Browser does not support script.

Undergraduate Course

American Studies and War Studies BA (Hons)

Explore the history, culture and politics of the USA. Consider how wars start, how they are fought, and their global impact.

Student discussion around table in war films seminar

Both American Studies and War Studies are diverse, interdisciplinary subjects. They allow you to investigate broad topics through many different perspectives and academic disciplines. Throughout your course you will consider both the nature of warfare and American culture through the varied lenses of history, literature, film, politics, philosophy and more. This will give you a broad range of valuable skills and knowledge.

  • Available in Clearing

York campus

  • UCAS code – L2K6
  • Duration – 3 years full time, 6 years part time
  • Start date – September 2024, September 2025
  • School – School of Humanities

Minimum entry requirements

    104 UCAS Tariff points

    3 GCSEs at grade C/4 (or equivalent) including English Language.

Tuition fees

    UK 2024 entry £9,250 per year full time

    International 2024 entry £11,500 per year full time

Discover studying at York St John University

American Studies

Dr James Cooper introduces us to American Studies at York St John University.

War Studies

Ian Horwood introduces us to War Studies at York St John University.

Course overview

This course is a great choice if you have varied interests and prefer not to be tied down to a single academic discipline. The transferable skills you will develop through your study include analytical thinking, verbal and written communication, constructing arguments and presentation skills. 

In your War Studies modules you will investigate the process of war, exploring how wars develop and how they are resolved. You will discuss the wider social consequences of past conflict and consider their effect on the present day. Topics you could study within your War Studies modules include everything from Ancient Rome to the Napoleonic Wars, to the Cold War and the War on Terror.

On your American Studies modules, you will explore America’s place within the world throughout history and its impact on global culture and politics today. By studying American literature, cinema, and popular culture alongside its history, you will build a comprehensive understanding of the USA as a cultural construct and a world power.

Through our workplace learning modules you will build employable skills and take advantage of some of the great opportunities which come from studying in a city with such a rich history. Our connections include York Museums Trust, York Explore and the Yorkshire and North East Film Archive. Through these partnerships you can explore archived treasures, create historical exhibitions and build professional networks.

You can also choose to study abroad in your second year, experiencing America for yourself. You will gain valuable experience of living in another country, developing your independence and initiative.

Course structure

Year 1

Our academic year is split into 2 semesters. How many modules you take each semester will depend on whether you are studying full time or part time.

In your first year, if you are a full time student, you will study:

  • 3 compulsory modules in your first semester
  • 3 compulsory modules in your second semester

If you are a part time student, the modules above will be split over 2 years.

You can find out which modules are available in each semester on the Course Specifications.

This is a joint honours degree which means you must study at least 1 module from each subject every semester.

Optional modules will run if they receive enough interest. It is not guaranteed that all modules will run every year.

Modules

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

This module will introduce you to American Studies as an interdisciplinary academic subject. We will give you an overview of American literature and culture from the nineteenth century to the present day. You will investigate how American identity has been constructed in relation to the broad social, technological and economic changes which have taken place in this period. The themes we explore will include colonial politics, independence, the myth of the Frontier, issues of race and gender, consumerism and popular culture.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

This module is your introduction to War Studies as an academic subject. You will learn about the history of the subject and familiarise yourself with some of the different approaches you will take and techniques you will use throughout the course. We will introduce you to the essential definitions and classifications of war, and you will work to understand what war is, and how and why we study it.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

This module will give you a broad understanding of the history of the USA, from both a domestic and an international point of view. You will learn about America’s gradual emergence as a leading international power, economically, militarily and politically. We will explore historical developments in the American experience, including political, social and economic changes. You will consider the continuing tension between unity and diversity in American history, exploring topics such as the Civil War, industrialisation, consumer culture, foreign policy and immigration.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you will focus on how war impacts society. Examining different types of war from different periods will build your skills in comparative analysis. You will also engage with contemporary historical debates about the relationship between war and society. We will examine case studies to discuss themes such as:

  • The causes of war
  • Who wins wars and why
  • The effect of war on technological and historical development
  • The role of citizens
  • The importance of the state

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

War makes for dramatic headlines and engaging copy, but there is frequent and often heated debate about the power and the biases of the media in war. On this module you will explore the relationship between warfare and the media. This includes both a discussion of the representation and reporting of war in the media, and consideration of how we can use media to research and understand war.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

This module explores the use of film as a source of historical evidence for cultural, social and political change. American Studies is always interdisciplinary in its approach, and film is one of the many mediums we use to explore American history, identity and culture. On this module you will learn the skills of cinematic analysis, which will allow you to make the best use of this important medium. We will also discuss the importance of cinema within American society.

