You may be wondering what American Studies actually is – as do a lot of people, and as did I about 3 months before I sent off my UCAS application! Well, I’m going to try and summarise for you exactly what it is I do for my degree, where I can go and what I can do after I graduate in 2020.
American Studies is an interdisciplinary degree which focusses on:
- Politics and International Relations
- Visual Culture
As an American Studies student, I am able to draw on the expertise of staff from each of these disciplines, widening my knowledge and helping me develop a wide variety of skills.
At the University of Leicester, you can do American Studies as a single honours degree (like I do!), or as a joint honours degree alongside English or History.
In my first year, all modules were core – meaning I couldn’t choose any optional ones – but this gave me a firm grounding of all disciplines. My first year modules consisted of:
- Freedom Written in Blood: United States History, 1776-1877
- Classic US Texts
- Introduction to American Government and Politics
- US History since 1877
- Modern American Writing
- American Film and Visual Culture
Please note, these were the core modules for the academic year of 2017-18 – they may not be the same if you were to study at Leicester in future years.
From these modules I was able to meet people from both the single and joint honours American Studies, as well as people from other degrees (eg. Politics, History and English). This gave me a good grounding for all disciplines and I had practice of varied types of assessments in all modules which has helped me to be more confident in my second year.
In my second year (correct for the 2018-2019 academic year) I have so far completed modules in:
- The American West (an interdisciplinary module, using all aspects of the degree together as one) (core)
- Ethnicity and Diversity in American Literature, 1950-2000 (core)
- Americas Plural: Latin America and the United States (core)
And next semester I will be doing:
- The City (another interdisciplinary module) (core)
- Ethnicity and Diversity in American Life, from Emancipation to the Present (core)
- The Making of Contemporary US Foreign Policy (optional)
I made the decision to take a political module as my optional one, as I enjoyed my first year politics module the most, and got the best grade from it. I did however have the option to choose from history-based and literature-based modules.
In third year, you have the option to study abroad at one of the university’s partner institutions in the US. These are spread across the whole country and this year there was 20 universities to choose from.
I applied to Leicester on the BA American Studies with a Year Abroad course, however I have now made the decision not to go as I would like to spend a fourth year doing a Masters Degree at Leicester in Politics and International Relations. My two closest course friends however have just received their placement destinations and will be going to Arizona and Florida!
In your final year, whether that be a third or fourth year, you can tailor your degree to your individual interests, with all modules (other than your dissertation!) being optional.
Of course, studying is not all you can do as an American Studies student! There is also the student-run society. I have been a member of this since my arrival at Leicester and have taken part in many events and activities. Some of these have included:
- Thanksgiving Dinner
- Tailgate Party (NFL)
- Superbowl Party
- Pub Quizzes
- Bar Crawls
- Society Ball
What can I do after leaving university? Pretty much anything!
One of the main reasons that I chose this degree was because I had no idea what I wanted to do when I finished. Research I did about careers and employability related to American Studies showed that people got careers in:
- Public Relations
My plan now is to do further study (as I said above) at the University of Leicester and then see where I end up! At the moment I believe this could be in Public Relations, Research or Teaching. It’s all very exciting but I don’t want to wish my time away at university!
I hope this has given you some information about American Studies, and maybe I will get to meet you at the university in the coming years!
Let me know if you have any questions about the course of the University of Leicester, I would love to hear from you if you are considering doing this degree!