American Studies (United States)

Staff member? Login here

Academic Year of Entry: 2023/24
Course overview
(BA) Bachelor of Arts
American Studies (United States)
University of Essex
University of Essex
Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Colchester Campus
Honours Degree
Area Studies
BA T700


Professional accreditation


Admission criteria

A-levels: ABB

BTEC: DDM – DMM. The acceptability of BTECs is dependent on subject studied and optional units taken - please email for advice on acceptability

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: We can consider T-levels on a case-by-case basis, depending on subject studied and course applied for. If a T-level can be accepted, the offer for most of our undergraduate courses would be Distinction overall. Depending on the course applied for there may be additional requirements, which may include a specific grade in the Core. If you are worried about meeting our offer level, please contact our admissions team on who will be happy to discuss your options.

What if I don’t achieve the grades I hoped?
If your final grades are not as high as you had hoped, the good news is you may still be able to secure a place with us on a course which includes a foundation year. Visit our undergraduate application information page for more details.

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

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) code

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 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 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.

Course qualifiers

A course qualifier is a bracketed addition to your course title to denote a specialisation or pathway that you have achieved via the completion of specific modules during your course. The specific module requirements for each qualifier title are noted below. Eligibility for any selected qualifier will be determined by the department and confirmed by the final year Board of Examiners. If the required modules are not successfully completed, your course title will remain as described above without any bracketed addition. Selection of a course qualifier is optional and student can register preferences or opt-out via Online Module Enrolment (eNROL).


Rules of assessment

Rules of assessment are the rules, principles and frameworks which the University uses to calculate your course progression and final results.

Additional notes


External examiners

Staff photo
Dr Kevin Corstorphine


University of Hull

External Examiners provide an independent overview of our courses, offering their expertise and help towards our continual improvement of course content, teaching, learning, and assessment. External Examiners are normally academics from other higher education institutions, but may be from the industry, business or the profession as appropriate for the course. They comment on how well courses align with national standards, and on how well the teaching, learning and assessment methods allow students to develop and demonstrate the relevant knowledge and skills needed to achieve their awards. External Examiners who are responsible for awards are key members of Boards of Examiners. These boards make decisions about student progression within their course and about whether students can receive their final award.


Core You must take this module.
You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options You can choose which module to study.
You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Compulsory You must take this module.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Compulsory with Options You can choose which module to study.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Optional You can choose which module to study.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.

Year 1 - 2023/24

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Min Credits Max Credits
01  CS101-4-FY-CO  Modern Revolutions in Science, Politics, and Culture  Compulsory  30  30 
02  LT161-4-AU-CO  Introduction to United States Literature  Compulsory  15  15 
03  HR106-4-SP-CO  Democracy in Europe and the United States, 1789-1989  Compulsory  15  15 
04  GV163-4-AU-CO  Introduction to United States  Compulsory  15  15 
05  SC164-4-SP-CO  Introduction to United States Sociology  Compulsory  15  15 
06    LA410-4-FY or (LA421-4-AU and LA422-4-SP) or option(s) from list or outside option(s)  Optional  30  30 
07  CS711-4-FY-CO  Skills for University Studies  Compulsory 

Year 2 - 2024/25

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Min Credits Max Credits
01  CS261-5-AU-CO  America and the World  Compulsory  15  15 
02    CS200-5-AU or (CS712-5-FY and an United States option from list)  Compulsory with Options  15  15 
03    United States option in different discipline option(s) from list  Optional  45  45 
04    CS201-5-FY or CS220-5-FY or 2nd year United States option(s) or outside option(s) from list  Optional  30  30 
05    CS241-5-SP or United States option from list  Optional  15  15 

Year 3 - 2025/26

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Min Credits Max Credits
01    Autumn term abroad options  Compulsory with Options  30  30 
02    Autumn term abroad options  Compulsory with Options  30  30 
03    US Studies option(s) from list or outside option(s)  Optional  15  15 
04    United States option(s)  Optional  30  30 
05    CS315-6-SP or CS301-6-SP or CS300-6-SP - CAPSTONE  Compulsory with Options  15  15 

Exit awards

A module is given one of the following statuses: 'core' – meaning it must be taken and passed; 'compulsory' – meaning it must be taken; or 'optional' – meaning that students can choose the module from a designated list. The rules of assessment may allow for limited condonement of fails in 'compulsory' or 'optional' modules, but 'core' modules cannot be failed. The status of the module may be different in any exit awards which are available for the course. Exam Boards will consider students' eligibility for an exit award if they fail the main award or do not complete their studies.

