American Studies

American Studies is an interdisciplinary program incorporating units of study taught by the Departments of English, Film Studies, History, Government and International Relations and Music, and by the United States Studies Centre.

About the major

American Studies is a unique multi- and interdisciplinary field that examines the history, culture, society and politics of the United States.

Units in the major examine why the United States is a dominant cultural and political force in the twenty-first century. From the study of America’s government to its popular culture, students will be challenged to think creatively about the construction and meaning of American identity and power.

An American Studies major will give you broad, multi-faceted knowledge of this complex, diverse and dynamic nation.

In the major you will analyse the United States using a variety of different approaches. In addition to core American Studies units, you can take cross-listed units of study from the Departments of English, Film Studies, History, Government, and Music, and from the United States Studies Centre.

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences has the largest concentration of academics working on the United States, and the widest range of units of study focused on the United States, of any university in Australia.

Pathway through the major

A major in American Studies requires 36 senior credit points, including at least 6 credit points from core units of study at 2000 level and at least 6 credit points at 3000 level.

The units of study for the major can be found in the unit of study table for American Studies. The table shows units of study on offer in the current handbook year. You may find information regarding a full list of units of study available to the major on the departmental website.

Junior units of study (1000 level)

In your first semester you will complete either HSTY1023 Emerging Giant: The Making of America OR HSTY1076 American History from Lincoln to Clinton. In second semester you complete AMST1001: Global America.

Senior units of study (2000 and 3000 level)

As part of the American Studies major you must complete the core senior-intermediate (2000 level) unit, AMST2601 American Foundations. You must also complete the compulsory senior-advanced (3000 level) unit, AMST3601 Perspectives on America. Entry into AMST3601 requires prior completion of at least 24 credit points of senior units of study.

The remaining 24 credit points required for the major will come from the selection of elective units of study listed in the American Studies unit of study table. A maximum of 18 credit points can be taken from any one elective subject area.

Sample pathway
Sample Pathway - American Studies major
First Year S1

HSTY1023 or HSTY1076

Junior unit Junior unit Junior unit
S2 AMST1001 Junior unit Junior unit Junior unit
Second Year S1 AMST2601 (Compulsory) Senior unit Senior unit Senior unit
S2 Senior American Studies elective unit Senior American Studies elective unit Senior unit Senior unit
Third Year S1 Senior American Studies elective unit Senior unit Senior unit Senior unit
S2 AMST3601 (Compulsory) Senior American Studies elective unit Senior unit Senior unit

The fourth year Honours program consists of an American Studies seminar, one other seminar chosen in consultation with the American Studies coordinator, from the American-focused fourth year seminars taught in English, Film Studies, Government and International Relations, and History, and an 18-20,000 word interdisciplinary thesis.

To qualify for an Honours year in American Studies, you must complete AMST2601 and AMST3601 as well as a further 36 senior credit points. Only 18 of these credit points can come from any one Department or Centre.

Please note: from 2015 the minimum requirement for entry into Honours will increase to an average of 70% or above across 48 senior credit points in the intended subject area/s.

Contact/further information

United States Studies Centre website:
Program Coordinator
Associate Professor Brendon O'Connor
United States Studies Centre
+61 2 9036 9206