Units & Timetables 

The US Studies postgraduate program is designed to suit each student's professional and intellectual interests.

Beyond the core units, note that the list of electives is necessarily incomplete. The University of Sydney offers a rich array of units from which to choose. Students are encouraged to create a program, in consultation with the Academic Program Director, that is tailored to their specific needs.

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University of Sydney students can enrol by logging into MyUni.

If you would like to apply for cross-institutional study, you can do so through the cross-institutional study application form.

If you would like to apply for non-award study, i.e. undertake one or more units of study for interest that will not count towards a degree, you can do so through the non-degree application form.

Compulsory Core Unit

Core Units

  • USSC6902 US Politics: Presidency and Congress (S1)
  • USSC6903 US Foreign & National Security Policy (S2)
  • USSC6906 US Constitution (S1)
  • USSC6907 American Exceptionalism (S1)
  • USSC6914 Key Issues in American Culture

Electives - US Studies Centre

  • USSC6905 US Economic Policy and Regulation (S2)
  • USSC6909 The Anti-American Tradition
  • USSC6915 NEW IN 2015! Contemporary American Media (S2) 
  • USSC6916 Research Essay in US Studies (S1 or S2)
  • USSC6917 The American City
  • USSC6919 American Film & Hollywood (S1)
  • USSC6920 US Media: Politics, Culture, Technology (Winter session)

Electives - Other departments

  • ARTS7000 Academic Communication for Postgraduates*
    * Designed for international students
  • MECO6906 Literary Journalism: History and Theory
  • HSTY7000 A History of Australia-US Relations
  • SPAN7001 Citizenship and Belonging in Latino USA
  • EDPK5003 Developing a Research Project
  • WMST6903 Gender, Media & Consumer Societies
  • MKTG6013 International & Global Marketing
  • FINC6013 International Business Finance
  • CISS6001 New Security Challenges
  • CISS6007 Terrorism in the Asia-Pacific Region
  • CISS6008 Population & Security
  • CISS6011 Special Topic in International Security
  • GOVT6359 US-China Relations
  • IBUS6016 Social Entrepreneurship
  • IBUS6001 International Business Strategy
  • IBUS6002 Cross-Cultural Management
  • ARHT6916 American Art: Pollock to Warhol

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Unit Descriptions (A-Z)

USSC6901 Fundamentals of US Studies

This unit introduces students to the foundations of American politics, economics, society and culture, examining the interplay of major actors and ideas from these spheres. It will familiarise students with the variegated landscape of America through analysing contemporary issues using interactive approaches to learning. Students will survey how America's political framework either engages with or impedes social and economic actors and how these dynamics are reflected in and supported or undermined by the media and artistic expression.

Taught first three weeks of Semester 1, 2015.

USSC6902 US Politics: Presidency and Congress

This unit introduces students to US political institutions and political culture. The unit first introduces and debates key concepts in American political philosophy, including the separation of powers, republicanism and democracy. Next, the American government will be examined and analysed with special attention being paid to the “power” of the President, Congress and the States. At this stage, the American electoral system and recent presidential elections will be discussed along with the careers of American presidents from the 1960s onwards. Finally, the relationship between the Federal Government and the other major “competing centres of power” will be examined, including the military, media, race, class and the bureaucracy. By the end of the unit student should have a comprehensive understanding of American domestic politics.

Taught intensively in Semester 1, 2015.

This unit of study is cross-listed with the Master of International Studies, Master of Public Policy and Master of Public Administration.

USSC6903 US Foreign and National Security Policy

This unit will examine US foreign and security policy formulation and implementation throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It will consider US military policy, foreign economic policy, foreign energy and resource policy, policy on human rights and democracy overseas, and US responses to the proliferation of WMD and trans-national terrorism.The unit will conclude by examining US foreign and defence policy in the aftermath of 9/11, the Iraq War, and other contemporary security challenges facing the US.

Taught in Semester 2, 2015.

