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Unit of study_

AMST3601: American Perspectives

Semester 2, 2020 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This capstone unit will discuss key texts from Politics, History, English, Film Studies, and Music to critically examine the ways the United States has been idealised as exceptional - as democracy, utopia, and empire. Students will study works ranging from de Tocqueville's Democracy in America to the film Birth of a Nation with the aim of developing a critical appreciation of both classic and contemporary debates about American society. The unit will conclude with a discussion of the ways American Studies as a field deals with these long standing debates in innovative and challenging ways.

Unit details and rules

Unit code AMST3601
Academic unit United States Studies Centre
Credit points 6
12 Senior Credit Points in American Studies including AMST2601 or 12 credit points at 2000 level in American Studies
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Aaron Nyerges,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Research Essay
Students will present a capstone research paper at end of semester
40% Formal exam period 3500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3 LO4
Online task Seminar Discussion Activity
Student post reading questions on discussion board.
20% Multiple weeks 3 times, throughout semester
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO2
Assignment Draft Workshop
Students will present 1000 word draft of research essay for peer workshop
20% Week 08 1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2
Presentation Research Project Presentaion
Students present on their research project in final week.
20% Week 13 10 minute, 750 word equivalent
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO4

Assessment summary

3 x 250wd seminar discussion activity (20%)

1 x 1000wd Research paper workshop draft (20%)

1 x 3500wd Research paper (40%)

1 x 750wd equiv presentation (20%)

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.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

The Assessment Procedures 2011 provide that any written work submitted after 11:59pm on the due date will be penalised by 5% of the maximum awardable mark for each calendar day after the due date. If the assessment is submitted more than ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded. However, a unit of study may prohibit late submission or exclude late penalties only if expressly stated below.

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 The Contemporary Scene, Part I Online class (2 hr) LO2 LO4
Week 02 The Contemporary Scene, Part II Online class (2 hr) LO2 LO4
Week 03 Regional beginnings: New England Online class (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Week 04 Regional Beginnings: Virginia Online class (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Week 05 Problems of Political Tradition Online class (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 06 Problems of Culture and Self Online class (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 07 Problems of Race, Racism and Identity Online class (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 08 Problems of Gender, Sexuality and Feminism Online class (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 09 Draft Workshop Online class (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 10 Problems of Technology, Labour and Freedom Online class (2 hr) LO2 LO4
Week 11 The Contemporary Scene, Part III Online class (2 hr) LO2 LO4
Week 12 Presentation Online class (2 hr) LO2 LO4

Attendance and class requirements

  • 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. develop a better 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. develop a capacity for experimental and problem-solving tasks on the borders between disciplines develop a greater ability to pursue genuinely interdisciplinary methodologies in other units
  • LO4. 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.

Following from previous iterations of the unit, the course has been substantively revised to take into account evolving student interests and concerns, particularly with present day politics and culture, as well as streamline the essay and evaluation process.


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.