs from what you may have experienced at undergraduate level. Each week, small presentation groups lead/initiate the discussion of the topic. You will therefore bring to the table your own interpretation of the given material, working independently as well as in a group. The sessions will provide you with the opportunity to discuss your ideas in a safe and supportive environment.

Workload: 30 contact hours per taught module / 124 supported open learning hours (e.g. online documentation) per taught module / 146 independent study hours per taught module

Our Academic Support Team provides help in the following areas: study skills, written English, and research skills. Details on where to get support will be provided at the beginning of the course. In addition, you will meet regularly with an academic tutor, who is there in a pastoral capacity.

Assessment and Feedback

Coursework makes up 100 percent of assessment. You will be assessed by portfolio for two core modules (essay, film and or book reviews, reflective journal), and by a 5,000-word essay for the two optional modules. You will also produce a 15,000-word dissertation, which will be submitted at the end of the course.

All assignments are submitted to, and receive feedback via, the University’s virtual learning environment.


The programme will be taught in small seminar discussion groups. The small groups will encourage an intimate environment, where you will have plenty of opportunity to interact with your peers both orally and receptively. The tutors will establish the body of sources to be examined and will assign seminar papers to individuals or groups, but beyond these seminar papers you will be able to set the agenda on the basis of the material examined. We also place importance in presentations so, as a transferable skill, you will present seminar papers extensively throughout the course of your modules. These will be used as a basis for feedback and will then feed into your written work.

Programme specification

Further information on this course is available in the programme specification. Please note that the programme specification relates to course content that is currently being studied by students at the University. For new programmes, the programme specification will be made available online prior to the start of the course.

Disability Advice

York St John University works hard to create an inclusive environment for all our students. We offer a range of disability advice services to assist students throughout their studies.


Entry requirements

UK/EU Students

Applicants should normally have a first degree in the subject or an equivalent area at 2:2 or above. Candidates who do not have a first degree in History will be required to have 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

Where applicants do not meet the stated entry requirements above, it may be possible to take into account evidence of 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.

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. These can be accessed through our Admissions webpages.

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Fees and funding

Tuition fees

UK & EU 2019 / 20

The tuition fee for 2019 entry to this postgraduate course is £5,000 for full-time UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.

For part-time options, see the Fees & Funding webpages for more information 

Postgraduate Loan: A Postgraduate Loan is available to help you pay for your Master’s course. Find out more about the postgraduate loan.

A 10% discount is applicable to all YSJU Alumni (subject to a minimum of 120 credits and achievement of a recognised award) undertaking PG level study (excludes PGCE).

Overseas 2019 / 20

The tuition fee for 2019 entry to this postgraduate course is £12,750 for international students.

Due to immigration laws, International Students on a Tier 4 visa must be studying full-time. For more information about Visa requirements and Short-term study visas, please visit the International Visa and Immigration webpages.

International Fees & Funding

How to Apply

You can apply directly to the course via our Apply Now links. Please select the variant of the course that you intend to undertake (e.g. full-time or part-time) as the link will take you to a customised form for the specific course. You will need to create a login and password and complete the online form. Please contact two referees in advance of submitting your application as an automated request will go out as soon as you submit, and your application will not be reviewed until both references are in place.

Applications for September 2019 entry must be submitted and completed by 5 October 2019.

Apply Now: Part-time

Apply Now: Full-time


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