Postgraduate Study


PhD/MPhil in American Studies

Empire StateWith our outstanding collection of Americana, we are pleased to offer the research degrees of MPhil and PhD on a full- or part-time basis.

In history, our principal areas of expertise include:

  • war and 20th-century American society
  • history on film
  • the Cold War era
  • America in the long 1960s
  • the African American experience during and after the Civil Rights movement
  • Mexican American history
  • Gang culture and the incarceral society

In literary and cultural studies, the main areas of research activity include:

  • Modernist and Postmodernist aesthetics
  • the racing and gendering of contemporary American culture
  • cinematic and televisual narratives
  • twentieth century visual art (painting, photography, sculpture, architecture)
  • modern American poetry
  • conspiracy culture at the turn of the millennium

Final YearThe best indication of how the interaction of our small unit works to the advantage of our students, lies in the work of our recent PhD candidates. The fertile crossing of disciplinary borders is apparent in projects such as 'How Can One Tell the Truth About My Lai?', which examined how historians, novelists, journalists, filmmakers, and the United States Army itself, have examined and sought to ‘explain' and represent the massacre that occurred in March 1968 in the Vietnamese hamlet of My Lai in Vietnam. Another recent project drew upon cultural studies, gender studies and political history to analyse the Cold War history to explore 'Masculinity and Myth in Marvel Comics, 1961-74'.

More traditional - but no less impressive - are successful doctoral analyses of 'The Republican Party and Civil Rights, 1924-1948'; 'The Representation of the Other in the Contemporary American Novel'; 'The Hollywood Horror Franchise'; 'Women Photographers of the 1930s'; 'Representations of Slavery in the novels of Paule Marshall, Ellen Gilchirst, Ellen Douglas and Gloria Naylor'; and such individual poets and novelists as Edith Wharton, Hilda Doolittle, William Carlos Williams, Frank O'Hara, Charles Bukowski, Gary Snyder, Joyce Carol Oates and Cormac McCarthy.

Many of our successful PhD candidates have gone on to become lecturers at such universities as Cambridge, Liverpool, Newcastle, Bangor, Manchester and Northumbria. Others have entered teaching, publishing, arts administration and broadcasting.

Applicants for MPhil and PhD degrees are asked to submit a detailed proposal for research (a few pages of description and a brief indicative bibliography) together with examples of their written work (approximately 5,000 words on any pertinent subject). At least two members of staff with appropriate expertise will read this material independently and confer, to ensure that proposals for research are viable from the outset. Once admitted, you are allocated a specialist as supervisor who remains responsible for your academic progress and well-being throughout the period of study. If you want to discuss ideas before drawing up a formal proposal, please contact Dr David Eldridge, Director of Studies, for further advice (

The standard fees for Home/EU students who begin studying in September 2016 are: £3,996 for a full-time standard postgraduate course; £1,998 for a part-time standard postgraduate course. Fees for International students can be found on international money page.

For details of the University's postgraduate application procedure, and links to the relevant forms, please go to

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