Masters degrees in USA History explore the debated historical origins of the Unites United States of America, including the European colonisation of the Americas, and the prehistory history of the Native Americans.
Related subjects include Central American History and South American HistoryAmerican Studies and American Literature. Entry requirements normally include an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject such as History, Anthropology or Colonial Studies.
Courses in the History of the USA examine the contested heritages, cultures and demographics of American people: from the development of Native American society, to the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the 15th century, and the expansion of the American frontier in the 17th century.
Popular areas for postgraduate specialism (and dissertation research) include America’s declaration of independence, the slave trade and early years of the republic, the Civil War, the Great Depression, and the terror attacks of 9/11. Within these areas, specialist topics and themes include women’s rights, race and identity, class and economic progression.
For example, you might analyse the women’s suffrage movement, and its impacts on gender equality in the USA. Or, you might research topics such as African American ancestry and heritage that continue to resonate within America’s modern history.
Careers in the field may include working as a historian on behalf of a heritage institution, roles in publishing and the media, or even public relations.
Please note that all modules are subject to change. Please see our modules disclaimer for more information.
Thanks to the possibility of building your own pathway within our MA programme, you can specialise in your preferred area.
You may continue your academic development with doctoral research, or pursue a career as a teacher, archivist, or in museums. Many of our students have specialised in local history and later progressed to jobs in the heritage and conservation sector.
In addition, your experience of individual research will help you to develop valuable transferable skills. You will have demonstrated your ability to understand and apply complex ideas; to collect and analyse large quantities of information; to manage your own time and motivate yourself; to construct reasoned and articulate arguments; and to reach carefully balanced judgements. This should equip you to embark upon a range of professional careers.
This programme is distinctive in its breadth and diversity, both chronologically and thematically. It draws on the wide range of American historical expertise available in the School. You will enrich your skills in independent research, critical analysis and presentations, and gain an in-depth understanding of the key topics and historiographical debates of this young nation’s dynamic past.
You will attain a level of expertise and knowledge that will enable you to embark upon independent research at an advanced level in American history. The University of Edinburgh is home to one of the largest teams of American historians outside the United States, allowing us to provide courses and research supervision in a wide array of topics and time periods with world class expertise. The impressive combined resources of the University’s Main Library and the National Library of Scotland, home to one of the UK’s largest collections of Americana, will be on hand.
You’ll take two semesters of seminar-style courses in small groups, then apply your independent research skills developing your dissertation, with the supervision of academic staff. This is your chance to be creative; our breadth of expertise means we’re open to almost any area of interest. You will complete three compulsory courses and select a further three options from a wide range on offer.
Compulsory courses previously offered include:
Option courses previously offered include those listed below. Option courses change from year to year and those available when you start your studies may be different from those shown in the list:
Our students view the programme and a graduate degree from Edinburgh as an advanced qualification valued and respected by many employers. Those students interested in long-term academic careers consider the programme as preparation for a PhD.
The combination of specialised skills training courses and seminars, and the opportunity for independent research provides you with transferable skills that will be beneficial whatever path you choose. Graduates pursue work in related areas such as museums, policy think-tanks, national and international civil services, non-governmental organisations, galleries, libraries and historic trusts whilst others build on the transferable skills gained and enter areas as diverse as business, media, public administration and marketing.
Visit our website for more information on fees, scholarships, postgraduate loans and other funding options to study American Studies at Swansea University - 'Welsh University of the Year 2017' (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017).
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:
The course offers a programme of study that is broad-ranging in terms of its coverage of a variety of areas of Europe since 1500, including Russia and the Soviet Union; medical history; Britain and Ireland; the British Empire and British foreign relations; the Mediterranean world; and US history since 1800. We have thematic and conceptual specialisms in social, political and cultural history; comparative and transnational histories; and the history of migrations and diasporas. If you join us you will be taught by leading authorities in these fields and will gain advanced level training in historical methods, theories and theory and ideas relevant to the study of this island’s past. Overall we provide an excellent foundation for further study; a bridge to new employment opportunities; and a fundamentally valuable cultural and educational experience. We work with local history and cultural sector practitioners from museums, archives, and libraries, and these people contribute to our programme and enhance your experience.
The MA comprises four taught modules of 120 credits and a dissertation of 60 credits. The programme is taught by lectures, staff papers, seminar discussions and via student presentations.
The modules are:
Debates and Controversies (30 credit points). This module examines some of the major debates in Historical studies today. The debates and controversies chosen are not exhaustive but are instead exemplars of why historians over disagree over sources, methods, politics, and other factors, and why historical works can be so different. At the same time the module will respond to a diversity of student interests by offering students an opportunity to develop their own reading and historical insights.
Themes in History (30 credit points). This module offers students the opportunity to explore themes in History that draw upon areas of particular staff specialism and that will develop and deepen their knowledge and understand. Divided into three themes of four weeks each, each block will examine key questions, sources and approaches within a theme. We will offer 4-5 themes each cycle to enable a degree of choice within the module’s teaching and learning programme.
Research Methods for Historical Research (30 credit points). This module will provide students with the appropriate research skills necessary for study at postgraduate level, ranging from advanced usage of the library’s rich range of digitised primary sources to the exploitation of free sites and the development of a comprehensive and relevant bibliography for the dissertation. Sessions are designed to help students fit their emerging research question explicitly within the framework of available secondary and primary sources and to develop strategies for obtaining the most benefit possible from such resources. The module also allows students to practise and develop their oral presentation skills.
Special Topic in History (30 credit points). This module encourages focused study of one field of staff expertise. It is taught by individual consultation and a series of group sessions that encourage group support and shared reflection on the research process. Examined by an extended essay, the module will foster deep engagement with specifically related clusters of historical texts.
Dissertation (60 credit points). This module is an independent piece of research on an aspect of historical studies that interests you. Students set the agenda and are guided by some general sessions at the beginning and by individual supervision sessions throughout the semester. The final dissertation is approximately 15,000 words in length.
Full Time: Two modules per semester. Each taught module involves one two-hour lecture/seminar meeting per week for twelve consecutive weeks. Taught modules are scheduled for evenings 5:15-7:15 pm. This is to facilitate attendance by those in full-time work. Independent study modules involve an equivalent number of study hours, with contact hours arranged with supervisory staff.
Part Time: One module per semester. Each taught module involves one two-hour lecture/seminar meeting per week for twelve consecutive weeks. Taught modules are scheduled for evenings 5:15-7:15pm. Independent study modules involve an equivalent number of study hours, with contact hours arranged with supervisory staff.
Students graduating with the MA in History are well-prepared to undertake a variety of occupations. Some students will progress to doctoral research and academic careers. Others will become teachers or lecturers in further education. Not all MA graduates become teachers or university lecturers. Other options include work in libraries, archives, museums, or full-time work in research for charities, official organisations, government, etc. Others may go into marketing advertising, publishing, the civil service or politics. Our MA programmes have been known to help teachers advance their careers. Others pursue these degrees purely through interest and a love of the past. All graduate occupational outcomes are enhanced by a higher qualification such as this.