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Unit of study_

AMST2701: American Dreams

Semester 1, 2020 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit introduces students to the complex richness of 'Americanness' and prepares them for the Major in American Studies. Divided into historically grounded modules (Race; Religion; Gender; Politics; Region), the unit will approach each from a variety of angles: the historiographical, the literary, the cultural, the political, the cinematic. It will open lines of interrelation between historical and imaginary forms in the construction and ongoing redefinition of the United States.

Unit details and rules

Unit code AMST2701
Academic unit United States Studies Centre
Credit points 6
18 Junior credit points or 12 credit points at 1000 level in American Studies
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Rodney Taveira,
Guest lecturer(s) Aaron Nyerges,
Simon Jackman,
David Smith,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Research essay
60% Formal exam period 2500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Participation Tutorial participation notes
10% Multiple weeks 800wd equivalent
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2
Assignment Reading response
30% Week 06 1500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO2

Assessment summary

  • Reading reponse: Submitted work based on either the race module or the religion module, using prescribed readings and responding to one of two given statements. 
  • In-class presentation: With two or three classmates, you will “perform” the intersection of two of the modules in a 5-10 minute presentation.
  • Research essay: Based on questions that will be distributed during semester. There will be the opportunity for students to formulate their own research questions, in consultation with the unit coordinator.
  • Tutorial participation notes: Each week, you are expected to write a half-page of notes, or roughly five questions or points that trigger further discussion about ideas, issues, or events related to the weekly readings. Your tutor will collect notes in three selected weeks (not identified in advance) for assessment.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 02 The sociology of American religion and the politics of persecution Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Race 1: history and race relations Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 04 Race 2: Harriet Jacobs - Incidents in the life of a slave girl Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 05 Native America and American foundations Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 06 Politics 1: polling, elections, big data Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 07 Gender 1: American studies and feminisms Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 08 Gender 2/Ethnicity 1: Hispanic America Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 09 Gender 3/Ethnicity 2: gender, intersectionality and Asian America Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 10 Work on group presentations Independent study (3 hr)  
Week 11 Region 1: regional identities Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 12 Region 2: south by north Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 13 Conclusions Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

COVID-19 Announcement:

This unit will now be taught online. Zoom will replace regularly scheduled class time and / or consultations. Recordings will be made available to students and accessibility needs will be considered. 

  • Attendance: According to Faculty Board Resolutions, students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences are expected to attend 90% of their classes. If you attend less than 50% of classes, regardless of the reasons, you may be referred to the Examiner’s Board. The Examiner’s Board will decide whether you should pass or fail the unit of study if your attendance falls below this threshold.
  • Lecture recording: Most lectures (in recording-equipped venues) will be recorded and may be made available to students on the LMS. However, you should not rely on lecture recording to substitute your classroom learning experience.
  • Preparation: Students should commit to spend approximately three hours’ preparation time (reading, studying, homework, essays, etc.) for every hour of scheduled instruction.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. demonstrate an understanding of the ways in which literary, cinematic and historical texts and events influence one another in the construction of national identity
  • LO2. display an understanding of the concepts, narratives and methods used by different disciplines to study the United States
  • LO3. demonstrate a capacity for experimental and problem-solving tasks on the borders between disciplines
  • LO4. display a greater ability to pursue genuinely interdisciplinary methodologies in other units
  • LO5. communicate knowledge in discussion and scholarly writing.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Students have been given extra class time to prepare for their group presentations. I have also changed some of the readings.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.