Year 2

In your second year, if you are a full time student, you will study:

  • 1 compulsory module
  • 5 optional modules, one of these must be either Experiential Learning for War Studies or Literature at Work

You will study 3 modules per semester, but some modules can vary year on year whether they fall in semester 1 or 2.

If you are a part time student, the modules above will be split over 2 years.

You can find out which modules are available in each semester on the Course Specifications.

You must choose at least 1 module from each subject every semester. Optional modules will run if they receive enough interest. It is not guaranteed that all modules will run every year.

Modules

Credits: 20

Compulsory* module

On this module you will explore the practical, contemporary relevance of War Studies, and consider how you can apply the skills you develop on the course to your future career. As part of this module you will take part in work-related learning.

*You must choose either Experiential Learning for War Studies or Literature at Work

Credits: 20

Compulsory* module

On this module we will encourage you to think about your career options after graduation, and how the skills you are developing can help you to achieve these goals. We will focus on team work and project management skills, as you work in groups to develop, plan and execute a project. Alternatively, you could gain some industry experience with an external workplace placement. Guest speakers will share their experiences and introduce you to a variety of graduate career pathways, potentially including publishing, research, teaching, marketing and journalism.

*You must choose either History, Community and Culture or Literature at Work

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you will focus on the wider cultural diplomatic and political aspects of warfare. We will explore major military campaigns fought in Western Europe during the second world war. This includes:

  • The German drive to the coast in 1940
  • The continuation of the 1940 campaign after Dunkirk
  • The projected German Operation Sealion to invade the British Isles and British counter-preparations
  • British offensive strategy prior to the Normandy invasion
  • The amphibious landing in Normandy in June 1944
  • The Battle of the Bulge
  • Crossing the Rhine

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will consider the relationship between American literature and the physical and symbolic spaces of its settings. In American culture concepts of space and setting have a particular relevance that dates back to events such as the declaration of independence, the founding of civic spaces, and the Californian gold rush. You will be challenged to think creatively, critically, and innovatively about physical space and literature. In doing so we will explore the relationship between American socio-economic history and the development of a specifically American literary tradition.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will examine, confront and evaluate the historical debates surrounding the American Civil War. You will learn about the campaigns and strategies of the war itself, as well as its social and political impact and its lasting cultural legacy. You will also consider the social and political forces that have shaped how this period has been retold in historical and pop culture representations. This will open wider discussion about how wars are remembered and commemorated.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will focus on the experience of African Americans both as enslaved people and in the years following the abolition of slavery. You will learn about the origins, development and abolition of slavery in the USA, assessing the impact and nature of the American slave system. We will discuss contemporary responses of both African Americans and white Americans to slavery, relationships between races after slavery ended, and the emergence of cultural expression among African Americans.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will explore how America has imagined itself through film, identifying historical patterns, trends and continuities. We examine how American myths and ideologies have dominated attempts to define the national imagination. This could include:

  • The mythology of the frontier
  • The myth of the open road in the countercultural 1960s
  • Regional identities of the south, California, the midwest or New York

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will investigate the experience and impact of war on both civilians and soldiers. We will explore this through a series of case studies focusing on wartime experiences from York and its surrounding area. You will make use of first-hand accounts of battle and cinematic representations of combat, using these sources to explore some of the philosophical questions arising from attempts to understand and depict warfare. A series of tours and walks will help bring the historic resources on our doorstep to life.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will explore the role, function and evolution of peace organisations throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. You will learn about their origin and formation, evaluating the effectiveness of their practices. We will explore a range of primary sources and public debates to investigate the processes behind organisations such as:

  • The League of Nations
  • The United Nations
  • The African Union
  • NATO
  • The Warsaw Pact
  • Amnesty International

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will encounter varied and interesting texts produced within and written about major conflicts of the 20th and early 21st centuries. We will start with depictions of the mechanised horror of the Western Front and progress through representations of:

  • The Second World War
  • The Spanish Civil War
  • Vietnam
  • The Troubles in Northern Ireland
  • 9/11 and the War on Terror

We will read texts by writers as diverse as Martha Gellhorn, George Orwell and Kurt Vonnegut, and examine the complex relationship between language, experience and memory.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will examine the history of the United States since the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001. You will explore a range of issues that have impacted American politics, culture and society in the years since these events. Your learning will be informed by the wider ideological, cultural and political history of the United States.

