American Studies

The United States Studies Centre coordinates the American Studies program for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney. American Studies is an interdisciplinary major incorporating units of study from the US Studies Centre and from the departments of Art History and Film Studies, English, Government and International Relations, History, and Music. 

The major draws on the combined expertise of the United States Studies Centre and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences to offer Australia’s widest range of undergraduate units focused on the United States.

The American Studies major consists of compulsory first-year units, two core senior units, and other approved units of your choice, which enable you to develop a critical, multi-faceted understanding of the United States and its global influence.

The Centre also offers a fourth year honours program.

Careers in American Studies

The interdisciplinary nature of the American Studies major prepares students for a wide range of career options after graduation. American Studies students graduate with high-level analytical, research, and writing skills, and an exceptional ability to think critically. Potential opportunities include careers in government, NGOs, media, teaching, law, business, and academia.


Students intending to major in American Studies must complete both AMST1001 Global America (offered in semester two) and either HSTY1076 American History from Lincoln to Obama or HSTY1023 Emerging Giant: The Making of America*. After completing those units, students must complete AMST2601 American Foundations (preferably in semester one of their second year) and AMST3601 American Perspectives, along with four senior units of study offered by participating departments, no more than three of which may come from a single department.

Students who enrolled prior to 2014 should contact the course coordinator to find out the units of study required to qualify for the major.

Course coordinator: Associate Professor Brendon O’Connor

*Note: both HSTY1076 and HSTY1023 are taught in semester one; only one of these units is offered each year.

Units of Study

AMST1001 Global America
AMST2601 American Foundations
AMST2602 Regionalism and American Culture
AMST2606 Stand Up USA: American Comedy and Humour
AMST3601 American Perspectives
ARHT2614 Expand your Mind: Pollock to Psychedelia
ARHT2657 Contemporary Hollywood
ARHT2658 American Independent Cinema
ENGL2603 American Literature: Imagining America
ENGL2617 Postmodernism
ENGL2627 Screening Sexuality
ENGL2635 Contemporary American Literature
ENGL2660 Reading the Nation: Modern US Writing
ENGL2664 Transpacific American Literature 1838-99
ENGL3604 Cinematic Modernism
ENGL3656 Rethinking the Thirties
GOVT2445 American Politics and Foreign Policy
HSTY2611 America in World Affairs: A History
HSTY2656 A House Divided: The American Civil War
HSTY2662 Atlantic World in the Age of Empire
HSTY2663 American Indian Holocaust?
HSTY2666 American Revolutions
HSTY2667 Politics and Culture of US Imperialism
HSTY2670 New York, New York
HSTY2671 Law and Order in Modern America
HSTY2687 Alliance: Australia–US Relations
MUSC2666 A Global Sound: African American Music
PHIL3615 Pragmatism
USSC2601 US in the World
USSC2602 US Politics: Elections, Presidents, Laws
USSC2603 Americanism & Anti-Americanism
USSC2604 Sex, Race, and Rock in the USA
USSC3601 Public Opinion and Voting in the US


Honours in American Studies has been offered since 2012. It provides a unique opportunity to undertake an interdisciplinary research project. The varied past thesis subjects have included: the Women’s National Basketball Association, political memes, Hollywood bromances, race and fashion, religion and US foreign policy, and American exceptionalism.

The fourth year honours program consists of:

• one 3,000 word bibliographic essay related to your thesis topic
• two American Studies seminars (40% of final mark)
• a 18–20,000 word thesis (60% of final mark)

For more details please see If you are interested in honours in American Studies, please contact the Honours Coordinator Dr Aaron Nyerges to discuss your candidacy.



Each year the Centre awards the following prizes for outstanding contributions by undergraduates:

  • Best undergraduate in American Studies (final year prize based on their overall WAM) $200
  • Best Thesis Prize in American Studies (available to the best Honours thesis): $200 (a student must receive a thesis Mark of 85% or over to receive this award)
  • Best Essay in AMST2601: American Foundations: $200
  • Best Essay in AMST3601: American Perspectives: $200
  • Best Essay in AMST1001: Global America: $200
  • Best Essay in USSC3601: Public Opinion and Voting in the US: $200
  • Best in USSC2604: Sex, Race, and Rock $200
  • Best in USSC2606: Stand Up USA $200
  • Best in USSC2603: Americanism and Anti-Americanism) $200
  • Best in USSC2602: US Politics $200

  • Best in USSC2601: US in the World; $200

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