About America: Prophecy, Power, Politics

The course will provide a conceptual overview of major issues in contemporary and historical American society, politics, and culture. As the partisan divide in American politics demonstrates, the United States is a nation deeply divided by disagreements over: the role and size of government; religion and the separation of church and state; foreign policy and the nation’s role in the global order; and the balance of individual liberties with collective justice.

The course is designed to give students the conceptual tools, research skills and critical methodologies they can apply to understanding contemporary political and policy debates - global, American, and Australian. It will complement other HSC subjects in the humanities and political sciences regardless of whether they have an American focus - and will provide excellent preparation for humanities and political science at the university level.

The benefits

Stuents at the Unites States Studies Centre
  • Knowledge and understanding of the United States and its impact on the world.
  • Contextual knowledge that will enrich topics in the HSC Modern History syllabus.
  • Skills in oral and written expression of conceptually difficult ideas and independent critical thinking. These skills will prove useful for other essay-based HSC subjects and debating.
  • After successful completion of the course, students will gain one subject (a six credit point semester-length unit of study) towards a degree in Arts or other combined degree programs at the University of Sydney.
  • The course fee is approximately one-third of the full fee rate for one subject (a six credit point Arts unit of study) at the University of Sydney. Students who gain admission to a degree – which this subject can be credited toward - will not incur a HECS debt or be liable for the full fee for this subject.

How is this course recognised?

America: Prophecy, Power, Politics is endorsed as a one-unit option. The course is recognised by the Board of Studies as a Year 11 preliminary unit and forms part of a student’s final HSC record. Board Endorsed Courses are designed for high-achieving students to supplement and extend the HSC curriculum, though the results in these courses are not included in the calculation of the Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR). The result for America: Prophecy, Power, Politics will appear on a student’s Record of Achievement and is worth one subject toward an undergraduate degree at the University of Sydney.

Session times

Contact hours: 1 x 1 hour lecture and 1 x 2 hour tutorial each week

Time: 4.00 – 7.00pm each Tuesday throughout Semester 1 (3 March – 2 June 2015)

Location: University of Sydney campus, Darlington (exact venue TBC)

Course outline

The course consists of the following core modules:

  • Prophecy: This module introduces and examines foundational and enduring American beliefs including American exceptionalism, the frontier, Manifest Destiny, the American dream, and freedom and equal opportunity for all.
  • Power: This module discusses America as both a nation and an empire. It considers the rise of American imperialism and expansion; the migration and movement of peoples; borders, security, media, and technology.
  • Politics: This module discusses the impact of the founding ideas of republicanism, liberalism, and democracy on responses to economic crises, using the GFC and connecting it back to the Great Depression. It analyses the battles over the separation of church and state, and the relationship between conservatism, religion, and politics.


  • Research essay 50% (including essay proposal and annotated bibliography)
  • Exam 30%
  • Group presentation and class participation 20%

Who should apply?

Any student who has an interest in the topics covered and the ability and aptitude to undertake university-level study is welcome to apply. Only students who will commence Year 11 or Year 12 in 2015 may apply to enrol in the course.

How to apply

Applications for 2015 close at 5pm on Friday 31 January 2015.

  1. Download our step-by-step instructions on how to apply (PDF)
  2. To complete the online application you will need the following:
    a. Supplementary Application Form (PDF)
    Your parent or guardian and school principal will need to complete sections of this form. Once completed it will be uploaded to the online application system.
    b. A copy of your most recent school report
    This will be uploaded to the online application system.
    c. A form of photo ID such as your passport photo page or student ID card
    This will be uploaded to the online application system.
  3. Once you have this information please visit Sydney Student to apply online
  4. Submit your application by 5pm on Friday 31 January 2015
  5. Updates about your application will be sent by email after applications close so please make sure you regularly check the email address you provide on the application form during this time.

If you have an enquiry regarding the application process please email .


Applicants will be selected by the course convener on the basis of their past academic record and school Principal’s recommendation of their capacity to meet the demands of the course. This takes into account a candidate’s potential to work at a university-level and their ability to work both in a team and independently.


Offers will be sent out to successful applicants by 27 November 2014. Students will need to accept their offer by 4 December 2014 and finalise payment by 31 January 2015.


The cost of America: Prophecy, Power, Politics in 2015 is $775. In 2015 the University’s Student Services and Amenities (SSA) fee will be $107.24* (charged at part-time student rate). The total fee of $882.24* is payable once you are accepted and enrolled into the course. See information about available scholarships below.

*Please note fees are indicative and subject to change.


The United States Studies Centre is offering two scholarships: one merit scholarship to a student with an outstanding academic record and one equity scholarship to a student who can demonstrate financial hardship and/or educational disadvantage. All students will be considered for a merit scholarship based on their principal’s report and school report. If students wish to be considered for an equity scholarship please email a statement addressing financial hardship and/or educational disadvantage to .

For more information

Dr Rodney Taveira
T +61 2 9114 2617