Topics may include:

  • The War on Terror
  • Fake news
  • LGBTQ+ rights
  • American conspiracies such as the birther movement and Q-Anon
  • Response to crises such as 2008 recession and the Covid 19 pandemic

Year 3

In your third year, if you are a full time student, you will study:

  • A dissertation module across semesters 1 and 2. This can be focused on either American Studies or War Studies.
  • 1 compulsory module
  • 3 optional modules

You will study 3 modules per semester, but some modules can vary year on year whether they fall in semester 1 or 2.

If you are a part time student, the modules above will be split over 2 years.

You can find out which modules are available in each semester on the Course Specifications.

You must choose at least 1 module from each subject every semester. Optional modules will run if they receive enough interest. It is not guaranteed that all modules will run every year.

Modules

Credits: 40

Compulsory module

On this year-long module you will working independently to research a topic of your choice, using primary sources, cultural literature and advanced secondary sources. It is the culmination of your degree studies, and your chance to explore a topic that you are passionate about. A dissertation supervisor will help you define and develop your project throughout the year.

Credits: 20

Optional module

This module will examine a selection of texts from 20th century American literature, and relate these works to their cultural, social and political backgrounds. We will focus on texts that demonstrate formal innovation and experimentation, and the selection will reflect the variety of twentieth century American experience. You will read Native American, African American and Chinese-American texts alongside literature produced in the wake of radical social change such as Beat writing, Vietnam narratives, and responses to 9/11.

On this module you will explore American history, culture and politics as you consider the ideas and values behind the USA’s military past. We will investigate how Americans have experienced war, and how this experience has been represented in film, literature, music and more. Some of the topics you will encounter include:

  • War and American national identity
  • Early American war and colonisation
  • American military strategy and leadership
  • War and rhetoric in American political culture
  • The Traumatic impact of war on American soldiers and veterans

 

Credits: 20

Optional module

This is an opportunity to study a specialist area relating to American Studies, in this case focusing on detective fiction in literature and film. The topics chosen for Special Subject modules are closely related to staff research interest, meaning your work will be aligned with current research. 

Credits: 20

Optional module

On our Special Subject modules you will investigate an area which our team has a particular specialism in, contributing to research and developing specialist research skills. This Special Subject will focus on the politics, policies and developments related to the office and holders of the American presidency. 

Credits: 20

Optional module

This module will examine a selection of texts from 20th century American literature, and relate these works to their cultural, social and political backgrounds. We will focus on texts that demonstrate formal innovation and experimentation, and the selection will reflect the variety of twentieth century American experience. You will read Native American, African American and Chinese-American texts alongside literature produced in the wake of radical social change such as Beat writing, Vietnam narratives, and responses to 9/11.

 

Credits: 20

Optional modules

This is an opportunity to study a specialist area within your chosen historical era. The topics are closely related to staff research interest, meaning your work will be aligned with our current research. This will help you develop your skills in research and historical investigation.

Through these special subject modules you can choose to explore topics such as:

  • Special Subject in Military History: War in the East, 1940-45
  • Special Subject in War Studies: the Vietnam War
  • Special Subject in Modern International History: Origins of the Second World War
  • Special Subject in the History of the Cold War: The Korean War

 

 

Teaching and assessment

Teaching and learning

On this course you will experience many different teaching methods and techniques. From lectures and interactive workshops to seminars, we encourage both independent and collaborative learning. As well as working with others, you will have opportunities for 1 to 1 meetings with tutors, who will provide you with additional support.

Your learning is also enhanced through field trips within the historic city of York to uncover the past in our archives, and the built environment all around us.

Alongside your timetabled contact time, you will be expected to study independently. This will ensure that you get the most out of your degree, as well as building valuable time management skills.

You will be encouraged to use the widest possible range of resources for your studies, including:

  • Books
  • Journals
  • Visual material
  • Archives
  • Museums, galleries and historic buildings

Our teaching draws on both our research and professional experience. This means your learning is informed by the most current thinking in the subject area. You can find out more about our research and backgrounds by visiting our staff pages.