Programme aims

  • To provide students with a multidisciplinary programme of study with which to assess American contributions to our understanding of political, historical, literary, artistic, social and cultural perspectives on the world.
  • To provide students with opportunities to acquire a critical appreciation of the United States and an understanding of its complex and paradoxical society from as many vantage points as possible.
  • To provide students with opportunities to experience a number of different critical approaches through teaching, reading and research in American history, literature, politics, sociology, art and film .
  • To provide students with opportunities to acquire and apply research skills.
  • To develop students' analytical, critical and problem-solving skills.
  • To prepare students for further work or study on and in the United States.

  • 7. to provide students with an opportunity to study in a different culture through a one semester programme of study in the United States.

    Learning outcomes and learning, teaching and assessment methods

    On successful completion of the programme a graduate should demonstrate knowledge and skills as follows:

    A: Knowledge and understanding

    A1: Students will be able to demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the political processes of the United States and of some of the essential concepts Americans use to describe political life

    A2: Students will be able to demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of some of the most influential ideas that have informed sociological theories and visions of American society, related to the debates around race, inequality and gender in the United States.

    A3: Students will be able to demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of core concepts of the history of the United States, concerning its origins, development and influence

    A4: Students will be able to demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of some of the texts regarded as establishing and problematising U.S. literature as a separate literature from English

    A5: Students will be able to demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of some of the key cultural perspectives of the United States, its art, literature and film.

    Learning methods

    A1 - A4 are acquired through core module lectures and classes in Year 1, in the Year 2 core modules and through a course of study followed at a University in the United States in Year 3.

    A5 is acquired through core modules in Years 1 and 2, through United States option modules in Years 2 and 3 and through modules taken in the United States during the study abroad semester.

    Assessment methods

    Assessment is by unseen examinations and/or continuous coursework consisting of essays or term papers.

    B: Intellectual and cognitive skills

    B1: Students will be able to use their discipline-based training to think critically and analytically in relation to a number of different academic disciplines

    B2: Students will be able to apply a range of primary and secondary sources which include written, oral and visual sources in a number of different contexts.

    B3: Students will be able to reason critically, identify, analyse and solve problems, using appropriate methodologies and theories.

    B4: Students will be able to demonstrate and exercise independence of mind and thought.

    Learning methods

    B1-B4 are acquired through classes and seminars where there is emphasis on group discussion.

    Students are expected to do independent research to consolidate classwork.

    B1 and B3 are also acquired through lectures and through feedback on course work.

    Assessment methods

    All these skills are assessed in continuous coursework and examinations in all years.

    C: Practical skills

    C1: Students will be able to communicate ideas clearly and coherently in a range of disciplines and in a manner appropriate to a variety of target audiences at home and in the United States.

    C2: Students will be able to present written materials using appropriate language, referencing, and other illustrative material as appropriate.

    C3: Students will be able to work independently, write and think under pressure, meet deadlines, manage their own time and workload and demonstrate initiative.

    Learning methods

    C1 - C3 are acquired through classes, coursework and preparation for examinations.

    C2, C3 and C5 are acquired through classes, lectures, essays, term papers and further through the optional final year dissertation.

    C4 and C5 are acquired through the guided but relatively independent process of organising and successfully completing a period of living and studying in the United States.

    Assessment methods

    C1 - C3 are assessed through unseen examinations, coursework essays and term papers in all years.

    D: Key skills

    D1: Students will be able to present knowledge or an argument in a clear, coherent and relevant manner, work proficiently and effectively in a range of academic contexts and work independently in a different cultural and learning environment

    D2: Students will be able to use a range of appropriate IT to research and present material.

    D4: Students will be able to identify a research problem and apply relevant research methodologies and techniques to resolve it.

    D6: Students will be able to reflect on their own learning, to seek and make use of feedback on their performance, to recognise when further knowledge is required and to undertake the necessary research

    Learning methods

    Key skills are acquired through participatory classwork in all years of study, through the presentation of continuous coursework and preparation for examinations.

    Students are encouraged to engage in discussion, to listen effectively and to participate in group work to the benefit of the group as a whole.

    On some modules oral presentation skills are assessed.

    Assessment methods

    All key skills are assessed through coursework and examinations.


    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 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 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.


    If you are thinking of studying at Essex and have questions about the course, please contact Undergraduate Admissions by emailing, or Postgraduate Admissions by emailing

    If you're a current student and have questions about your course or specific modules, please contact your department.

    If you think there might be an error on this page, please contact the Course Records Team by emailing