This unit of study is cross-listed with the Master of International Studies, Master of International Security, Master of Public Policy, Master of Peace & Conflict Studies and Master of Public Administration.

USSC6905 US Economic Policy and Regulation

This unit studies the ways in which economic and regulatory policies and institutions drive the business and social environment in the United States. Macro-economic policy, micro-economic reforms and changes to the legal framework and legal institutions have a fundamental effect on the impetus for research and development, the qualities of domestic and imported goods and services, the incentives for business and societal innovations, the extent and fairness of competition, the advancement of employment equity, the quality of education, the improvement of productivity, the attainment of social benefits and social equity, the mechanisms for rapid and equitable information transfer, the minimisation of surveillance and enforcement costs, and the equitable sharing of income and risks within US society.Previous relevant study in US politics is recommended in order to complete this unit of study.

Taught in Semester 2, 2015.

This unit of study is cross-listed with the Master of Commerce, Master of International Business and Master of Public Policy.

USSC6906 US Constitution

This unit will examine the US Constitution, a document which animates nearly all facets of contemporary American life as well as providing a blueprint for governance. It shapes the contours of speech and media and is constantly tested and reinterpreted by social actors, the judiciary, and political institutions. Drawing upon the idealism of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, never wandering too far from its revolutionary roots, attempts both a stable government and preservation of individual rights. Students will participate in lively debate about the Constitution, consistent with its importance in the American landscape.

Taught in Semester 1, 2015 by Dr Harry Melkonian.

This unit of study is cross-listed with the Master of International Studies and Master of Public Administration.

USSC6907 American Exceptionalism

Since the arrival of the first European settlers, many Americans have held the conviction that their nation was exceptional in its moral purpose and destiny. This belief has influenced almost every aspect of American society, politics and relations with the outside world. This unit revolves around a central question: To what extent, if any, is the United States of America an exceptional nation? A variety of subsidiary questions then arise:

(1) Given that the idea of exceptionalism runs right through American history from earliest colonial times to the present, is the notion of exceptionalism merely American conceit, or is the US genuinely an exceptional nation?

(2) What, exactly, is an exceptional nation?

(3) Is the US exceptional or is it just different?

(4) If it is exceptional, then in what specific ways does this exceptionalism manifest?

(5) What are the implications or consequences of exceptionalism?

(6) Whether true or not, why has the notion of exceptionalism been so strong throughout American history?

(7) To what extent and in what ways has the idea of exceptionalism shaped US history and influenced America’s relationship with the rest of the world? In short, the notion of American exceptionalism offers us a wide range of significant and challenging questions.

Taught in Semester 1, 2015 by Professor Ian Tyrrell.

This unit of study is cross-listed with the Master of International Security, Master of Peace & Conflict Studies and Master of Public Administration.

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USSC6909 The Anti-American Tradition

This unit will cover the history and origins of the anti-American tradition, exploring in detail why America is often seen by many as an uncouth, naive, and ignorant nation. It will also examine claims that Americans are particularly uninformed about other cultures, global affairs, and world geography. Various definitions of what is fairly called anti-Americanism will be explored as will strongly negative commentary on American culture, politics (particularly notable presidential administrators), and foreign policy.

This unit will be taught across four days (two weekends). The first weekend will be early in the semester. It will lay the conceptual foundations and provide a framework for analysis. Students will then be required to complete all the reading and research essay prior to the second weekend, which will be late in the semester. The second weekend will be more interactive and discussion based with students drawing upon the knowledge they have acquired across the first weekend and through independent learning in-between.

Not offered in 2015.

USSC6914 Key Issues in American Culture

This unit proposes a week-by-week engagement with some of the defining moments in US cultural history. Working from the premise that ideas in the US are cultural and political acts, the unit constructs a chart of the nation's salient (and often critical) intellectual projections. Blending written texts with works of visual art, high with 'low' culture, the course offers a close encounter with a misunderstood intellectual tradition and shows its relevance to the present.

Not offered in 2015.

This unit of study is cross-listed with the Master of Public Policy.

