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Undergraduate course

Human Geography with American Studies BA (Hons)

Explore the world, the impact people have on it and how this differs between England and America.

Image of students out on a trip around York

Explore your fascination for America while deepening your knowledge of Human Geography, combining both your passions in one degree programme. You’ll gain an understanding of America’s profound influence upon the world and how the world views America whilst developing a geographer’s appreciation of local-to-global interactions and of spatial inequalities.

York campus

  • UCAS Code – L7T7
  • Duration – 3 years full-time | 6 years part-time
  • Start date – September 2020
  • School – Humanities, Religion & Philosophy

Minimum Entry Requirements

    96 UCAS points

    3 GCSEs Graded C/4 or above (or equivalent) including English Language and Maths

Tuition Fees

    UK and EU 2020-21 £9,250 per year

    International 2020-21 £12,750 per year

The York St John Experience

Course overview

Human Geography provides insight into the world around us and our everyday lives, addressing issues like inequality, poverty, globalisation, urban planning and regeneration whilst American Studies introduces you to the varied culture, society and history of the United States. A diverse range of modules, which include building skills around critical thinking, exploring social identities, reading landscapes and the cultural aspects of American life, will introduce you to a broad range of varied and vibrant themes throughout your studies.

Fieldwork and real-world learning are central to this course. Whilst local field trips explore York city centre and the Yorkshire region we also offer residential field trips which take you further afield, previous destinations have included Malta and Slovenia. We also offer the opportunity to study abroad within this programme and we can support you with finding a suitable institution to study at should you choose to for some of your time on this course.

This programme has been accredited by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) and is designed to ensure that you develop increasingly specialist knowledge and skills throughout your studies. We use a variety of assessment formats, including essays, reports (such as fieldwork reports), portfolios, timed assessments, case study reviews and verbal presentations. In lectures, seminars, workshops and practical fieldwork you will be learning alongside staff who are active researchers in their specialist areas.

You’ll come through this programme with a diverse and widely applicable skillset, allowing you to consider possible career routes within the areas of media, tourism management, social policy, local government and planning roles.

Course structure

Level 1


Modules include:

  • Urban Geography explores the changing nature and role of cities in the 21st century
  • Critical Thinking & Academic Skills in Geography focuses on a contentious issue to critically analyse arguments and evidence, developing your own position. This module incorporates a compulsory residential field trip within the UK
  • American Foundations introduces American studies by focusing on the key myths/themes of the US experience, such as mission, freedom, the American Dream, the Melting Pot and multiculturalism
  • Social & Cultural Geography examines social and spatial inequalities with reference to issues such as gender, age, class, ethnicity, race and disability
  • Human Geography Fieldwork Studies introduces you to geography’s history of field exploration and develops your own human geography field research skills
  • America’s Century: United States Foreign Affairs in the 20th Century examines the dynamic interaction between the USA and the international community

Level 2


Modules include:

  • Society and Space focuses on the ways that social identities (e.g. age, class, ethnicity) are expressed in, and produce, particular spaces
  • Culture and Landscape examines the changing concept of ‘landscape’ through history, and how to ‘read’ landscapes from different perspectives
  • From Slavery to Freedom examines the major historical interpretations and cultural developments concerning the experience of African Americans under slavery and freedom
  • Geographical Thought (studied by students on all geography programmes) reviews the range of approaches that geographers have taken to doing geographical research
  • Research Project: in this module students work in small groups to develop research plans for a human geography project, then undertaking the research on residential field work (current destination: Malta)
  • American Literature, Space and Place examines a selection of American texts in terms of the relationship between literature and physical and cultural space
  • Film & the American Imagination explores the social, historical and cultural contexts in which the American landscape is represented in film.
  • Geographers’ Professional Practice (work placement)

Level 3


Modules include:

  • Cities in Transition focuses on contemporary issues in cities, particularly relating to democracy and decision-making
  • The Special Relationship: Britain and the US from 1945 to the 21st Century analyses the most important international relationship between states the world has seen since 1945
  • US Conflict on the East Asian Mainland offers opportunity to explore the rich historical debates surrounding the Vietnam War and conflict on the Korean peninsula
  • Pop Americana: Contemporary Popular Culture considers the ways in which popular culture draws from, utilises and subverts America’s past ideas and imagery
  • The Nation Divided: The Civil War Era in American Life explores the history of the American Civil War, the historical debates surrounding the war and the social and political forces that have shaped its subsequent portrayal
  • International/Cross-Cultural Fieldwork applies your knowledge through residential fieldwork, interpreting some aspect of the geography of the destination for a public audience (current destination: Slovenia)
  • Human Geography Dissertation is a year-long module in which students undertake their own research project on a human geography topic of their interest, guided by a tutor

Teaching & Assessment

For all of our Geography Degrees, our aim is to get you practising geography for yourself from the outset: collecting and analyzing data, applying theories for yourself, and developing your skills and abilities – generating your own knowledge.

Teaching methods

We use a range of teaching styles and settings to support you in this. This includes lectures and seminars (small groups of students with a tutor), tutorials (one-to-one meetings with a tutor), fieldwork, ICT workshops, independent study outside of formal teaching sessions, collaborative learning (working with your fellow students) and using online resources through the university’s Virtual Learning Environment. Teaching sessions include discussions, problem-solving exercises, group work, debates and data analysis exercises. Throughout your degree you are encouraged to take an active part in teaching sessions, rather than just being a passive receiver of information. Sometimes students are even asked to take the lead in sessions.


You may have the opportunity to work on placements with a range of organisations, including charities such as International Service and Dig Deep, tourism organisations including Visit York and the National Glass Centre, as well as with schools and commercial companies.

Assessment & Feedback

Assessment of this degree is entirely through coursework, with no exams. This is to ensure that the kinds of work you are doing through the degree reflect the kinds of work geographers undertake after graduation, in professional employment. You will encounter a wide range of assessment, including essays, reports (including fieldwork reports), verbal presentations and portfolios (potentially with some multimedia elements in them). Many modules are assessed through one piece of coursework, with development of this work supported throughout the course of the module. Feedback on assignments is designed to support you in your future learning, at the same time as assessing what you have already learned.

Final year dissertation

By your final year, you will be ready to take control of your learning for yourself. The dissertation involves you undertaking an independent research project (guided by a tutor) on a geography topic of your choice, demonstrating self-reliance and developing skills of project management. The fieldwork module in your final semester brings together all that you will have learned through your degree, giving you plenty of scope to demonstrate your knowledge, abilities and creativity.

Entry requirements

The minimum entry requirements for this course are:

96 UCAS Tariff points

3 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above (or equivalent) including English Language and Maths

Calculate your tariff points.

Foundation Year

This course is available with a foundation year. This option is ideal if you do not yet meet the minimum requirements for entry straight onto a degree course, or feel you are not quite ready for the transition to Higher Education. A foundation year prepares you for degree level study, giving you the confidence and skills needed to make the most of your course. Passing it guarantees you a place on this degree course the following academic year.

Foundation courses

Personal statement

Essential criteria

As well as a strong standard of written English, the ability to demonstrate knowledge and interest in the subject is essential. This can be done in a variety of ways, for example, visits to design exhibitions, museums or collections. Applicants will also show an ability to 'think outside the box' and have relevant experience of group work.

Valued criteria

We also value the ability to demonstrate a real enthusiasm for the subject that goes beyond achieving good grades in exams. Examples of this include involvement in projects or entering competitions, and being aware of any current issues relating to design, such as sustainability. Candidates will also be able to discuss influences including favourite designers, design product or style of design.

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. These can be accessed through our Admissions webpages.

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