Our five-year BA American Studies (United States) with Film (including foundation year and year abroad), will be suitable for you if your academic qualifications do not yet meet our entrance requirements for the four-year version of this course and you want a programme that increases your subject knowledge as well as improves your academic skills in order to support your academic performance.
This five-year course includes a foundation year (Year Zero), followed by a further three years of study, plus a study abroad year or term. During your Year Zero, you study three academic subjects relevant to your chosen course as well as a compulsory academic skills module, with additional English language for non-English speakers.
You are an Essex student from day one, a member of our global community based at the most internationally diverse campus university in the UK.
After successful completion of Year Zero in our Essex Pathways Department, you progress to complete your course with our Interdisciplinary Studies Centre.
Our multidisciplinary course enables you to assess American contributions to our understanding of political, historical, social and cultural perspectives of the world. You combine studies of the US with a number of options in film studies offered by our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, Department of History, and School of Philosophy and Art History.
Crucially, you also spend either a term or a full academic year studying in the United States, so you can explore and become immersed in American culture.
The degree is built to be extremely flexible and student-led, and as you progress through the course you can choose from an enormous range of options from across the humanities and social sciences including:
- Contemporary social issues, such as the struggles for racial justice
- The legacies of slavery and the civil rights movement
- Environmental protection of the ‘wilderness’ of the Far West
- Native American histories and rights
Based within our Interdisciplinary Studies Centre (ISC), American studies offers a truly multidisciplinary approach, giving you knowledge of the many ways to understand key areas of the American experience. You draw on multiple perspectives in order to reach a deeper understanding of the world we inhabit, opening up exciting possibilities to discover the American continent. The cities, vast open plains, mountains and deserts shape diverse and intriguing ways of life.
We are ranked Top 20 for Dance, Drama and Cinematics in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021.
Your education extends beyond our University campus. In your third year, you spend either one term or one year at one of the American universities with whom we have an exchange agreement, depending on whether you take the four-year variant of this course.
Your fourth year is spent studying abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three and four-year courses.
We have exchange partners with fifteen excellent academic institutions across the United States, from New Mexico to Massachusetts, including upstate New York, the Deep South, Miami and California.
Studying abroad allows you to explore and become immersed in American culture, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.
If you spend a full year abroad you’ll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won’t pay any tuition fees to your host university
Our expert staff
We have some of the best teachers across the University in our Essex Pathways Department, all of whom have strong subject backgrounds and are highly skilled in their areas.
In our Interdisciplinary Studies Centre we are a team of internationally recognised writers and lecturers with expertise across the arts, humanities and social sciences. As well as being one of the UK’s leading universities for social science and the highest ranking institution for political science, Essex academics are world leaders in human rights and pioneers in the literature and arts of the Americas.
Our American studies staff teach in departments across the university, and specialise in a wide range of topics including American history, law, literature, film, politics, and sociology.
Current research is exploring American politics and the electorate, cinematic images of the American Pacific, politics and land rights of the native Innu of Labrador in Canada, civil rights and African American history, and American crime fiction.
The Centre for Film and Screen Media at Essex is part of a unique literary conservatoire that offers talented students the support and confidence to respond both critically and artistically to the study of film. This distinctive environment is possible because we are a community of award-winning film-makers, scholars, and media specialists; our staff over the years have included Oscar winners and BAFTA winners.
Our academic staff in the Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies specialise in a range of areas including filmmaking, film theory, Soviet cinema, US cinema, films of the Asia and Pacific regions, modernism and the avant-garde, adaptation, silent cinema, screenwriting and production.
By studying within our Essex Pathways Department for your foundation year, you will have access to all of the facilities that the University of Essex has to offer, as well as those provided by our department to support you:
- We provide computer labs for internet research; classrooms with access to PowerPoint facilities for student presentations; AV facilities for teaching and access to web-based learning materials.
- Our Student Services Hub will support you and provide information for all your needs as a student
- Our social space is stocked with hot magazines and newspapers, and provides an informal setting to meet with your lecturers, tutors and friends.
Take advantage of our other extensive learning resources to assist you in your studies:
- Our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is the largest of its kind in Europe
- View classic films at weekly film screenings in our dedicated 120-seat film theatre, equipped with digital HD projection facilities and surround sound
- Join student film societies and the Centre for Film and Screen Media, which screen and discuss both recent blockbusters and less mainstream arthouse films
- Hear writers talk about their craft and learn from leading specialists at weekly research seminars
- Join Rebel Media and take advantage of the SU’s professional standard media suite and broadcasting facilities
- Attend an exciting programme of events
As a graduate in American Studies, you’ll have gained a wide-ranging knowledge of many aspects of American life. You’ll acquire essential critical abilities as well as excellent communication skills.
This is excellent preparation for careers in media, education, politics, the Civil Service, international organisations such as UN and NATO or non-governmental organisations, and many other fields. Our recent graduates have gone on to work in various desirable roles including:
- Account executive for Bluesky PR
- Business provision manager for BT
- Events co-ordinator for Age UK
We also nurture the creative talent for tomorrow, developing filmmakers, scholars, and thinkers with a dynamic worldview:
- Gain hands-on experience of camera work, sound recording, editing, lighting, and scriptwriting
- Explore the formal aesthetics of film composition and structure in relation to different contexts of production and reception
- Discover the history and social significance of film as a global medium
- Understand the links between critical analysis and creative practice
- Produce both group films and personal projects
We also work with the university’s Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
Why we’re great
- We equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed at Essex and beyond.
- Guarantee your place on your chosen course if you successfully complete your foundation year at Essex.
- Small class sizes allow you to work closely with your teachers and classmates.
We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of core/compulsory modules, and optional modules chosen from lists.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore all modules listed are subject to change. Your course structure could differ based on the modules you choose. To view the compulsory modules and full list of optional modules currently on offer, please view the programme specification via the link below.
Teaching and learning disclaimer
Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.
The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently approved for 2022 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.
On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.
- Your teaching mainly takes the form of lectures and classes, the latter involving about 20 students
- A typical timetable includes a one-hour lecture and a one-hour class for each of your four modules every week
- Any language classes involve language laboratory sessions
- Our classes are run in small groups, so you receive a lot of individual attention
- Your assessed coursework will generally consist of essays, reports, in-class tests, book reviews, individual or group oral presentations, and small scale research projects