USSC6915 Contemporary American Media

This unit overviews current issues in American media studies, including the relationship between democracy and media production, theories of media influence, approaches to audience analysis, and trans-national media spheres. It emphasises the diversity of forms, texts and practices that make up the contemporary American media and the cultural flows between the US and the rest of the world. Examples include the press, advertising, genre television, narrative cinema, “current affairs”, popular music, radio, and gaming and Internet cultures.

Taught intensively in Semester 2, 2015 by Dr Jane Park.

USSC6916 Research Essay in US Studies

Note: Available to Master of US Studies candidates only.

Students will undertake research essay of 6,000 words on an approved topic under the guidance of a supervisor from the Centre for US Studies. Normally, the essay involves deeper study of a subject which the student has already covered in the first semester of his or her program. Entry to this unit is subject to the permission of the Director and depends upon the availability of a supervisor from the Centre, the student's existing knowledge in the area, and her or his academic performance in the preceding semester.

For more information please contact brendon.oconnor@sydney.edu.au.

USSC6917 The American City

This unit explores the concept, ideal and experience of the city in the United States. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, this course seeks to engage a variety of discourses in its exploration of the question of the city as both an imaginary and a material construct. The particularity of the American city will be examined by considering the lived experience of the city in tandem with the diverse ways in which it is conceived in and through its representation in literature, cinema, the visual arts, critical and cultural theory, urban studies and popular culture. From a study of diverse sources ranging from the fictional cityscapes of Wharton, Dos Passos and DeLillo to theoretical and experiential perspectives on the 'wounded' and post-crisis cities of NYC, Detroit and New Orleans, this course critically engages the tension between the fantasy of the city and its conflicted and oftentimes gritty reality. The American city will be discovered to be a unique, dynamic, paradoxical and profoundly influential site of human interaction and engagement.

Not offered in 2015.

This unit of study is cross-listed with the Master of Cultural Studies.

USSC6919 American Film and Hollywood

'Hollywood' has dominated American and global film industry since the inception of the great studio system in the late 1920s. Yet in spite of the genius of the system, the 1950s saw the gradual decline of the studios and a rejection of the studio ethos by a coterie of young filmmakers influenced by European cinema and the avant-garde. Examining several of the key films of the studio and post-studio era, this unit of study explores the aesthetic, political and cultural formation of the classical studio era and its aftermath – an American cinema of artistic independence and political radicalism.

Taught in Semester 1, 2015 by Dr Bruce Isaacs.

This unit of study is cross-listed with the Master of Cultural Studies.

USSC6920 US Media: Politics, Culture, Technology

This unit will focus on media coverage of political campaigns and politics in America. It will look at the role of the media in American society in shaping debates and also at the power of the American media globally. The impact of the internet on American journalism will be discussed as will the future of the media.

Taught in the Winter session 2015 by John Barron.

This unit of study is cross-listed with the Master of Media Practice, Master of Cultural Studies and Master of Peace & Conflict Studies.

MECO6906 Literary Journalism: History and Theory

This unit will give students an overview of the history, theory and practice of literary journalism, a critical understanding of key writers and genres in the field, and an opportunity to gain practical skills in this form of writing. Genres studies will include new journalism, critical review writing, essay writing, memoir, travel, popular science, and ficto-criticism.

Taught in Semester 1, 2015 by Dr Fiona Giles.

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HSTY7000 A History of Australia-US Relations

The diplomatic, political, economic and cultural power of the United States is formidable and often described or denigrated as imperial. But is it? Has it ever been? This unit considers American foreign relations in comparative perspective with past and present empires and considers why most Americans are so adamant that their nation is not an empire-builder. The scope is broad, examining foreign and domestic politics, economics and culture, past and present. 

ARTS7000 Academic Communication for Postgraduates

This unit of study is designed to support International students in developing an understanding of critical analysis and its use as an effective basis for argument. Students will be introduced to the critical and communication practices appropriate to postgraduate study in the humanities. They will develop key attributes in the areas of research and inquiry, ethical, social and professional understanding, and communication relevant to their academic studies and in preparation for their professional lives.

