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The MA by Research in American Studies helps to develop an understanding of the forces that have moulded and continue to shape America, and helps us to make sense of our contemporary world. The comparative study of the history and culture of the United States addresses themes such as immigration, democracy, slavery, imperialism, multiculturalism, religion, the economy and, more recently, terrorism. These issues do not just concern the past; they are directly relevant to the world we live in.
The MA by Research in American Studies is ideal for those who want:
- an MA qualification in areas where taught programmes are not offered;
- the experience of a research degree without committing to a PhD at the outset.
Research proposals are invited on any topic in American Studies for which staff in the Department of Political and Cultural Studies can provide supervision. It is a good idea to enter into discussions about your research project in American Studies with the Department's Director of Postgraduate Research, Professor Roland Axtmann ([email protected]), before drawing up an initial proposal and starting the application process.
The Department of Political and Cultural Studies (PCS) boasts a dynamic research environment with a committed staff all of whom are research-active. Academic members of staff have a very considerable range of research interests on which we offer supervision for research degrees in American Studies.
An MA by Research in American Studies gives you the chance to pursue a major research project based around your own passions and interests in American Studies, leading to a qualification which can open the door to an academic career or boost employment prospects outside academia. It will give you the freedom to explore a topic of your choosing and develop a methodology under the close supervision of two experienced academics but without attending regular classes as required in taught programmes.
Typically as a student of the MA by Research in American Studies programme you will work closely with your supervisors, meeting them regularly, in many instances fortnightly, in the first term and at regular intervals thereafter. Meetings are logged and goals agreed each time.
Students enrolled in the MA by Research American Studies are required to attend skills and training courses at College and University level. You may also be expected to give presentations to other research students and staff at departmental seminars and attend the postgraduate conference of the College of Arts and Humanities which is held in October.
At any one time, the department has over forty research students who work together with their supervisors on their projects.
In the area of American Studies, staff have expertise in the American Civil War; US foreign policy; the US ‘War on Drugs’; US politics and government; surveillance and urban America; American conservatism; the Spanish Civil War; American military history; the American West; New South; 20th century American literature, film and popular culture.
Discover more about the Department of Political and Cultural Studies:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This programme offers students the opportunity to develop their interests in aspects of American literature, from first colonisation to the present, post-9/11 moment.
We are the oldest department of English Literature in the world, and at the last Research Assessment Exercise were awarded the highest research rating possible, of 5*A. We have one of the largest graduate programmes in this area in the country and a rich research culture covering all aspects of literatures in English.
We offer supervision in all areas of American literature, in topics as diverse as the Black Atlantic, postmodernist fiction, and the poetics of republicanism.
The research of staff has made valuable contributions to the areas of literature and philosophy, modernism/postmodernism, medieval and early modern literature, history of the book, romanticism, transatlantic studies and performance studies.
English Literature houses the Centre for the History of the Book and is one of the UK's leading forces in this area. It works closely with the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and with the National Library of Scotland. The latter's recently acquired Murray Archive is crucial for studies in Romanticism, Book History, Bibliography and Archive Studies.
The academic staff you will be working with are all active researchers or authors, many of them prize winners and leading scholars in their fields. As well as benefiting from their expert supervision, you will undertake a seminar-based programme of training in core research skills and subject-specific methodologies. You will also have the opportunity to develop other transferable skills through the University’s Institute for Academic Development
We encourage you to share your research and learn from the work of others through a vibrant programme of Work-in-Progress seminars, reading groups, visiting speakers and conferences.
Our postgraduate journal, Forum, is a valuable conduit for research findings, and provides an opportunity for editorial experience.
On hand are all the amenities you would expect, such as computing facilities, study areas and a common room and kitchen. Our location gives you easy access to the University’s general facilities, such as the Main Library and our collections, as well as to the National Museum, National Library and National Galleries of Scotland at the heart of the city.
In addition to the impressive range of resources available at the University’s Main Library (more than two million printed volumes and generous online resources) and the nearby National Library of Scotland, we host a number of collections of rare and valuable archival materials, all of which will be readily available to you as a postgraduate student.
Among the literary treasures are the libraries of William Drummond, Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Hugh MacDiarmid, Adam Smith, Dugald Stewart and Norman MacCaig, plus the WH Auden collection, the Corson Collection of works by and about Sir Walter Scott and the Ramage collection of poetry pamphlets.
Our cultural collections are highly regarded and include a truly exceptional collection of early Shakespeare quartos and other early modern printed plays, and world-class manuscript and archival collections.
The programme examines a range of US literary and historical contexts, introducing ways in which the production of an idea of 'America' is variously achieved and contested between 1776 and the present.
You will explore the way literary, cultural, political and philosophical texts have contributed to the development, interrogation and revision of American identity and culture between 1776 and the present day.
You will be introduced to the rich diversity of American writing over the past 250 years by academic staff who can offer outstanding research and teaching expertise in this fascinating field. The compulsory courses, specifically developed for this masters programme, offer you the opportunity to think critically about some of the most pressing concerns in literary and cultural studies.
You will find a wealth of resources on hand at the University’s many libraries and the National Library of Scotland, which holds both the Hugh Sharp Collection (more than 300 volumes) of first editions of English and North American authors, and the Henderson Memorial Library of Books on America (more than 700 volumes), containing 19th and early 20th century works mainly on cultural history, description and travel, sociology and biography, and relating mostly to the Civil War.
You will take two courses per semester, one compulsory and one chosen from a range of options, each consisting of a weekly two-hour seminar. You will also take courses in research skills and methods. After your two semesters of taught courses you will work towards your dissertation, with supervisor support.
Option courses may include:
Students who successfully complete this programme will gain:
You will develop research and analytical skills that can be extended into future advanced study in English literature. You will also be equipped with skills that could be beneficial for a teaching career or a role within a cultural institution. The array of transferable skills you will acquire, such as communication and project management, will prove highly valuable to potential employers in whatever field you choose to enter.