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Course content

American culture has often been seen as distinctive and unique, producing some of the world’s greatest writers and artists. This exciting and varied degree will allow you to develop a deeper understanding of American literature and its cultural context by looking at specific writers, genres or periods alongside drama, film and photography.

You’ll study core modules developing your research skills and questioning what it means to study literature today, and you’ll undertake an independently researched dissertation on a topic of your choice. You’ll also pursue some of the topics that suit your interests when you choose from a range of optional modules exploring different aspects of American literature and culture, from the 19th century to contemporary writing.

In addition, you’ll be able to broaden your understanding by choosing to take one of your options from the wide range of non-American modules in English Literature that we offer.

Leeds was the first university in Britain to establish a Chair in the field of American Literature. It’s an interest that we continue to uphold with staff researching topics such as American literary culture, masculinity and gender, American film, globalization, postcolonial literature, Jewish narratives and African-American writing. You’ll benefit from all of their expertise and develop your knowledge in our excellent research libraries – a stimulating environment in which to prepare for further study or gain valuable transferable skills.

This degree is also available as a part-time option.

Course content

In Semester 1 you’ll study a core module which will develop your understanding of research methods in literary study, as well as what it means to study literature and culture in the 21st century. You’ll also choose the first of your optional modules to explore topics that suit your interests in more depth.

You’ll then continue to pursue your interests in Semester 2, with two further optional modules. One of your optional modules can be from outside the programme, allowing you to explore topics from Anglo-Saxon and medieval literature to modernist or postcolonial writing.

Throughout the year, you’ll be working on your research project/dissertation, which allows you to research in depth a topic in American literature and culture of your choice. You’ll be able to submit this up to the deadline at the end of the course in September.

If you study this degree on a part-time basis, you’ll take the same number of modules over a longer period, meaning you take fewer modules in each year.

Course structure

Compulsory modules

  • Studying English: Research Methods 30 credits
  • Research Project 60 credits

Optional modules

  • Fictions of Citizenship in Contemporary American Literature 30 credits
  • Feeling Time 30 credits
  • The African American Tradition: Eight Major Works 30 credits

For more information on typical modules, read American Literature and Culture MA Full Time in the course catalogue

For more information on typical modules, read American Literature and Culture MA Part Time in the course catalogue

Learning and teaching

Most of your modules will be taught in small-group seminars, where you will discuss particular topics in each module with your tutor and the class. Independent study is also an important element of this course, allowing you to develop and then demonstrate valuable skills in independent research and analysis.


Most option modules are assessed by one 4,000 word essay. The research project/dissertation is 12,000-15,000 words in length.

Career opportunities

This degree will allow you build on your knowledge and acquire transferable skills that are very attractive to employers.

You’ll have sophisticated research and analytical skills that allow you to consider complex information from different sources, and you’ll also be able to communicate and defend your views clearly either verbally or in writing. You’ll also be comfortable working independently or in a team and have good cultural awareness.

If you’re interested in pursuing further postgraduate study, this degree offers excellent preparation for PhD-level research through the dissertation and research methods modules. However, you’ll also have the skills to succeed in careers in publishing, advertising, broadcasting, journalism, law and teaching.

Careers support

Leeds for Life is our unique approach to helping you make the most of University by supporting your academic and personal development. Find out more at the Leeds for Life website.

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.

Visit the American Literature and Culture MA page on the University of Leeds website for more details!





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