Masters in American Studies

[please note this programme will not be offered in 2021-22]

‘It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.’ Henry David Thoreau

American Studies stands apart from many degree programmes because it combines a number of subjects, such as history, literature politics, music and media studies, in order to explore the United States and its society and culture. Thus students can explore connections between literature, history, politics, music, film and other disciplines in order to understand better the nature and development of the pre-eminent super power of the twentieth century.

As well as drawing on a wide range of subjects, American Studies is also interdisciplinary, making connections between subjects and approaches. For example, students might read fiction and study movies in a course on the Vietnam War. Students are able to shape their own curriculum through the courses they choose, and in their dissertations.

Understanding what has shaped the United States helps us to make sense of our contemporary world, looking beyond the myths and clichés to explore less familiar aspects of American society and culture. Students will become familiar with a broad array of sources and approaches, learning a more holistic approach and multi-disciplinary skills which will be of use in a wide variety of careers.

For more information about why students take American Studies degrees in Britain, see Discover American Studies, an online resource developed by the British Association for American Studies.

Programme overview

The MLitt in American Studies may be taken full-time over one academic session or part-time over two sessions.

  • During the first semester all students take the American Studies Core Course A (40 credits), “Approaches to American Studies.” Core Course A is a seminar course taught in the first semester, with weekly meetings led by participating staff and the Course Convenor.  Each student writes two essays.
  • Throughout the first and second semesters students take the American Studies Core Course B, ‘Topics and Methods in American Studies’ module (20 credits).  This is based around the Hook Centre’s series of visiting speakers – who are all leading national (and sometimes international) figures in American Studies.  Students keep a journal detailing their developing understanding of, and reflections upon, American Studies as an academic discipline throughout this series. 
  • During the first and second semester students choose three optional modules (20 credits each). The courses available vary year-by-year, with American-focused or comparative courses in History, Literature, Film Studies, Music, Politics and other subject areas.
  • Students write a 15,000 word dissertation on a topic of their own choosing, under the supervision of an appropriate academic advisor.

Students will enjoy access to the extensive printed and digital collections of Glasgow University Library, including the Sir Denis Brogan Center for Research in American History, and the extensive media collections of Theatre, Film and TV Studies. The Mitchell Library in Glasgow, and the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh provide further resources.

Funding opportunities

Each year the Gordon Endowment for American Studies provides several full or partial fees-only scholarships for postgraduate students in American Studies. Further information. More information on the Gordon Scholarships.

Other funding opportunities can be found on the College of Arts & Humanities Graduate School webpages.

Further information, and applications

For further information on the MLitt course please email
More information on the application process can be found on our postgraduate webpages.