Undergraduate Course

BA American Studies

(United States)

BA American Studies

Overview

The details
American Studies (United States)
T700
October 2018
Full-time
3 years
Colchester Campus

The complex and ever-changing American culture continues to fascinate. For well over a century, the US has been one of the most influential countries in the world, rising to be a world ‘superpower’ and dominating the world stage. Its commercial and cultural products are exported all over the world, from Silicon Valley and Hollywood, to jazz, blues and hip hop.

BA American Studies (United States) is for those with enthusiasm, passion and intellectual curiosity about all things American. At Essex, we offer you an opportunity to understand some of the diverse and paradoxical aspects of the US through interdisciplinary studies. The US – perhaps more than any other society – lends itself to interdisciplinary study; its literature and film are connected to its politics, its cultures are linked to its histories.

Crucially, you also spend either a term or a full academic year studying in the United States, so you can explore and become immersed in American culture.

The degree is built to be extremely flexible and student-led, and as you progress through the course you can choose from an enormous range of options from across the humanities and social sciences including:

  • Contemporary social issues, such as the struggles for racial justice
  • The legacies of slavery and the civil rights movement
  • Environmental protection of the ‘wilderness’ of the Far West
  • Native American histories and rights

Based within our Interdisciplinary Studies Centre (ISC), this course allows you to explore the many ways of understanding the American experience. You draw on multiple perspectives in order to reach a deeper understanding of the world we inhabit, opening up exciting possibilities to discover the American continent. The cities, vast open plains, mountains and deserts shape diverse and intriguing ways of life.

By encouraging you to think and operate across traditional boundaries, our American studies course has produced confident, assertive and intelligent graduates who have become successful in many professional fields.

Our teaching and research draws on expertise from a number of academic departments and we are ranked in the top 10 in the UK for American Studies (CUG Rankings 2018).

Why we're great.
  • You can study abroad at a wide range of excellent partner universities across the US.
  • You are taught by a team of experts who are internationally recognised in their fields.
  • Our teaching is underpinned by research - new ideas and theories are tested in the classroom.

Study abroad

Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement 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.

If you spend a full year abroad you'll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won't pay any tuition fees to your host university

Our expert staff

We are a team of internationally recognised writers and lecturers with expertise across the arts, humanities and social sciences. As well as being one of the UK’s leading universities for social science and the highest ranking institution for political science, Essex academics are world leaders in human rights and pioneers in the literature and arts of the Americas.

Our staff teach in departments across the university, and specialise in a wide range of topics including American history, law, literature, film, politics, and sociology.

Current research is exploring American politics and the electorate, cinematic images of the American Pacific, politics and land rights of the native Innu of Labrador in Canada, civil rights and African American history, and American crime fiction.

Specialist facilities

Your future

Our course offers you the chance to gain a wide-ranging knowledge of many aspects of American life and intimate acquaintance with the region in the United States where you have spent a period of study.

This provides excellent preparation for careers in media, education, politics, the Civil Service, international organisations such as the UN and NATO or non-governmental organisations, and many other fields.

Our recent graduates have gone on to work in a wide range of desirable roles including an events co-ordinator for Age UK, a business provision manager for BT, an accountant in London, and an account executive for Bluesky PR.

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

“We have a broad range of lecturers who each add a different perspective. We're lucky to have such great minds at our disposal.”

Talia Burr, first-year BA American Studies (United States) student

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A-levels: BBB, including one essay-based subject

IB: 30 points, including a Higher Level essay-based subject grade 5. 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 & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

English language requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. Different requirements apply for second year entry, and specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.

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 listed above. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications

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.

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.

Structure

Example structure

We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of compulsory and optional modules chosen from lists. Below is just one example structure from the current academic year of a combination of modules you could take. Your course structure could differ based on the modules you choose.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore all modules listed are subject to change. To view the compulsory modules and full list of optional modules currently on offer, please view the programme specification via the link below.

Modern Revolutions in Science, Politics, and Culture

Certain ideas shape the way we see ourselves and the world around us—ideas like democracy, free speech, individualism, free markets, and humans rights. These ideas took their definitive modern form during a politically and intellectually revolutionary stretch of history known as the Enlightenment (1650-1800). This interdisciplinary module examines this period and thus serves as an essential prerequisite for students who want to understand the intellectual currents that run through the world they live in. Graduating students often rank it among the most useful modules they’ve taken.

View Modern Revolutions in Science, Politics, and Culture on our Module Directory

Introduction to United States Literature

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 on our Module Directory

The Great American Experiment

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 The Great American Experiment on our Module Directory

Introduction to United States

American politics have long dominated the global stage; these are crucial times for the study of the United States. Discuss policymaking and contemporary political events in order to gain a basic introduction to the politics and government of the United States.

