University College Dublin | An Coláiste Ollscoile, Baile Átha Cliath

UCD, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland | Director: Professor Liam Kennedy

Global Irish Civic Forum
June 2015

Prospective Students

    President Clinton addresses the Institute Sept 2010

MA in American Studies

Now Accepting Applications for 2017/'18

"Doing an MA in American Studies at the Clinton Institute was one of the best decisions I have made. Each of the classes offered were interesting, engaging, and left me with a deeper understanding of American political issues. I am now putting everything I learned at the Institute to good use by working in Washington DC and so I would definitely recommend the program to anyone considering it" - NIamh Ní Aonghusa MA Class 2012/2013

This is the first postgraduate programme in America Studies in Ireland. Because of the United States' unrivaled status in the world today, the debates on American values and the mission of American democracy have become a matter of global concern. This programme introduces students to advanced study of American culture and politics, in both domestic and international contexts. It is a multidisciplinary programme that promotes study of the interactions of cultural social and political factors. It aims to deepen and widen students' knowledge of major topics and issues as well as to enable them to develop a significant measure of expertise in the subject chosen for the thesis.

The MA programme draws on the expertise of UCD faculty across a number of departments, as well as that of the Professor of American Studies and the contribution of visiting scholars.  This full time  MA is taught over two semesters and students are required to take a number of assessed modules (five of which are compulsory) in addition to completing a research dissertation of 12,000 – 15,000 words.  The MA is worth 90 credits – 60 for taught work and 30 for the dissertation.  



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Applicants for the MA should hold one of the following qualifications:

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Course Outline 2016/2017 Provisional

"The interdisciplinary aspect of the course allowed me to pursue my interests in history, economics, politics and literature.  The core modules provided a focus to these disciplines and helped me to academically explore America and its global influence.  Personally what I enjoyed the most was the eclectic mix of talks that were open to us as students. The standard of teaching is excellent and this is buttressed by the opportunity to take modules given by renowned visiting professors from prestigious US Universities" - Breffni Cummiskey 


This is a provisional list of modules that will be offered and is subject to final confirmation and scheduling arrangements. Some modules may also have a 'cap' placed on them.  Students take 60 taught credits and the remaining 30 credits is for the dissertation.


Compulsory Modules - Changes made be made to this list 

America and Globalization AMST 40010 (10 credits)

This course will explore aspects of globalization with a particular focus on the role of the United States in the development and maintenance of a new global order.  It covers key issues and debates: the transformation of state power and changing patterns of global governance; the global expansion of a market economy and issues of inequality; the globalization of media and communication; the emergence of transnational and post national cultures; the makeup of the global city; and anti-globalization and new social movements.

Foundations of American Foreign Policy AMST40300  (10 credits)

This module explores the ways in which American have thought about foreign policy over the course of the country's history.  Special emphasis will be placed upon seminal ideas and how they have been manifested in important moments in the country's foreign relations.  Concepts to be explored include isolationism, the Monroe Doctrine, Manifest Destiny, Imperialism, Wilsonianism, Internationalis and Anti-Communism.

The American Political Tradition AMST40290 (10 credits)

This module traces the evolution of American political thought and practice over time.  Special emphasis will be placed upon the many areas of continuity and linkage, and the occasional moments of discontinuity, between the various political traditions.  Students will also be encouraged to draw upon these ideas to better understand how Americas think about politics today.  Concepts to be explored include the Hamiltonian and Jeffersonian conceptions of federalism, populism, Progressivism, the New Deal, the evolution of the democratic and Republican parties and the emergence of the modern conservative movement.

American Culture AMST40410 (10 credits) 

Hegemonic but never monolithic, American culture has always been produced through intellectual, political and social conflict.  These conflicts have arisen from debates around citizenship, ever-evolving identity politics, the lasting cultural impact of America's founding, and the role of religion in forming the United States' sense of itself.  There has never been consensus on the nature of the American project, and it is in the production of culture that this becomes most apparent.  This module will proceed from an intrinsically interdisciplinary perspective, examining a range of cultural projects, historical and contemporary, from literature, film, music, architecture and visual art, journalism and new media.  It will address particular areas of generative cultural debate, from foundational conflicts around the establishment of American polity and the emancipation of marginalised or subjugated peoples, to frameworks of Cold War consumption, the prison-industrial complex, and post-millennial urban angst.

