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Course content

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.

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 is two evenings per week / Part-time is one evening per week.

Course structure

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.

Term 1

  • Critical Approaches (core)
  • Route A: Cityscapes (optional) / Route B: Dissertation: I (core)

Term 2

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

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.

Assessment

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.

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.

Learning support

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


Visit the American Studies (MA) page on the York St John University website for more details!

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