View Introduction to United States on our Module Directory

Introduction to United States Sociology

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 on our Module Directory

Initial Spanish (optional)

To whom do you say “¿Cómo estás?” And to whom do you say “¿Cómo están?” Gain the basic linguistic skills to enjoy a visit to Spain. Learn the dialogue, structures and tenses needed for everyday situations, and develop the writing skills required for short messages.

View Initial Spanish (optional) on our Module Directory

Skills for University Studies

Are you ready for graduate employment? Like to improve your core skills? Wish you had some relevant work or volunteering experience? Attend workshops, events and activities at the University and elsewhere to build your knowledge, abilities and experience. Polish your CV, while developing your employability, citizenship and life skills.

View Skills for University Studies on our Module Directory

America: Centres and Margins, Borders and Boundaries

From a variety of perspectives, including history, literature, politics, sociology, art and architecture, you will examine the structural relationships of America and American culture at its core and at its (geographic, cultural) edges. Lectures cover topics including the USA's political, cultural and subcultural relationships with its Native communities and with Mexico, Puerto Rico and Latin America more broadly; various subcultural movements including gay rights, the Harlem Renaissance and activist art movements; race relations; the politics of war; the architectural fabric of American cities; and more.

View America: Centres and Margins, Borders and Boundaries on our Module Directory

Social Entrepreneurs, Sustainability and Community Action (optional)

Got an idea for a project, job or not-for-profit enterprise that will enhance local well-being? We study the concept and practice of social entrepreneurship, using case studies of work that has helped local communities, people or the environment. From this, you develop your project proposal or business plan.

View Social Entrepreneurs, Sustainability and Community Action (optional) on our Module Directory

United States Literature Since 1850 (optional)

What are the major US texts since 1850? And what problems are connected to them? Study a varied spectrum of US literature, looking at issues such as the relationship between American writing and history, American “difference” and differences within American society, nationalism and regionalism, and conflicts of race and gender.

View United States Literature Since 1850 (optional) on our Module Directory

Navigating the Digital World (optional)

What does it mean to be a "digital citizen"? How are digital technologies transforming society? To what extent do digital technologies curb or enhance our rights? Some say that we live in a "post-truth" era filled with "fake news" that traps us in a digital "bubble" or "echo chamber". Others see digital technologies as the key to unlocking social change and finding new ways to bring people together across geographical boundaries. Which view is right? What are the actual legal, ethical, social, political, creative, and economic implications of living in an increasingly digital world? This module gives you an opportunity to explore these important issues, and it also provides you with hands-on training from experts in the practical skills required to navigate the digital world.

View Navigating the Digital World (optional) on our Module Directory

Doing Interdisciplinary Research for a BA Dissertation: Approaches, Methods, Practice (optional)

Want to do a dissertation in your final year? Have a great idea for a topic that you wish to study in depth? The short lectures, practical research exercises and discussion opportunities on this module help you develop your own coherent research project.

View Doing Interdisciplinary Research for a BA Dissertation: Approaches, Methods, Practice (optional) on our Module Directory

American Society: Ethnic Encounters in the Making of the USA (optional)

What is it to be an American Indian today? Has the slavery legacy contributed to contemporary debates on criminal justice? What are the politics for a Latino presence? Examine social, political and economic encounters between European settlers, American Indians, African-Americans and Latinos that shaped the USA, from colonisation to today.

View American Society: Ethnic Encounters in the Making of the USA (optional) on our Module Directory

Women, Gender and Sexuality in United States History (optional)

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 United States History (optional) on our Module Directory

Final Year Dissertation (optional)

Are you doing a dissertation in your final year? Need help and advice on your research findings? Our workshop module lets you present your work to academic staff and your peers, gaining valuable feedback and guidance while you write your dissertation.

View Final Year Dissertation (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 through lectures plus classes of about twenty students
  • You take a one-hour lecture and a one-hour class for each of your modules every week
  • Spend either a term or a full year experiencing the American education system
  • Other teaching methods will depend on your individual combination of subjects

Assessment

  • Assessed through a combination of written coursework and end-of-year examinations
  • Other assessment methods will depend on your individual combination of subjects

Fees and funding

Home/EU fee

£9,250

International fee

£14,020

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

Home and EU fee information

International fee information

What's next

Open Days

Our events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. We run a number of Open Days throughout the year which enable you to discover what our 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 book a campus tour here.

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.

Applicant Days and interviews

Resident in the UK? If your application is successful, we will invite you to attend one of our applicant 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 applicant 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.

Colchester Campus

Visit Colchester Campus

We want you to throw yourself in at the deep end, soak up life and make the most of those special Essex moments.

Home to over 13,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.

 

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tours allows you to explore our University from the comfort of your home. Check out our Colchester virtual tour and Southend virtual tour to see 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.

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its course finder is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep prospective students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

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