American Studies Seminar  AMST40090 (5 credits)

This seminar will focus on selected issues and themes of contemporary American Studies research, drawing on faculty and Institute-directed research projects as case studies, and provide all postgraduate students with opportunities to present working papers on their dissertation/thesis research.

American Politics Today AMST40460 (5 credits)

This module examines contemporary American politics from a variety of perspectives in order to impart a sophisticated understanding of the ways in which the system operates at the national level. Drawing upon literature from history and political science, the writings of prominent political observers, and video and social media content, the module will explore three interrelated and overarching themes. One is the fact that the United States is in a period of transition. The country is growing increasingly diverse, a fact which is celebrated by some, especially on the left, and a cause for concern among others, especially on the right. In addition, income inequality is growing and has reached levels last seen during the Gilded Age (and which would be unthinkable in other advanced nations). The possibility that American influence abroad has begun to recede fuels the uncertainty that has accompanied these changes. A second theme of the module is the problem of gridlock. Even though Americans frequently complain about the inability of their elected representatives in Washington, D.C. to accomplish anything, especially in light of the challenges facing the country, there seems to be little prospect of more cooperation anytime soon. One frequently suggested reason for this is the increased level of ideological homogeneity in the two main parties. The final theme of the module, then, will be an examination of the nature of the Democratic and Republican Parties, including the principal policy goals and political culture of each.  

Research Skills and Methods AMST40080 (10 credits)

This module will introduce students to key components of research skills and methods germane to American Studies.  These will include: interdisciplinary study methods; topics, frames and fields of study; locating and using primary and secondary sources; citation and bibliographical skills; oral and audio-visual presentation skills; and library use.

Dissertation 30 credits

Dissertation length12,000 - 15,000 words


Optional Modules - this list will change from time to time and modules are from other Schools within the College 

Foundations of US Foreign Policy 10 credits

Challenging US Foreign Policy 10 credits

The Idea of America 10 credits

Stardom and Celebrity 10 credits

Media Theory and Culture 10 credits

20th Century American Foreign Policy 10 credits

Latin American Politics 10 credits

American Theatre 10 credits

Chick Flicks 10 credits

Post Modern Writing 10 credits

Contemporary American Fiction 10 credits

19th Century American Writing 10 credits

Documentary Film 10 credits 


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Student Assessment

The Master's degree programme will be assessed by means of course work for the modules (largely by essay but this may vary) and a minor thesis of 12,000 to 15,000 words. Credit values varies for each module.

Students choose the thesis topic in consultation with the Professor of American Studies. The thesis topic will not be restricted to a specific area of the American experience and may reflect aspects of the Institute's broader research focus and academic expertise - as such, it may be supervised by the Professor of American Studies or co-supervised with another academic either within UCD

Supervisors monitor a student's individual progress and offer advice on the preparation and presentation of the thesis. The final mark for the Master's degree will be divided between the course work and the thesis.

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Teaching and Tuition

Each module tutor will provide students with documentation setting out the structure and content of the module.

Modules will normally consist of weekly two-hour seminars. These are group discussion classes where students are expected to bring up issues arising from their independent study.

Tutors will also be available to discuss individual students' written assignments.

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Fees - are relevant for 2015/2015 and may change for 2016/2017

*Fees quoted exclude Student Center levy

Course Details EU Students     Non-EU Students
MA in American Studies  Full-time  €6,290 €17900
MA in American Studies Part-time  €3,890 €8,950



Students can now apply online for the MA in American Studies, , decisions are made on a rolling basis and conditional offers can be made while waiting from your final results to be issued

The following documents should be uploaded with your application (if you are not able to upload the documents you can post them directly to the application office and quote your application number - address below

These documents should be returned to the

On Line Application Office
Tierney Building
Dublin 4

If you have any questions on the process please contact or Tel +353 1 7161560

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