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Undergraduate Course

History and American Studies BA (Hons)

Study history in a city where the past is all around you, while also exploring the history, culture and politics of the USA.

Class discussion about Martin Luther King

American Studies is a varied academic subject which takes in literature, popular culture, politics, film and much more. Through this Joint Honours degree you will gain a deep understanding of America’s history, alongside a wider appreciation of historical debates and research.

92% of History students felt that feedback on their work had been timely. (National Student Survey 2020)

York campus

  • UCAS Code – VT17
  • Duration – 3 years full time, 6 years part time
  • Start date – September 2021
  • 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

Discover why York St John is The One

Course overview

On this degree you will study many different historical periods and approach the history of the USA from many different angles. This makes it a great choice if you have varied interests and prefer not to be tied down to a single academic discipline.

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

Alongside your American history modules, you will have the opportunity to study others spanning many different historical periods and locations, from Ancient Rome to Mao’s China. In your final year you will also contribute to some of the ongoing research taking place within the department, taking advantage of the new developments being explored by our academic team.

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:

  • 2 compulsory modules and 1 optional module in semester 1
  • 2 compulsory modules and 1 optional module in semester 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

This module will help you gain the most important skills needed to be a successful historian. Focusing on analytical interpretation rather than historical narrative, this module will prepare you for the independent study skills required for degree level study. You will explore how historians:

  • Examine primary sources
  • Write and engage with secondary sources
  • Construct arguments and apply theories
  • Work with established historical concepts
  • Question conventions and established time periods in history.

Credits: 20

Compulsoryl module

On this module we 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. 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 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 1 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.

Credits: 20

Optional module

This module is your introduction to the history of York, from medieval to the Regency period. This will mean exploring the city, making use of its resources and thinking critically about how we can assess changes through time. Taking York as a case study, the module explores social and cultural development within the city. You will also consider the dialogue between York’s evolution and changes in national and global history. We will take a thematic approach, focusing on ongoing developments such as trade, public health and religion.

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 we will introduce you to the study of historical buildings, and their role in history. You will explore how history is expressed in the built environment and how it lives on around us. Using the buildings, spaces and resources in and around York, you will immerse yourself in this important aspect of history. We will encourage you to challenge existing narratives and assumptions, as you consider the relationship between sites, history and heritage.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will explore how human societies and the natural world have interacted and reshaped each other through time. This involves taking environmental, social and cultural approaches to history simultaneously. You will discover how nature has influenced society and people’s understanding of their place in the world. You will also evaluate the impact that social developments have environmental issues. Through this you will be introduced to important concepts in social history, considering contemporary approaches to gender, race, power and the history of emotions.

Credits: 20

Optional module

The legacies of empire continue to influence the domestic and international political, economic, social and cultural landscapes today. On this module you will investigate the experience of imperialism by comparing empires from diverse geographical and chronological contexts. You will explore the concepts of empire, imperialism and colonialism, and discover the important role played by empires throughout history. We will look in depth at the emergence, internal relationships and legacies of empires, from European colonial powers to ancient civilizations.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will explore the theme of revolution across different times and places within European history. We will consider revolution in a broad way, defining it as episodes of significant and rapid political and social upheaval. You will consider the causes, developments and consequences of both successful and failed revolutions. The case studies we cover may include:

  • The English Revolution
  • The French Revolution
  • European revolutions of the early nineteenth century
  • Revolutions in the early twentieth century, including Russia, Germany and Hungary
  • Revolutions and the World Wars.

Year 2

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

  • 1 compulsory module and 2 optional modules in semester 1
  • 3 optional modules in semester 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 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. 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 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

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

This module builds on the Year 1 module Research and Presenting the Past, allowing you to develop your research skills even further. You will conduct project work in groups and engage in independent research that will prepare you for the dissertation module in your final year. We will discuss the importance of primary sources for understanding an event, period or theme. This may include opportunities to work with local archives. We will also look in detail at various schools of historical theory and methodology.

Credits: 20

Optional module

Despite the horrors of the Black Death, devastation of famine and ravages of the Hundred Years War, 14th century England was also sparkled with artistic and literary achievement. On this module you will explore the ideals and ideas existing alongside the trauma of conflict to understand the complexities of the period. You will assess developments in political culture to better understand the challenges and achievements of the period.

Credits: 20

Optional module

Examine early modern English Society from the beginning of the Reformation in the 1540s to the Restoration in the 1660s. This module explores how people negotiated their everyday lives in a world that was becoming ever more watchful of their political loyalties and personal morality. You will investigate this period through a range of primary sources, engaging with them in creative ways to understand the everyday lived experiences of the time. These could include:

  • State papers
  • Court records
  • Petitions
  • Documents relating to parish life.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will take a gendered and cultural approach to 16th century British history. This is a fascinating period to study the changes in power, autonomy and image of women. You will find new perspectives on a much discussed period in history, exploring how political and religious movements affected the lived experiences of women from across society. We will consider how these women presented themselves, and how they have been represented since.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will study the history of the Soviet Union, from the October Revolution in 1917 to the collapse of the Soviet experiment in 1991. In doing so you will identify the underlying reasons for both the rise and the fall of the Soviet state, as well as assessing its impact on the rest of the world. You will examine Soviet communism from various different perspectives, taking in political, economic, social, military and cultural history.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will study the Victorian period from a social and cultural historical angle. We explore food and eating from various overlapping perspectives. You will consider how food and eating were shaped by broad historical changes such as:

  • Colonialism
  • Industrialisation
  • Science and technology
  • Medical advancements
  • Print culture.