Taught in Semester 1 and 2, 2015 by Ms Louise Katz.

SPAN7001 Citizenship and Belonging in Latino USA

Note: Department permission required for enrolment.

Latino cultural activism emerged in response to the experiences of exclusion and invisibility faced by Latin American-origin people who have, over time, relocated to the US, frequently in search of the 'American Dream'. This history informs the questions raised by contemporary Latino Studies and subjects. The USA's large 'ethnic minority', Latinos, never a totality, show a plurality of identifications. This course uncovers, examining cultural products and social research, the complexity of that increasingly visible transnational collectivity known as Latino USA.

EDPK5003 Developing a Research Project

This core unit is seen as the foundation unit in research methods and it provides an overview of the research process, with a focus on critical evaluation of research reports and the design of research projects. It covers a wide range of basic research techniques and introduces other research methods that are the focus of more in-depth study in other search methods units. Research design issues and various methods of data collection are examined. Students explore the use of quantitative and qualitative approaches; various research strategies; observation, documents, questionnaires and assessments. The assessment in this unit is developed around students' own research interests and by the end of the unit students will have developed their own research proposal document.

Taught in Semester 1 and Semester 2, 2015 by Dr Rachel Wilson.

WMST6903 Gender, Media and Consumer Societies

This unit examines theories of consumption in regards to cultural and media products and practices. From the basis of sociology, cultural studies and gender theories, we will critically analyse different forms of belonging and identity that are created through these practices.We will also pay close attention to the critiques of globalisation and consumption, theories of the 'citizen consumer' and the realities of geo-political and economic inequalities that underpin many forms of consumption. The unit focuses on theories of culture, media and consumption, principally through the analyses of case studies.

Taught in Semester 2, 2015 by Dr Jane Park.

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MKTG6013 International and Global Marketing

This unit introduces students to international marketing using the marketing concept. It firstly considers environmental factors and then studies how marketing strategies are affected by those environmental factors. It aims to give students an awareness and understanding of international marketing concepts and highlight their importance in a rapidly changing global economy. Additionally it aims to develop student skills in designing and implementing marketing strategies in diverse international and global contexts.

Taught in Semester 1 and Semester 2, 2015.

FINC6013 International Business Finance

In our highly globalised and integrated world economy, understanding vital international dimensions of financial management is becoming increasingly essential for firms and businesses. This unit seeks to provide a greater understanding of the fundamental concepts and the tools necessary for effective financial decision making by business enterprises, within such a global setting.

Taught in Semester 1, 2015.

CISS6001 New Security Challenges

This unit considers the evolving nature of security in the context of global politics. It focuses on non-military challenges to security while acknowledging the relationships between these and traditional security concerns. Among the topics considered are: international law and security; the privatisation of security; economics and security; energy resources; environmental degradation; the burden of infectious diseases; population dynamics; gender and age perspectives on security; the dilemmas of fragile and failing states transnational organised crime; and new modes of warfare. The overall objective of the unit is to engage with issues and arguments that challenge how security is traditionally understood. Teaching and learning take place via a combination of lectures, student-led seminars, debates and case studies.

Taught in Semester 2, 2015 by Adam Kamradt-Scott.

CISS6011 Special Topic in International Security (Cyber Security)

What is the cyber realm, and how do governments, militaries and the private sector interact in it? What do we mean by cyber security and who is responsible for it? What are the major threats faced in the cyber realm and how to they impact the way we govern, do business and interact with each other? Are we prepared for cyber war? This unit will explore these questions and more as we discuss the vulnerabilities of the internet and the cyber realm. The next big attack could very well take on a different form than that which we are used to. Instead of guns and bombs, we could see the denial of essential services through the crippling of computer networks, the introduction of a virus that disables weapons and industries. This unit is offered by CISS in conjunction with the School of Information Technologies.

Taught in Semester 2, 2015 by James Der Derian.

GOVT6359 US-China Relations

This unit introduces students to the dynamics of US-China relations, regarded by many as the most significant bilateral relationship in the world. The unit aims to give an overview of the history of US-China relations, to deepen the students' understanding of the strategic thinking and policy-making of both China and the US, and to discuss a number of key contemporary issues in the relationship in some detail. This bilateral relationship has arguably become the most complex and challenging for both Washington and Beijing.

Taught in Semester 1, 2015 by Jingdong Yuan and Linda Jakobson.

CISS6007 Terrorism in the Asia-Pacific Region

The unit will begin by providing a conceptual framework for understanding the phenomenon of terrorism as a form of asymmetrical warfare waged by political actors including an examination of the impact that the end of the Cold War has had on the rise of religiously inspired terrorism. In doing so, common misconceptions will be challenged, highlighting the rationality that drives terrorist behaviour and strategies. With a focus on the Asia-Pacific region, the unit will analyse terrorist organisational structures, including leadership, ideologies, motivations, capabilities, strategies, tactics and targets. Equipped with this knowledge, students will consider effective counter-terrorism strategies, including practical considerations for protecting critical functions of the state and private sector.

CISS6008 Population and Security

This unit considers the importance of demographic factors in international security. It attempts to provide answers to the complex questions regarding how population changes affect security concerns. In particular it examines how population dynamics and characteristics such as growth rates, fertility, mortality, age and ethnic structure might be linked to national and international security. Among topics covered will be key global population trends, differing world population transitions, the significance of resource scarcity and environmental degradation, the role of natural disasters, and the significance of ethnic and religious divisions. Case studies will be presented with respect to how demographics may contribute to undermining the viability of modern states and the importance of population to security considerations in the Asia-Pacific region.

Taught in Semester 2, 2015 by Peter Curson.

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IBUS6016 Social Entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurs are committed to furthering a social mission through enterprises that rank social, environmental or cultural impact on a par with, or even above, profit. Intersecting the business and not-for profit worlds, social entrepreneurship addresses many complex local and global problems. This unit will critically introduce the concept and develop frameworks for understanding social entrepreneurship (also referred to as social enterprise and social innovation). Teaching and learning will utilise case studies, and include the opportunity to apply real-world experiences. Topics will include creating innovative social enterprises, sustainable business models, philanthropy and funding, impact assessment, and leadership.

Taught in Semester 1, 2015.

IBUS6001 International Business Strategy

This unit analyses how multinational firms leverage their capabilities and competencies to create competitive advantages in international and global markets. Topics include assessing foreign market attractiveness; understanding the impact of differences in legal, cultural, political and economic regimes; evaluating international political and economic risk; building and operating global networks, including entry mode choice; understanding how managers design organisational architecture and implement internal control and incentive mechanisms; and assessing the challenges of global citizenship, ethical behaviour and social responsibility for international business. Problem-based learning, with case study workshops, is an integral part of the program.

Taught in Semester 1 and Semester 2, 2015.

IBUS6002 Cross-Cultural Management

An understanding of cultural differences and how to manage such differences is critical to effective management in international and multi-cultural business environments. The aim of this unit of study is to provide conceptual frameworks and evidence from practice that will develop an understanding of the ways in which cultures differ, how these differences can impact on management, and how cultural issues can limit organisational effectiveness. Major topics include the significance of culture in international management, the meaning and dimensions of culture, comparative international management and leadership styles, managing communication across cultures, ethics and social responsibility in global management, cross-cultural negotiation and decision-making, forming and managing global teams, and developing the international and global manager.

Taught in Semester 1 and Semester 2, 2015.

ARHT6916 American Art: Pollock to Warhol

This unit will offer an intensive look at American art from the end of WWII to the close of the radical decade of the 1960s. With the rise of Jackson Pollock and other Abstract Expressionists, American art and the criticism of Clement Greenberg set the international art agenda. The crisis in formalism and the dissenting movements of Pop, Performance, Minimal and Conceptual art will be examined against the context of the 60s counterculture.

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