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American Studies (United States) (Including Year Abroad)

Course overview

(BA) Bachelor of Arts
American Studies (United States) (Including Year Abroad)
University of Essex
University of Essex
Interdisciplinary Studies Centre (ISC)
Colchester Campus
Honours Degree
Area Studies
BA T708

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.

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.

External Examiners

Dr Jonathan Mitchell
University Of East Anglia
Senior Lecturer in American Studies

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
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
Optional You can choose which module to study

Year Abroad/Placement - 2021/22

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits
01 AW600-6-FY Compulsory 60

Year 3 - 2022/23

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits
01 US Studies option(s) from list Optional 30
02 Final year United States option(s) Optional 30
03 United States option(s) from list or outside option(s) Optional 30
04 CS831-6-FY or CS301-6-FY Compulsory with Options 30

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

P1. 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.

P2. 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.

P3. 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 and a broad range of courses on the Year Abroad in the United States.

P4. to provide students with opportunities to acquire and apply research skills.

P5. to develop students' analytical, critical and problem-solving skills.

P6. to develop students' intercultural skills necessary for living and working in a different culture.

P7. to prepare students for further work or study on and 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 core modules in Year 2 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, and through United States option modules in Years 2 and 4 and through the Year Abroad.
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.
All the stated skills are also developed in the optional final year Dissertation.
Assessment Methods: All these skills are assessed in continuous coursework and examinations in all years.
B2 - B4 are also assessed by examinations.

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.
C4 Students will be able to apply the necessary organisational and cultural skills for living and working abroad.
C5 Students will be able to collect research materials from diverse sources during the Year Abroad and fashion these into written theses on selected issues, problems and questions.
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.
C4 is assessed through the work of the Year Abroad.

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: D1 and D6 skills are acquired through participatory classwork in all years of study.

D1 is acquired through the work of the Year Abroad.

D2, D4, D5, and D6 skills are acquired through the presentation of continuous coursework in all years of study and through the final year dissertation.
Assessment Methods: All key skills are assessed either through coursework or the final year project, including the work of the Year Abroad.

D1 skills are also assessed through 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.

Should you have any questions about programme specifications, please contact Course Records, Quality and Academic Development; email: