american studies student discusses his work
Mode of Study
Full-time, Full-time sandwich with work placement
3 years full-time, 4 years sandwich with work placement
Start Date
September 2019


If you’re excited by the history, politics and culture of the Americas, and want to inject your interest into a versatile qualification, this BA (Hons) American Studies degree course is a great choice.

From their nation-states and peoples to their diverse cultures, you’ll get a deep understanding of all things North and South America. By the end of the course, you’ll be prepared for a range of careers, from library and archival work, to journalism, teaching and local government positions.

100% Overall student satisfaction (NSS, 2018)

What you'll experience

On this degree course, you'll:

  • Explore the Americas, from Canada to Chile, and satisfy your interest in these diverse continents
  • Examine US foreign policy and explore important topics such as the impact of race, slavery and emancipation of the Americas
  • Pull apart the influence of Hollywood, gender and cinema on culture, and learn about the civil rights movements that shaped the future of the United States
  • Tailor your studies to the areas of the Americas that interest you the most, from entertainment and art, to sociology and economics
  • Get the opportunity to study abroad in locations such as New York State, Minnesota, North Carolina or the University of Chile and immerse yourself in the culture you’re learning about

Optional pathways

    Interested in pairing American studies with English literature or history? Expand your degree with an optional pathway into a second subject of your choice. It'll lead to these awards at the end of the course:

    Careers and opportunities

    This course prepares you for a wide range of careers in the US, the UK or further afield. You'll get a broadened worldview that will help you apply your skills in any role that demands analysis, argument or communication.

    Past graduates have established careers in areas such as:

    • publishing
    • journalism
    • local government
    • teaching
    • marketing

    You’ll get career advice and support for up to 5 years after you graduate, to help you put your best foot forward wherever your future takes you.

    The teaching staff on the American Studies course were above and beyond supportive in our education and personal lives, and a great sense of community meant nobody ever felt left out. I can easily say the best decision so far was choosing to study American Studies at the University of Portsmouth. I couldn't have asked for a better three years.

    Georgia Harrison, BA Hons American Studies student

    ​What you'll study

    Each unit on this course is worth a certain number of credits.

    In each year, you need to study units worth a total of 120 credits. For example, 4 units worth 20 credits and 1 unit worth 40 credits.

    Units currently being studied

    Core units in this year include:

    • Studying at University
    • Introduction to Latin American History
    • Introduction to North American Studies
    • Introduction to Literature and Culture in the Americas
    • Spectacular Hollywood
    • Working Life Today (In the USA)

    There are no optional units in this year.

    Core units include:

    • Race, Slavery and Emancipation in the Americas
    • Civil Rights USA
    • Home and Away: US Foreign and Domestic Policy

    Options to choose from in this year currently include:

    • Democratisation in Latin America
    • Critical Hollywood
    • From Revolution to Reconstruction
    • Puritans to Post-Modernists
    • Women's Writing in the Americas
    • Managing Across Cultures
    • IWLP (Language)
    • Learning from Experience (LiFE)

    On this course, you can do an optional work placement year between your 2nd and 3rd years to get valuable experience working in industry.

    We’ll help you secure a work placement that fits your situation and ambitions. You’ll get mentoring and support throughout the year.

    Options to choose from in this year currently include:

    • Accredited Study Abroad
    • Thomas Jefferson and the Making of the American Republic
    • Politics and Culture of the Hispanic World in 20th Century Literature and Film
    • Gender, Sexuality and Cinema
    • Magical Realism
    • US Masculinities
    • African American History and Culture
    • Transitional Justice and Human Rights
    • Germany in the American Century
    • Learning from Experience

    We use the best and most current research and professional practice alongside feedback from our students to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

    Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.

    Work experience and career planning

    To give you the best chance of securing a great job with your degree, our Careers and Employability service can help you find relevant work experience during your course.

    Take the Learning From Experience (LiFE) option and earn credits towards your degree for work, research placements, volunteer roles or internships you take during your studies.

    We can help you identify placements, internships, voluntary roles and freelancing opportunities that will complement your studies.

    Placement year

    After your second year, you can do an optional work placement year to get valuable longer-term work experience in the industry.

    We’re an international university with links around the globe, including the Americas. You can get hands on with your studies by taking advantage of our partnerships:

    • Make the most of the Brockport Washington Intern Program, offering unique work experience and learning opportunities
    • Gain valuable experience and contacts from time spent working for US Senators or at leading Washington based lobby groups

    We’ll help you secure a work placement that fits your aspirations. You’ll get mentoring and support throughout the year.

    Learning support

    As well as support by faculty teaching staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University’s Academic Skills Unit (ASK).

    ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:

    • academic writing
    • note taking
    • time management
    • critical thinking
    • presentation skills
    • referencing
    • working in groups
    • revision, memory and exam techniques

    If you have a mental or physical disability, the Additional Support and Disability Centre (ASDAC) can give you help, support and advice so you can reach your potential.


    Teaching methods on this course include:

    • lectures
    • workshops
    • seminars

    There's an emphasis on interacting and learning with your peers. Most seminars and workshops consist of small groups, so you'll be able to ask questions and debate issues with confidence.

    You'll analyse primary documents and debate contemporary issues in small teams, so you'll learn from a range of opinions and interpretations.

    How you'll spend your time

    Each academic year is divided into 2 teaching blocks and 2 assessment periods:

    • September to December – teaching block 1
    • January – assessment period 1
    • January to mid-May – teaching block 2 (includes Easter break)
    • Mid-May to early June – assessment period 2

    Most teaching takes place during the day, Monday to Friday. You may occasionally need to go to University and course events in the evenings and at weekends.

    There’s usually no teaching on Wednesday afternoons.

    How you're assessed

    You’ll be assessed through:

    • essays
    • reports
    • speech writing
    • formal examinations
    • case studies
    • projects
    • presentations

    You’ll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark.

    You can get feedback on all practice and formal assessments so you can improve in the future.

    The way you’re assessed may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:

    • Year 1 students: 12% by written exams, 18% by practical exams and 70% by coursework
    • Year 2 students: 17% by written exams and 83% by coursework
    • Year 3 students: 3% by practical exams and 97% by coursework

    Entry requirements​

    Entry requirements

    ​Course costs

    Tuition fees (2019 start)

    • UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £9,250 per year (may be subject to annual increase)
    • International students – £13,900 per year (subject to annual increase)

    Additional course costs

    These course-related costs aren’t included in the tuition fees. So you’ll need to budget for them when you plan your spending.

    Additional costs

    Our accommodation section shows your accommodation options and highlights how much it costs to live in Portsmouth.

    You’ll study up to 6 units a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each unit.

    You can borrow most of these from the Library. If you buy these, they may cost up to £60 each.

    We recommend that you budget £75 a year for photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

    If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.

    You’ll need to pay the costs associated with studying abroad and or doing an overseas placement, these costs are usually around £1000.

    You’ll also need to meet any additional tuition costs for units of study you take outside of your agreed study abroad programme. This normally costs around £200.


    How to apply

    To start in 2019 you need to apply through UCAS. You’ll need:

    • the UCAS course code – T700
    • our institution code – P80

    You can start your application now and submit it later if you want.

    Not quite ready to apply?

    Come to an Open Day to explore our course facilities, tour the campus and have a look around our halls of residence.

    If you’re new to the application process, read our guide on applying for an undergraduate course.

    How to apply from outside the UK

    If you're from outside of the UK, you can apply for this course through UCAS (see the 'How to apply' section above for details). You can also apply directly to us or you can get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region.

    To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section. 

    Admissions terms and conditions

    When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.