You will examine cookbooks as historical documents, along with other primary sources relating to food production and consumption in Britain, France and their empires. Through case studies you will engage with debates about the connections between food and everyday life, class, gender, race and civilisation.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will learn about the social and political history of Britain from the union of Scotland and England in 1707 until the crowning of Queen Victoria. This was a period of enormous political, social and economic change, which also saw Britain rapidly assuming a leading position amongst the world’s major powers. Topics you cover may include:

  • The Hanoverian succession
  • The Jacobite rebellion
  • Imperial expansion
  • Industrialisation
  • Trade, commerce and capitalism, including the slave trade
  • The American Revolution
  • The Napoleonic Wars.

Credits: 20

Optional module

The 1960s were a turbulent time for the USA. President Lyndon Johnson was embarking on a series of reforms aiming to create “the Great Society” at the same time as the seemingly endless war in Vietnam. It was also a time of great achievements, with America leading the first moon landings. Topics you will cover on this module include:

  • The image and domestic policies of the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon presidencies
  • Radicalism and dissent, including counterculture, urban riots and student protests
  • The domestic impact of the Vietnam War.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will examine the traumatic history of China throughout the lifetime of Mao Zedong. You will confront and evaluate the historical debates surrounding China’s transition from the world’s oldest imperial power to a revolutionary Communist state. In doing so you will consider the political, ideological, economic, military, social and cultural forces that shaped these events. Given China's modern status as a major world power, learning about its turbulent past and Mao's legacy will help you to understand wider global developments.

Credits: 20

Optional module

This module will focus on the Roman Empire in the first century AD, exploring what life was really like under imperial rule across society and across the empire. This will mean looking in depth at famous figures like Tiberius, Caligula and Nero, known for their violence and cruelty, as well as those like Vespasian whose legacy is more favourable. You will engage closely with different kinds of primary materials, including written sources but also archaeology, art, coins and inscriptions.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will have the chance to get involved with some of the research taking place within our department. The content will be different every year, depending on the current research taking place in the academic team, the resources available and what you and your course mates are interested in. This is an opportunity to be part of our ongoing contribution to historical knowledge and to build your research skills before starting your dissertation in the final year.

Credits: 20

Optional module

In the early 20th century France had a pivotal role in both world wars, suffering both invasion and conquest and undergoing a traumatic process of decolonisation. On this module you will learn about France’s role on the world stage as a political, military, imperial and cultural force. You will consider both the impact of international forces upon France and the country’s influence on the course of world history.

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

On this module we will consider the role of popular music as an essential and integral part of American culture and society. You will interrogate the social, cultural and economic context of popular music production, with reference to genres such as Jazz and Blues which emerged and developed in the USA. You will also consider how music can develop as a soundtrack to popular histories, and to construct and position cultural memory.

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 – for example:

  • 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

This module will give you the opportunity to explore a range of nonfiction texts including:

  • Journalism
  • Creative non-fiction
  • Fictocriticism
  • Manifestos
  • Blogs and online journals
  • Documentary, travel and life writing.

You will develop your understanding of voice, structure and audience in relation to these forms and consider the blurred lines between fact and fiction in nonfiction writing. By viewing, reading and watching a range of nonfictional texts we will ask you to make the links between creative and critical writing, and to produce your own nonfictional texts.

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 History or American Studies
  • 2 optional modules in semester 1
  • 2 optional modules in semester 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 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 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:

  • The Fall of the Roman Republic
  • The War of the Roses
  • The English Revolution
  • Britain against Napoleon
  • The Korean War
  • The Russian Revolution
  • The Vietnam War
  • Reagan and his America
  • International Origins of the Second World War.
  • American History: Reagan and his Legacy
  • American Culture: American Crime Store (detective fiction in literature and film).

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will approach contemporary popular culture as a site of ideological, political and cultural expression. You will assess the ways in which popular forms such as animation, comic books, movies, television, music and social media react to the social and cultural conversations of their time. This includes everything from discussions around race, class and gender to concerns about security and politics. We also consider how popular culture can draw from, make use of and subvert ideas and imagery from the cultural past.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will consider and debate how America represents moments of conflict and trauma to itself and the world. On both a personal and a cultural level trauma can be dealt with by playing it out in a fictionalised form, and we will examine how America has attempted to exorcise its demons through film and TV. This will be in reference to major historical events such as the Civil War, the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement and their portrayal on the big or small screen.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will investigate the longstanding partnership between Britain and the USA since 1945, including its role in the construction of post war international institutions and forming the defence structures of the cold war. We will explore the difficulties which emerged within the relationship, and assess it’s continuing importance in the present day. We will also consider the extensive cultural exchange between the two countries.

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 which have shaped the way 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 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 wars of colonization
  • American military strategy and leadership
  • War and rhetoric in American political culture
  • The Traumatic impact of war on American soldiers and veterans.

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. This includes:

  • 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 History and American Studies

Your future with a degree in History and American 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:

  • Historical research
  • Journalism
  • Heritage and Tourism
  • Historic building conservation
  • Law
  • Archives and curation.

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

History MA

International History MA

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

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. You can read them on our Admissions page.

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 2021 entry

The tuition fee for 2021 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 2021 entry

The tuition fee for 2021 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. 

All undergraduates receive financial support through the York St John Aspire card. Find out more about the Aspire scheme and how it can be used to help you purchase equipment you need for your course. 

ASPIRE CARD

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