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BA American History

Why we're great

  • We have consistently high levels of student satisfaction and our research is renowned.
  • You can choose from a unique and diverse range of topics, periods and countries.
  • We offer financial assistance for voluntary work at local museums, archives and heritage sites.

Course options2017-18

UCAS code: VT27
Duration: 3 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: History
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £13,350
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

UCAS code: VT2R
Duration: 4 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: History
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £13,350
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 873666
Email admit@essex.ac.uk

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About the course

History is not only about understanding the past. It also teaches us about the present – about the memories, landscapes, social injustices, ideologies and revolutions which have created the present day.

Our BA American History allows you to begin unravelling the complexities of American culture, politics and society through exploring US history right from the early settlements, through the Civil War, up until the civil rights, women’s and youth movements of the 1950s and 60s; as well as Latin American history from the Conquest through civil wars, to post-war politics.

You study topics including:

  • The origins and consequences of the Cold War
  • Communist revolution in Latin America
  • The conquest of Latin America
  • The American Revolution
  • Slavery and its demise

We are at the cutting edge of US and Latin American history, so you also benefit from the research being undertaken by our expert staff. We are currently investigating links between the Afro-Brazilian martial art Capoeira, and the combat games of South Angola – truly ground-breaking research, since fieldwork in Angola was difficult to conduct until the end of the civil war in 2003.

More broadly, our Department of History has developed a strong research and teaching profile, with most of our research rated as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (REF 2014).

At Essex we’re about social conscience, wondering why, and understanding the bigger picture. We teach you to find your own critical voice, and to view history through the eyes of ordinary people, giving them the voice they often lacked at the time.

Study abroad

Your education extends beyond our University campus. We support you extending your education by offering you an additional year at no extra cost. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend your third year studying abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.

Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.

We have exchange partners in the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, the Middle East, Hong Kong and Japan.

Placement year

When you arrive at Essex, you can decide whether you would like to combine your course with a placement year. You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and our Employability and Careers Centre.

Our expert staff

Our staff are among world leaders in their field, and our enthusiasm for our subject is infectious. We welcome you into our scholarly community, and value your views.

Key teaching staff for this course include Dr Laila Haidarali, whose current research examines the construction of African American women’s gendered public identities in the pre-civil rights era, and Professor Matthias Röhrig Assunção, who specialises in the history of slavery and post-emancipation societies, the political history of Brazil, popular culture in Latin America, and combat games and martial arts in the ‘Black Atlantic’.

In the rest of the department, our teaching and research concentrates on the period from 1500 to the present and covers a wide geographical area that includes British and European history, as well as Latin America, the USA, China, Russia and Africa.

Specialist facilities

  • We have several Special Collections in history, including the Essex Society for Archaeology and History Library, the Harsnett Collection, the Hervey Benham Oral History Sound Archive, the Bensusan Collection, and the Colchester Medical Society Library
  • The UK Data Archive, a national service provider of digital resources for historians, is particularly strong in nineteenth and twentieth-century economic and social history
  • Attend an exciting programme of events
  • Our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is the largest of its kind in Europe
  • Access a variety of textbooks and journals in our Albert Sloman Library which houses materials on Latin America, Russia and the US that are of national importance

Your future

In addition to the opportunity to learn about the past and come to a better understanding of the present, a course in history also provides you with important skills that will be of value after leaving university. You learn to absorb, analyse and assess a wide variety of information and viewpoints, to express your arguments in oral and written form, and to think and work both independently and in co-operation with others.

You therefore graduate prepared for a wide range of careers. Our graduates are currently employed in teaching, librarianship, museum and archive services, the Civil Service, local government, law enforcement, charity administration, banking, law, industrial and retail management, media research, electronic publishing, marketing, IT, health service administration, counselling, social work, and many other fields.

Our recent graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of organisations including:

  • Sage Publications
  • Royal College of Physicians Library
  • UK Anti-Doping

We also work with our Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Some organisation which our students have recently gained work experience with include the Essex Police Museum, the Rothschild Archive, the Marks Hall Trust, and local schools.

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Example structure

Studying at Essex is about discovering yourself, so your course combines compulsory and optional modules to make sure you gain key knowledge in the discipline, while having as much freedom as possible to explore your own interests. Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.

For many of our courses you’ll have a wide range of optional modules to choose from – those listed in this example structure are just a selection of those available. The opportunity to take optional modules will depend on the number of core modules within any year of the course. In many instances, the flexibility to take optional modules increases as you progress through the course.

Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current first-year students, including details of all optional modules.

Year 1

Gain a deep insight into the origins of today’s world. This module presents a chronological overview of the key events in western history from the last 200 years. Look at how ideas, cultures, and economies of different peoples intersected, and changed, through the conflicts brought on by capitalism, imperialism, war, and revolution. You develop a solid foundation to study modern history.

View 'The Making of the Modern World 1776-1989' on our Module Directory

Gain the necessary tools with which to study history at university level. You will be introduced to history as an academic discipline and will develop the skills employed by professional historians, as well as gaining key transferable skills. This module has no single geographical focus, but uses examples from a range of different historical themes, time periods and countries.

View 'Becoming a Historian' on our Module Directory

Gain a firm grasp of US history by studying key historical events as well as important social movements. Topics covered range from the early settlements in Plimoth and Jamestown, through the American Revolution and expansion, Industrial Revolution, slavery and Civil War, up to the 1950s and 60s civil rights, women's and youth movements. Engage with novel and exciting debate about the history of the United States.

View 'Introduction to US History' on our Module Directory

You are introduced to the global history of empires, states, societies and cultures and the transnational experience of individuals, whilst retaining a grounding in the development of specific nation states and communities in the modern period. You consider how the inter-connectedness of humanity, the nature of flows between people, and the varying character of the societies of which they are a part can be highlighted through a focus on world-spanning phenomena.

View 'Themes in Global History (optional)' on our Module Directory

Gain an understanding of Latin American history from the Conquest to the beginning of the 20th century. Conquest, colonisation, and the development of a colonial economy and society are important themes, and you study colonial unrest and the civil wars that resulted in the independence of most of South America by 1824. You are also introduced to the post-war politics, the emergence and functioning of the new nation-states, and how elites implemented programmes of modernisation.

View 'Introduction to Latin American History: From 16th Century Conquest to 19th Century Modernization (optional)' on our Module Directory

What is US literature? What makes it different from other writing in the English language, particularly work from the UK? Study classic texts that have established US literature as a distinct tradition in itself and gain an understanding of the issues surrounding this.

View 'Introduction to United States Literature (optional)' on our Module Directory

Who were the key sociologists studying the United States? And how have issues like democracy, inequality, gender roles, poverty, gangs and guns become sources of enchantment and disenchantment in the US? Studying one sociologist per week, we explore important and exciting interpretations of American society.

View 'Introduction to United States Sociology (optional)' on our Module Directory

Year 2

This module will illuminate everything you study in history. It encourages you to think about the many and diverse ways in which historians approach the writing of history. You’ll be introduced to important historical concepts that have shaped recent historical writing, such as microhistory, class, gender and race, or to an important historical theme, such as consumption, literary history and global history.

View 'Making Histories: Concepts, Themes and Sources' on our Module Directory

Discover how historians communicate their work and what skills they use. This module focuses on the labour market. Explore how your abilities can be presented as convincingly as possible, and learn how your skills fit different careers. You’ll also look at the range of opportunities available and the choices our former history students have made. There will be visits from former students and other experts who talk about the professions they decided to go into.

View 'History Works: Beyond Your BA' on our Module Directory

In the late 19th century, Great Britain was the world's leading power and the 'workshop of the world'. By the time of the Second World War, the United States was dominant in both political and economic terms. After a discussion of the forging of the idea of this 'special relationship' during the Second World War, you will examine the nature and the degree of co-operation and tension between the two countries up to the modern day.

View ''The Special Relationship'? Anglo-American Relations 1850-2005 (optional)' on our Module Directory

Where there was slavery, there was resistance. In most cases, the resistance was covert, but instances of open rebellion were surprisingly common. In this module you’ll examine the phenomenon of slave resistance in the Atlantic World from ca. 1522 (the first recorded rebellion by enslaved Africans in the Americas) to 1888, when slavery was finally abolished in Brazil.

View 'Resistance and Rebellion in the World of Atlantic Slavery (optional)' on our Module Directory

Explore the history of US slavery with attention to its development as a particularly Southern institution between the Colonial period and the end of the Civil War. Central topics and themes include: enslaved African life; culture and society; Southern-ness and racial identity; free African Americans; gender, sexuality, and slavery; economics, ideology and slavery; resistance and narratives of the enslaved; opposition to, and the demise of, slavery.

View 'The African American Experience (optional)' on our Module Directory

Does Hollywood have the last word on America? What do we mean by independent motion pictures? Understand the diverse and changing modes of film production in the USA. Formulate your own ideas of the social, cultural and political dimensions of American films and filmmaking in the last 40 years.

View 'Alternative Americas: Independent Film' on our Module Directory

Brazil is a land of contrasts. It’s a country with extreme social inequality as well as having an amazing capacity to integrate different cultures. Today it is asserting itself as a key player in international politics. You’ll receive an introduction to the political and social history of the Brazilian Republic from the overthrow of the Empire (1889) to the democratic transition following the military dictatorship (1964-85). The main focus of this module will be on the social movements in this period.

View 'The Making of Modern Brazil (optional)' on our Module Directory

Final year

History is actively constructed and not simply rediscovered in the records of the past. Historical research involves a process of selection and interpretation, and there is an active exchange between theory and empirical data. The Independent Research Project gives you a unique opportunity to explore the making of history. You undertake a piece of detailed, critical and/or possibly original historical research. Meetings and workshops provide practical guidance on formulating a topic, researching, writing and presentation.

View 'Independent Research Project' on our Module Directory

Lyndon B. Johnson's term as president began and ended in controversy. Thrust into office immediately following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, he attempted to advance a liberal agenda, as well as promoting his own political ambitions. He left office just over six years later a broken man. While he had achieved some considerable success to improve the lot of many ordinary Americans, his dreams foundered over his policies in Vietnam.

View 'The Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-69) (Special Subject) (optional)' on our Module Directory

Gain a detained insight into the history of sexuality in the United States from the colonial period to the present, with an emphasis on women. You will understand how the social construction of sexuality changed throughout time. Although women's historical experiences are positioned as central to this module, you also investigate concepts of masculinity and manhood. In addition to gender, race, class, free/un-free status, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and the body, are crucial sites of analysis.

View 'Women, Gender and Sexuality in US History (optional)' on our Module Directory

The majority of the 12 million enslaved Africans deported to the Americas during the 16th to the 19th centuries ended up working on plantations in Brazil and the Caribbean. Sugar, cacao, indigo, tobacco, cotton and coffee were the main commodities produced for the rapidly expanding European markets. Slavery in the Americas contributed to the making of the modern world. You’ll examine the different plantation societies in Brazil, British Jamaica, the French Caribbean, and the Spanish colonies (Venezuela and Cuba).

View 'Slavery and Plantation Societies in Latin America (optional)' on our Module Directory

Gain an in-depth understanding of the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War and the profound impact this conflict had on American politics and political culture. You’ll examine the history of the war and will focus on the different ways in which the war has been understood. The module encompasses not just international and military, but also cultural, history. Combining these approaches will help you understand the enormous effect that the war has had on American public life.

View 'The United States and the Vietnam War (optional)' on our Module Directory

Year abroad

On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.

Teaching

  • Taught by a weekly lecture followed by a seminar, where groups of about 15 students meet with their tutor to discuss their reading, to work together with primary sources, or to make presentations to the rest of the group
  • One-to-one tuition for your final-year project

Assessment

  • Assessment methods include essays, coursework journals, oral presentations, book and film reviews, source analysis, and the dissertation
  • Your first-year marks do not count towards your final degree class

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Qualifications

UK entry requirements

A-levels: BBB

IB: 30 points. We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programmes at both Higher and Standard Level. Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

Entry requirements for students studying BTEC qualifications are dependent on units studied. Advice can be provided on an individual basis. The standard required is generally at Distinction level.

International and EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Email admit@essex.ac.uk for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the high school qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

IELTS entry requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. (Different requirements apply for second year entry.)

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels required. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications.

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Visit us

Open days

Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. In 2017 we have three undergraduate Open Days (in June, September and October). These events enable you to discover what our Colchester Campus has to offer. You have the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing tours@essex.ac.uk and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

Exhibitions

Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

Applying

Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.

Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.

The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are ‘L’ and ‘S’ respectively.

Visit days and interviews

Resident in the UK? If your application is successful, we will invite you to attend one of our visit days. These run from January to April and give you the chance to explore the campus, meet our students and really get a feel for life as an Essex student.

Some of our courses also hold interviews and if you’re invited to one, this will take place during your visit day. Don’t panic, they’re nothing to worry about and it’s a great way for us to find out more about you and for you to find out more about the course. Some of our interviews are one-to-one with an academic, others are group activities, but we’ll send you all the information you need beforehand.

If you’re outside the UK and are planning a trip, feel free to email visit@essex.ac.uk so we can help you plan a visit to the University.

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