Assessment

A wide range of assessment methods are used throughout your degree. These include:

  • Essays
  • Primary source exercises
  • Reviews
  • Site reports
  • Open and closed examination
  • Reflective pieces
  • Coursework portfolios

During the final year of your degree, you will complete a research Dissertation on a subject of your choice. This is where you will bring together all of the key historical and academic skills you will have built throughout the degree.

Career outcomes

Your future with a degree in American Studies and War Studies

This broad, interdisciplinary degree opens up a wide variety of career options. This course teaches you to solve complex problems through independent critical thinking, use varied sources of information to form conclusions, and present your arguments both verbally and in writing. These are valuable skills in diverse professional settings.

This degree could be the first step toward your career in:

  • Journalism
  • Heritage and Tourism
  • The armed forces
  • Civil service
  • International aid
  • Law

Discover more career options on Prospects careers advice pages

Postgraduate degrees at York St John University

History MA

History MA by research

Whatever your ambitions, we can help you get there.

Our careers service, LaunchPad provides career support tailored to your ambitions. Through this service you can access:

  • Employer events
  • LinkedIn, CV and cover letter sessions
  • Workshops on application writing and interview skills
  • Work experience and volunteering opportunities
  • Personalised career advice

This support doesn't end when you graduate. You can access our expert career advice for the rest of your life. We will help you gain experience and confidence to succeed.

Entry requirements

Qualifications

Minimum entry requirements

    104 UCAS Tariff points

    3 GCSEs at grade C/4 (or equivalent) including English Language.

Calculate your UCAS Tariff points

International students

If you are an international student you will need to show that your qualifications match our entry requirements.

Information about international qualifications and entry requirements can be found on our International pages.

If English is not your first language you will need to show that you have English Language competence at IELTS level 6.0 (with no skill below 5.5) or equivalent.

International entry requirements

This course is available with a foundation year

If you do not yet meet the minimum requirements for entry straight onto this degree course, or feel you are not quite ready for the transition to Higher Education, this is a great option for you. Passing a foundation year guarantees you a place on this degree course the following academic year.

Liberal Arts foundation year

Mature Learners Entry Scheme

If you have been out of education for 3 years or more and have a grade C GCSE in English Language or equivalent, you are eligible for our entry scheme for mature learners. It's a scheme that recognises non-traditional entry qualifications and experience for entry onto this course. Information on how to apply can be found on our dedicated page.

Mature entry offer scheme

Fees and funding

To study for an undergraduate degree with us, you will need to pay tuition fees for your course. How much you pay depends on whether you live inside the UK, or internationally (outside the UK). Tuition fees may be subject to inflation in future years.

UK 2024 entry

The tuition fee for 2024 entry onto this course is:

  • £9,250 per year for full time study
  • £6,935 per year for the first 4 years if you study part time

These prices apply to all UK, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students

You can find out more about funding your degree by visiting our funding opportunities page:

Funding Opportunities

Placement year funding

If you choose to take a placement year, and your course offers it, you can apply for the Tuition Fee and Maintenance Loan for your placement year. How much you are awarded is based on the type of placement being undertaken and whether it is a paid or unpaid placement. The tuition fee for your placement year will be reduced.

Tuition fees

    UK 2024 entry £9,250 per year full time

    International 2024 entry £11,500 per year full time

International 2024 entry

The tuition fee for 2024 entry to this course is £11,500 per year for full time study.

This price applies to all students living outside the UK.

Due to immigration laws, if you are an international student on a Student Visa, you must study full time. For more information about visa requirements and short-term study visas, please visit the International Visa and Immigration pages.

Find out more about funding your degree:

International fees and funding

Additional costs and financial support

There may also be some additional costs to take into account throughout your studies, including the cost of accommodation.

Course-related costs

While studying for your degree, there may be additional costs related to your course. This may include purchasing personal equipment and stationery, books and optional field trips.

Study Abroad

For more information on tuition fee reductions and additional costs for studying abroad, please visit our study abroad pages.

Accommodation and living costs

For detailed information on accommodation and living costs, visit our Accommodation pages.

Financial help and support

Our Funding Advice team are here to help you with your finances throughout your degree. They offer a personal service that can help you with funding your studies and budgeting for living expenses. 

For advice on everything from applying for scholarships to finding additional financial support email fundingadvice@yorksj.ac.uk.

Course highlights

More to explore

Student writing in notebook at table

Join us in 2024

Two female students smiling in York

What makes us different

Get in touch