University of Sydney Handbooks - 2020 Archive

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American Studies

About the major

American Studies is a multidisciplinary field that examines the United States in a global context. A major in American Studies allows students to appreciate the diversity of American society and the complexity of American identity. It provides an understanding of how the US has shaped the world and how the world has shaped the US.

The curriculum includes the study of media, foreign policy, history, economics, politics, and culture, providing a concentrated experience in the arts and social sciences. Undertaking a major in American Studies covers a wide range of units of study, supported by the largest concentration of US-focused scholars in the southern hemisphere.

Requirements for completion

Requirements for the major and minor in American Studies are listed in the American Studies unit of study table.

First year

In the first year, students will be introduced to US politics and culture from international and comparative perspectives. Students will engage with the influence of contemporary America and its major institutions and issues, as well as gain a fluency in some of the key themes of American Studies, such as race, gender, globalisation, sexuality, imperialism, and technology.

Second year

In the second year, students will draw together the multidisciplinary threads of American Studies to understand the contradictory richness of America’s cultural and political histories. They will advance their understandings of the US (and its role in the world) from a variety of methodological angles, including the analysis of foreign policy, the interpretation of cultural artefacts, and the application of critical theories within the intellectual tradition of American Studies.

Students also have the opportunity to select US-related units of study offered across the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

Third year


Upon completing a Bachelor’s degree, students can pursue a year-long research program that involves the production of an 18,000-20,000 word thesis. Previous honours students have researched such diverse subjects as: voting behaviour and inequality, labour relations in the NFL, political memes, Hollywood bromances, race and fashion, third wave feminism and zines, and the US-led occupation of Iraq.

As part of Honours, students attend two seminars - AMST4115 American Studies: Theory and Practice, and AMST4112 Cultural Capital: Kant to Kardashian.

Honours admission requirements
If you commenced your degree prior to 2018: Admission to honours requires a major in American Studies with an average of 70% or above or approval of the Program Coordinator.

If you commenced your degree in or after 2018:
- Admission to honours is via the Bachelor of Advanced Studies and requires the completion of a major in American Studies with an average of 70% or above or approval of the Program Coordinator.
- Prior to commencing Honours, you will need to ensure you have completed all other requirements of the Bachelor of Arts or other bachelor degree, including Open Learning Environment (OLE) units and a second major.

Requirements and units of study for honours can be found on the American Studies honours unit of study page.

Contact and further information

Further information can be found at the United States Studies Centre website.

The Undergraduate and Honours Coordinator is Dr Rodney Taveira.
Phone: 02 9114 2612

Example pathways

American Studies major

Year One

1000 Level Units of Study

Sem 1

1 x 1000-level AMST or USSC Unit.  USSC1201 America and Australia: the issues compared or AMST1202 Hashtag America: Media, Technology, Industry

Sem 2

1 x 1000-level AMST or USSC Unit AMST1001 Global America or USSC1602 US Politics, Presidents, Elections and Laws

Year Two

2000 Level Units of Study

Sem 1

1 x Senior core 2000-level unit AMST2701 American Dreams

Sem 2

 1 x Senior 2000-level USSC2601 US in the world: Policies and Strategies, or AMST2606 Stand Up USA: US Comedy and Humour

Year Three

3000 Level Units of Study

Sem 1

Any AMST or USSC 3000-level unit

Any AMST or USSC 3000-level unit

Sem 2

1 x Senior core 3000-level unit AMST3601 American Perspectives

AMST3999 Interdisciplinary Impact unit