Our five-year BA American Studies (United States) (including foundation year and year abroad), will be suitable for you if your academic qualifications do not yet meet our entrance requirements for the four-year version of this course and you want a programme that increases your subject knowledge as well as improves your academic skills in order to support your academic performance.
This five-year course includes a foundation year (Year Zero), followed by a further three years of study, plus a study abroad year or term. During your Year Zero, you study three academic subjects relevant to your chosen course as well as a compulsory academic skills module, with additional English language for non-English speakers.
You are an Essex student from day one, a member of our global community based at the most internationally diverse campus university in the UK.
After successful completion of Year Zero in our Essex Pathways Department, you progress to complete your course with our Interdisciplinary Studies Centre.
Our course 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. We are 8th in the UK for American Studies in the Complete University Guide 2023.
We equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed at Essex and beyond.
Guarantee your place on your chosen course if you successfully complete your foundation year at Essex.
Small class sizes allow you to work closely with your teachers and classmates.
Your education extends beyond our University campus. In your fourth year, you spend either one term or one year at one of the American universities with whom we have an exchange agreement.
Your fourth year is spent studying abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three and four-year courses.
We have exchange partners with fifteen excellent academic institutions across the United States, from New Mexico to Massachusetts, including upstate New York, the Deep South, Miami and California.
Studying abroad allows you to explore and become immersed in American culture, 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 have some of the best teachers across the University in our Essex Pathways Department, all of whom have strong subject backgrounds and are highly skilled in their areas.
In our Interdisciplinary Studies Centre, we are a team of internationally recognised writers and lecturers with expertise across the arts, humanities and social sciences. Essex academics are specialists in human rights and have particular expertise 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.
By studying within our Essex Pathways Department for your foundation year, you will have access to all of the facilities that the University of Essex has to offer, as well as those provided by our department to support you:
We provide computer labs for internet research; classrooms with access to PowerPoint facilities for student presentations; AV facilities for teaching and access to web-based learning materials.
Our Student Services Hub will support you and provide information for all your needs as a student
Our social space is stocked with hot magazines and newspapers, and provides an informal setting to meet with your lecturers, tutors and friends.
Take advantage of our other extensive learning resources to assist you in your studies:
Our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is the largest of its kind in Europe
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, BA American Studies (United States) student
UK entry requirements
UK and EU applicants:
All applications for degree courses with a foundation year (Year Zero) will be considered individually, whether you
think you might not have the grades to enter the first year of a degree course;
have non-traditional qualifications or experience (e.g. you haven’t studied A-levels or a BTEC);
are returning to university after some time away from education; or
are looking for more support during the transition into university study.
Our standard offer is 72 UCAS tariff points from at least two full A-levels, or equivalent.
Examples of the above tariff may include:
BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma: MMP
T-levels: Pass with E in core
If you are unsure whether you meet the entry criteria, please get in touch for advice.
Mature applicants and non-traditional academic backgrounds:
We welcome applications from mature students (over 21) and students with non-traditional academic backgrounds (might not have gone on from school to take level 3 qualifications). We will consider your educational and employment history, along with your personal statement and reference, to gain a rounded view of your suitability for the course.
Essex Pathways Department is unable to accept applications from international students. Foundation pathways for international students are available at the University of Essex International College and are delivered and awarded by Kaplan, in partnership with the University of Essex. Successful completion will enable you to progress to the relevant degree course at the University of Essex.
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 required. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications
If you are an international student requiring a Student 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 Year 0 courses are only open to UK and EU applicants. If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to your chosen degree, you could prepare and gain entry through a pathway course. Find out more about opportunities available to you at the University of Essex International College.
We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of core/compulsory modules, and optional modules chosen from lists.
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. Your course structure could differ based on the modules you choose. To view the compulsory modules and full list of optional modules currently on offer, please view the programme specification via the link below.
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.
This blended-learning module is designed to support students in their academic subject disciplines and to strengthen their confidence in key skills areas such as: academic writing, research, academic integrity, collaborative and reflective practices.
The students are supported through the use of subject-specific materials tailored to their chosen degrees with alignment of assessments between academic subject modules and the skills module.
Becoming Enlightened Citizens: Foundations in Politics and Government
How did Plato and Aristotle influence Western political thought? How do you study class or gender today? What impact does globalisation have? Examine the history of social and political theory, critically analysing current issues. Understand key topics in politics and sociology for further study of the social sciences and humanities.
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 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.
Your teaching mainly takes the form of lectures and classes, the latter involving about 20 students
A typical timetable includes a one-hour lecture and a one-hour class for each of your four modules every week
Any language classes involve language laboratory sessions
Our classes are run in small groups, so you receive a lot of individual attention
Your assessed coursework will generally consist of essays, reports, in-class tests, book reviews, individual or group oral presentations, and small scale research projects
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 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. Independent applicants in the UK or EU 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
Please note that this course is not open to international applicants
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.
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.