University of Sydney Handbooks - 2021 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.

Learning outcomes

No. Learning outcome
1 Exhibit a deep knowledge of the history, culture, society, economy, and politics of the United States.
2 Incorporate knowledge, experience, and practice in the study of the U.S. through formulating and testing new interpretations and proposing evidence-based explanations.
3 Explain important ideas and evidence in the analysis of the U.S. to diverse groups via strategies of communication that acknowledge the diverse backgrounds and experiences of audiences.
4 Identify an analytic problem in the study of the United States and devise research and presentation strategies that employ the methodologies of multiple disciplines and forms of communication.
5 Construct and deliver an original evidence-based argument in the interpretation of the United States in written, oral, visual, or digital form.
6 Utilize the multidisciplinary training of American Studies to critically bridge distinct disciplinary and popular understandings of diverse phenomena.
7 Approach and analyse challenges in research, professional life, and citizenship at local, national, and global levels with principle, conscientiousness, and rigor.
8 Develop ethical structures of academic and evidence-based research and analysis by effectively working in concert with diverse peoples and modes of inquiry.


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

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.

Contacts and further information

Further information and current academic coordinators can be found on the United States Studies Centre website.

Example pathways

American Studies major

Year One

1000 Level Units of Study

Sem 1

Core unit: AMST1001 Global America

Sem 2

1000 level American Studies selective unit

Year Two

2000 Level Units of Study

Sem 1

Core unit: AMST2701 American Dreams

Sem 2

2000 level American Studies selective unit

Year Three

3000 Level Units of Study

Sem 1

3000 level American Studies major selective unit

3000 level American Studies major selective unit

Sem 2

Core unit: AMST3601 American Perspectives

AMST3999 Interdisciplinary Impact unit