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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 either the nature of war or 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.

York campus

  • UCAS Code – L2K6
  • Duration – 3 years full time, 6 years part time
  • Start date – September 2022
  • 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 and EU 2021 entry £9,250 per year full time

    International 2021 entry £12,750 per year full time

Course overview

Allowing you to explore 2 fascinating areas in great depth, 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 on this course include analytical thinking, verbal and written communication, constructing arguments and presentation skills.

Through your War Studies modules you will investigate the process of war, exploring how they 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 history, literature, cinema, popular culture and music, 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 Yorkshire 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:

  • 4 compulsory modules
  • 2 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.

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

On this module we will introduce you to American Studies as an interdisciplinary academic subject. You will gain 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. You will explore themes such as 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

Optional 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

Optional module

On this module you will tackle the complex question of why wars do or do not occur. We will introduce you to a range of historical and theoretical arguments that attempt to answer this question, and which will be relevant throughout your course. You will investigate this question through analysis of case studies ranging from ancient to present day conflicts. We will encourage you to consider broad themes across these case studies and carry out comparative analysis between them.

Credits: 20

Optional 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 how you can use media to research and understand war.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

This module is your introduction to 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. You will learn the skills of cinematic analysis which will allow you to make the best use of this important medium, as well as discussing the importance of cinema within American society.

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.

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 History, Community and Culture 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

Optional module

This module is a great opportunity to improve your employability and start thinking about your career. You will consider how history, and the skills you have developed by studying it, relate to potential career paths. As part of this module you will participate in a 75 hour work placement. You will need to secure this placement yourself, but you can take advantage of the many connections we have established with heritage organisations in York and the wider region.

Credits: 20

Optional 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.

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. You 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 slavery 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 frame these discussions through the contemporary responses of both African Americans and white Americans concerning slavery, relationships between races after slavery ended, and the emergence of cultural expression among African Americans.

Credits: 20

Optional module

From Obama to Beyoncé to the Black Lives Matter movement, the African American experience is a major influence on our contemporary political, cultural, and social landscape. Starting with the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s and continuing through to the present day, we will discuss key African American novels, plays, and poems. We will consider these alongside music, film, art, and political writings to understand how black writers have responded to and shaped American culture and history.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will investigate the experience and impact of war on both civilians and soldiers. We 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.

You 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.

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

This year long module will involve 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.

Credits: 20

Optional module

These modules are an opportunity to study a specialist area relating to American Studies or War Studies. The topics are closely related to staff research interests, meaning your work will be aligned with current research. This will help you develop your skills in research and historical investigation.

Examples of previous Special Subject projects are:

  • American History: Reagan and his Legacy
  • American Culture: US Crime Fiction and Film
  • War Studies: The International Origins of the Second World War
  • Military History: War in the East: 1940-45.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching and learning

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 are 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.

You could also progress onto a postgraduate degree and take your learning even further.

Postgraduate degrees at York St John University

American Studies MA

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. It's your career, your way.

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 EU, or internationally (outside the UK/EU). Tuition fees may be subject to inflation in future years.

UK and EU 2022 entry

The tuition fee for 2022 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/EU, 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 and EU 2021 entry £9,250 per year full time

    International 2021 entry £12,750 per year full time

International 2022 entry

The tuition fee for 2022 entry to this course is £12,750 per year for full time study.

This price applies to all students living outside the UK/EU.

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

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