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MA in American Studies

Full Time (Z043) Part Time (Z140) APPLY

“Doing an MA in American Studies at the UCD 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 programme to anyone considering it” – Niamh Ní­ Aonghusa

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 dissertation. 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.


Our graduate work in a varies of area and include:

IT, NGOs, Public and Civil Service, Communications, Banking, Teaching and  Media


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

  • A first class or second class, grade 1 degree
  • A US or Canadian degree with a GPA of 3.5
  • If an applicant doesn’t meet the normal entry requirement of a Level 8 degree, in exceptional circumstances they would normally present another qualification or award along with extensive work experience in order to be considered.


The MA curriculum is kept under review and modules may change from year to year. This is a 90 credit programme, of which 60 credits come from taught modules and 30 from a dissertation. 50 credits are from core modules and the remaining 10 from a list of options available through other Schools.

This is a provisional list of core modules and are subject to final confirmation. Each module tutor will provide students with documentation setting out the structure and content of the module. 10 credit modules 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.

America and Globalisation AMST40010 (10 credits)

This course will explore aspects of globalisation 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 globalisation of media and communication; the emergence of transnational and post national cultures; the makeup of the global city; and anti-globalisation and new social movements.

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 and 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-industry complex, and post-millennial urban angst.

The American Political Tradition AMST40290 (10 credits)

This module traces the evolution of American political taught 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 Americans think about politics today. Concepts to be explored include the Hamiltonion 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.

The Foundation of US Foreign Policy AMST40300 (10 credits)

This module explores the ways in which Americans 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, Internationalism, and Anti-Communism.

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, the video and social media content, the module will explore three interrelated and overarching themes. One is the fact that the US is in a period of transition, growing increasingly diverse. In addition is the increase in income inequality. The possibility that American influence abroad has begun to recede fuels the uncertainty that has accompanied these changes. The second theme of the module is the problem with gridlock, the inability of elected representatives to accomplish anything, especially in light of challenges facing the country, there seems to be little prospect of more cooperation anytime soon. The final theme of the module will be an examination of the nature of the Democratic and Republican parties, including the principal policy goals and political culture of each.

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 research .

Research Skills and Methods AMST40480 (10 credits)

This course is designed to provide Masters and new PhD students with skills essential to the preparation and production of a postgraduate thesis. It will present the necessary tools for postgraduate research and develop associated skills such as the presentation of written and oral work to peers and scholars. It will also introduce students to methodology and the nature of interdisciplinary study.

Dissertation AMST40150 (30 credits)

This thesis is based upon independent student research on a topic agreed with the Institute supervisor. Supervisors monitor student’s individual progress and offer advice on the preparation and presentation of the dissertation. It should be between 12,000 and 15,000 words. On completion of the thesis students should be able to: identify source material for research; carry out independent research and analysis; present research in a persuasive format; show knowledge of debates germane to the field of study;; develop skills of critical analysis and argument.

Example of optional modules this will change from year to year.

  • The Idea of America
  • Stardom and Celebrity
  • Media Theory and Culture
  • Post Modern Writing
  • American Theatre
  • Chick Flicks
  • Contemporary American Fiction
  • 19th Century American Writing
  • Documentary Film
  • Latin American Politics
  • Foundations of US Foreign Policy

Assessment may vary depending on the module but it is largely done by end of term essay in addition to class presentation and/or minor essay during the semester


The fees quoted exclude the student centre levy

                                                                                 EU Students  Non-EU Students

MA American Studies Full-Time                                   €6,885                €18,700

MA American Studies Part-Time                                  €4,130                €9,350

The Institute offers a limited number of Scholarships (reduction on fees) to non EU students.

UCD Fees


Students apply online at www.ucd.ie/apply and decisions are made on a rolling basis. A conditional offer can be made if you are still waiting in your final exam results .

The following documents should be uploaded with your application. In addition to completing the application form you will need the following:

  • Two academic references.
  • A person statement (700 – 1000 words) of interest and or experience relevant to the programme
  • A 300 word dissertation proposal. You should outline the subject or topic that you are currently interested in researching and writing on. You can change your mind once you have started the programme.
  • Academic transcripts (UCD students do not need to upload these)
  • Copy of ID (eg. passport or driving licence)
  • Applicants whose native language is not English must provide a IELTS, TOEFL or Cambridge certificate of proficiency in English. It is expected that should will normally have reached an overall 7 (IELTS) with no section less than 6.

Once a student has accepted a place on the programme they will have to submit all the original documents (hard copies) to:

On-Line Application Office,Tierney Building, UCD, Belfield, Dublin 4

If you have any questions on the process please contact – Catherine.Carey@ucd.ie or

Tel. +353 1 7161560