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 global 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. We are 8th in the UK for American Studies in the Complete University Guide 2023.
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.
You can study abroad at a wide range of excellent partner universities across the US.
We're 8th in the UK for American Studies (Complete University Guide 2023)
Our academic's combined interest in American studies means our interests span American politics, African American history, American crime fiction and much more.
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.
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 the university's Student Development Team 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
UK entry requirements
BTEC: DDD, depending on subject studied - advice on acceptability can be provided.
IB: 32 points or three Higher Level certificates with 655.
We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programme Courses (formerly certificates) 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.
We can also consider combinations with BTECs or other qualifications in the Career-related programme – the acceptability of BTECs and other qualifications depends on the subject studied, advice on acceptability can be provided. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.
Access to HE Diploma:15 Level 3 credits at Distinction and 30 level 3 credits at Merit, depending on subject studied - advice on acceptability can be provided.
T-levels: Distinction, depending on subject studied - advice on acceptability can be provided.
What if I have a non-traditional academic background? Don’t worry. To gain a deeper knowledge of your course suitability, we will look at your educational and employment history, together with your personal statement and reference.
You may be considered for entry into Year 1 of your chosen course. Alternatively, some UK and EU applicants may be considered for Essex Pathways, an additional year of study (known as a foundation year/year 0) helping students gain the necessary skills and knowledge in order to succeed on their chosen course. You can find a list of Essex Pathways courses and entry requirements here
If you are a mature student, further information is here
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.
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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 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.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The following modules are based on the current course structure and may change in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.
We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We’ll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, or in response to COVID-19, we’ll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.
Components and modules explained
Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.
Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.
What this means
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.
Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.
In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.
Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:
The department or school the module will be taught by.
In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.
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 human rights. These ideas took their definitive modern form during a politically and intellectually revolutionary stretch of history known as the Enlightenment (ca. 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 have taken.
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.
Democracy in Europe and the United States, 1789-1989
Democracy cannot be taken for granted. There was a long road to modern democracy and universal suffrage. Evolution of existing systems, revolutions, and wars created what is generally called Western Democracy. This module will explore the development of democracy in Europe and the United States over the last 200 years. It will examine how democratic states were established, challenged and reborn from the late eighteenth century to the late twentieth century. Europe experienced dictatorships, two World Wars and the fall of the Iron curtain in this time period, but it also saw the expansion of citizenship and civil liberties, the establishment of
parliamentary democracies on a global scale and the emergence of the welfare states with greater social provisions for its populations. In the year that followed its creation, the United States rapidly expanded its franchise, but it also continued to exclude many people from the democratic process well into the twentieth century. The module will also investigate the crisis of the welfare state, the rise of Neo-Liberalism, and the rise of populism--all challenges to democratic systems in the past and today.
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.
Making the transition from school to University studies can be challenging. This module will introduce you to University life and enable you to acquire the study skills to make a success of your degree. It also orients you to work, volunteering and extra-curricular activities so that you can acquire additional skills and experience while you study.
Even before COVID-19, though exacerbated by the pandemic, across a wide spectrum of political opinion one finds a shared conviction that something is amiss in the American project. Some point to Trump's election as evidence that something has gone badly wrong. At the same time, Trump's supporters pointed to an American crisis as their reason for electing him. What they agree on is that there is indeed an American crisis underway. This module takes an extended, interdisciplinary look at The American Idea and its current crisis, particularly in the contexts of pandemic response and the ongoing aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.
On a placement year you gain relevant work experience within an external business or organisation, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.
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.
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
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
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
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.
For information on transferring from another university, applying when you are not at school or college, and applying for readmission, please see How to apply and entry requirements
If you are an undergraduate student residing in the UK who has received an offer to study with us in October 2023, you will receive an email invitation to book onto one of our Applicant Days. Our Colchester Campus Applicant Days run from February to May 2023 on various Wednesdays and Saturdays, and our Southend Campus Applicant Days run from March to June 2023 on various weekdays and Saturdays. Applicant Days provide the opportunity to meet your department, tour our campus and accommodation, and chat to current students. We appreciate that travelling to university events can be expensive. This is why we have increased our Applicant Day Travel Bursary cap, allowing you to claim up to £150 as reimbursement for travel expenses. For further information about Applicant Days, including Terms and Conditions and eligibility criteria for our Travel Bursary, please visit our Applicant Days webpage.
If you are an overseas offer-holder, you will be invited to attend one of our virtual events. However, you are more than welcome to join us at one of our in-person Applicant Days if you are able to, so if you’d like to book a place, please contact our Applicant Day Team at email@example.com
Visit Colchester Campus
Home to 15,000 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.
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.
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.
At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.
The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification 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, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the 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 students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.
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.