AMS-10022 - A Beginner's Guide to Contemporary America
Coordinator: David T Ballantyne Tel: +44 1782 7 34409
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 4
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office: 01782 733147

Programme/Approved Electives for 2018/19


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2018/19

What is the United States really like, and how did it become that way? Though a nation of universalistic promises¿all men being created equal for starters¿the reality of the American experience has proven more complicated. With the election of Barack Obama as president followed by Donald Trump, how should we square these grand democratic promises with the obvious contemporary contradictions? This module will introduce students to major themes driving recent U.S. history, including race, religion, class, immigration, and gender. We will explore this society from the perspective of historical documents, written texts, audio, and video to introduce key themes affecting the American past and present.

To introduce students to the range of topics and the various disciplinary and multi-disciplinary approaches available within American Studies, while introducing core research, writing and transferable skills, preparing students for a range of other modules (particularly New York, New York).

Talis Aspire Reading List
Any reading lists will be provided by the start of the course.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Demonstrate a recognition of the range of topics (such as national identity and cultural diversity) and disciplinary approaches (literary, historical and political) within American Studies. will be achieved by assessments: 01, 02
Develop core reading materials and seminar discussion into portfolio entries based on exercises specified in module document. will be achieved by assessments: 02
Relate discrete topics and various disciplinary approaches together within an essay format. will be achieved by assessments: 01
Develop basic skills of analysis, evaluation and synthesis when dealing with complex and often controversial contemporary material. will be achieved by assessments: 01, 02
Develop basic time management skills by producing properly-researched, reasoned assignments (portfolio and essay) on time. will be achieved by assessments: 01, 02

Study hours

10 x 1-hour lectures
11 x 1 hour seminars
129 hours class, essay and exam preparation

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Essay weighted 60%
2,000-word essay
Essay topics encourage students to link together the discrete topics developed in the module blocks, while developing writing skills for use in essays for other modules (such as New York, New York).

2: Portfolio weighted 40%
1,000 word portfolio
Module topics involve a number of specific exercises throughout the semester; students compile portfolio entries and submit portfolio towards the end of the semester.