American Studies

The United States Studies Centre coordinates the American Studies program for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney. American Studies is an interdisciplinary major incorporating units of study from the US Studies Centre and from the departments of Art History and Film Studies, English, Gender and Cultural Studies, History, and Music.

The American Studies major draws on the combined expertise of the US Studies Centre and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences to offer Australia’s broadest range of undergraduate units focused on the United States.

The program consists of two compulsory first-year units, two core senior units, and other approved units of your choice, which enable you to develop a critical, multi-faceted understanding of the United States and its global influence. It enables students to develop a broad, multi-faceted understanding of the United States, which remains the dominant cultural and political force in the twenty-first century, and has long loomed large in Australian life. Understanding the United States is critical for global citizens.

Junior Units in American Studies

  • AMST1001 Global America
    Unit description: This unit will investigate the global connectedness of the United States and how this relates to the core values and interests that define America. The primary focus will be on the United States in the 21st global century. The pedagogical aim of this unit is to provide students with analytical frames to understand the most important issues in contemporary American literature, culture, politics, society and the economy, and how they are affected by and affect the world outside the US.
  • USSC1201 America and Australia: The Issues Compared
    In this unit we explore major American social issues by comparing them with similar issues in Australia. What makes America different? How do personal rights, from gun rights to LGBTI rights, work differently in the two countries? What differences and similarities exist on issues like race and mass incarceration? How much do we either exaggerate or downplay political differences between the United States and ourselves?

Major in American Studies

For students enrolled beginning 2018
Students intending to major in American Studies must complete:

- AMST1001 Global America (offered in Semester 2)
- USSC1201 America and Australia the Issues Compared (offered in Semester 1)
- AMST2701 American Dreams (preferably in Semester 1 of their second year)
- One selective unit of study at the 2000 level in American Studies
- AMST3601 American Perspectives
- Three other selective units of study at the 3000 level in American Studies (or participating departments).

A major in American Studies requires 48 credit points from the American Studies Unit of Study table including:

- 12 credit points of 1000-level units
- 6 credit points of 2000-level core units
- 6 credit points of 2000-level selective units
- 6 credit points of 3000-level core units
- 12 credit points of 3000-level selective units
- 6 credit points of 3000-level Interdisciplinary Project units

If you commenced your degree in 2014 the major consists of two core units of study (in addition to the junior units listed above), AMST2601 American Foundations, AMST3601 American Perspectives, and four senior units of study chosen from a list of cross-listed units offered by participating departments, no more than three of which may come from a single department. If you commenced your degree prior to 2014 you can complete AMST2601 (in addition to the junior units listed above), and five senior units of study chosen from a list of cross-listed units offered by participating departments, no more than three of which may come from a single department. A major in American studies is one of the Area Studies options for students enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Advanced Studies (International and Global Studies).

The contributing departments offer more than twenty units of study focused on the United States, not all of which will be offered in any given year. Units in History and English are generally taught once every two years, ensuring students will have a wide range of choices from which to construct a major.
More details

Honours in American Studies

The fourth year Honours program consists of two American Studies seminars, and an 18-20,000 word thesis. More details.

This can be a capstone to your pursuit of American Studies at the undergraduate level, giving you an edge on other graduates with your level of expertise in a specific area of enquiry. In addition, this also acts a significant independent project to prepare graduates for the workforce, as the autonomous pursuit of information and personal setting of targets and goals makes the transition to project-based work easier. Honours in the first or second class is also a great pathway into PhD research.