BA American History

Full Time
Degree of Bachelor of Arts

UCAS Course Code
A-Level typical
ABB (2017/8 entry) See All Requirements
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This degree programme allows you to focus your studies on the history of the United States and its people, its emergence as a world superpower and its influence on global culture. It tracks the American story from the Revolution through the years of slavery and Civil War, the settlement of the West, and the development of modern society.


You will have the opportunity to find out everything from Native American history to the world of enslaved communities in the Old South, the struggles of black Civil Rights activists to the crucial decisions of the Presidents – who, by the atomic age of the Cold War, held the fate of humanity in their hands. By the end of your degree, you will know the American story in depth – but you will also have a keen understanding of how much of the modern world in which we live today has been shaped by this young nation, and how the history of the United States has been intimately connected with that of the rest of the globe.

Course Structure

This four year degree programme begins at UEA with core modules that introduce to many aspects of American history. You will then have the opportunity to tailor your degree programme, selecting optional modules from a wide range in your second and final years. The third year is spent studying abroad.

Year 1

In your first year you will study introductory modules that take you through America’s past to the present day and introduce you to the major themes in US history – from the meaning of ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty’ and ‘democracy’ to the importance of, for example, the flag or the idea of the frontier. In addition, a year-long module, Reading Cultures, gives you the critical and writing skills essential for success on this course.

Year 2

In the second year, you have a wide range of more specialist options, for example, the Cold War and American foreign interventions, the 1960s and the Vietnam War, Native American history, slavery and the Civil Rights movement, and to consider the significance of gender, race, or class in America’s past. There is also a range of interdisciplinary options giving you the opportunity to choose from thematic American Studies modules in topics such as, urban culture, music and film.

Year 3 (Year Abroad)

Your third year is spent abroad. Students on a four-year programme spend their third year studying in America or Canada - with the option of spending one of those semesters in Australia, New Zealand, or Hong Kong. See the “Year Abroad” tab for more details.

Year 4

In your final year, you write a research dissertation on a topic of your choice, guided by your UEA supervisor. You also have a range of final-year modules to choose from. These could include a year-long documents-based ‘special subject’; topics in the past have included the Cold War, slavery, Native American history, and the Civil Rights movement. You also have a choice of advanced history modules taking an in-depth look at major topics such as the Supreme Court or the CIA, or gender in America. You can also choose from a range of interdisciplinary modules on subjects such as violence, the American city, land and culture, popular music, or crisis and culture in the 21st century.


Assessment takes place at the end of each semester through coursework, and at the end of each year by examination. In your final year, you will write a dissertation on a topic of your choice with the support of your tutors, therefore there is no final examination. Your final degree result is determined by the marks you receive in years two and four.

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Study Abroad

What We Offer

We offer every one of our undergraduate students enrolled on a four year degree programme the opportunity to study abroad during their third year at one of forty-eight universities across the US and Canada – from New England to California, Alaska to Louisiana, Vancouver to Montreal.

Our Year Abroad programme has been running for over 30 years and is the largest in the UK for American Studies. Students are able to study in the US or Canada for a full year, or choose to split the year between North America, Hong Kong and Australasia (where we currently have 20+ partner institutions), and so experience American Studies from a Pacific Rim point of view, as well as the Atlantic perspective gained while at the University of East Anglia.

For more information please see the Study Abroad website.

Why do a Year Abroad?

Study abroad is a unique educational opportunity that can enhance your studies, but can also demonstrate a range of skills and provide key experiences that are sought by employers. Studying abroad can provide students with increased self-awareness, the ability to adapt to new situations, as well as an increased understanding of different cultural perspectives. Spending time studying overseas also allows students to demonstrate the ability to work and communicate in different cultural contexts, skills that are of vital importance to a range of international employers.

Studying abroad also provides an opportunity to meet new people and experience new things that can have a positive effect on a student’s academic progression. Students often return to UEA after their year abroad with a new sense of confidence and enthusiasm for their subject. Having experienced different teaching methods and subjects, students are also able to bring a range of new skills and perspectives into he classroom during their final year of study.

To find out more about our student experiences of overseas study you can read the following blog entries about studying at Temple University and the University of Western Ontario by our current students Kitty MacKay and Ainsley Bowmer.


The advantage of our exchange programme is that you do not pay tuition to your exchange institution. These costs are covered by the tuition fees you pay here, and moreover, for the year you are overseas you only pay a percentage of your standard tuition fee (currently 15 per cent for Home/EU students and 25 per cent for international students)*.

Accommodation costs must be paid and vary in each institution.
*Please note that fees are subject to annual review.

Our Partner Institutions

See the map below for a full list of our current partner institutions. Please note that these agreements are reviewed and renewed periodically. In addition to this, we consistently form exchange agreements with new institutions across the US, Canada, Australasia and Hong Kong:

Course Modules

Students must study the following modules for 120 credits:

Name Code Credits


This course aims to introduce you to some of the basic tools you will need for a degree in the School of American Studies. It is designed to provide you with the skills required for the assessed work you will be doing in your other core modules; you are also encouraged to bring in questions, thoughts and examples from those other modules.




The module develops and expands the research methods, writing skills, and oral skills acquired in Reading Cultures I: American Icons. By continuing the exploration of contemporary American culture and introducing cultural and critical theory as a means to engage with current ideas and ideologies circulating around American cultural icons, the module will encourage exploration of America's changing position in the world. The module is intended to further facilitate skills in reading, writing, analysis, synthesis, independent thinking, and confidence as self-supporting learners in order to provide a strong foundation for work at levels 2 and 3.




This module will enable students to master the basic practical and intellectual skills required for studying history at university. This will be done through a combination of close study of a key historical text (C. Van Woodward's The Strange Career of Jim Crow - first published in 1955), the literature and debates surrounding it, as well as a number of dedicated skills sessions. Students will consider what it means to study history, whilst examining the ways in which historical scholarship has been shaped by contemporary political events. Seminars will provide an overview of major historiographical currents relating to US history, discuss different methodological approaches to the subject, and provide students with training in primary source research, analysis and interpretation.




This module builds upon the skills learned in "Historians and Their Craft" by offering students a survey of the different ways in which historians have approached the writing of American History. Focusing weekly on these different historiographical approaches (progressive history, labour history, gender history and the "linguistic turn," to name just a few) students will learn how the work of historians has been shaped by the context of their time and that the discipline of History itself has a history and a politics.




The compulsory module will offer a fundamental challenge to the opening lines of the American Constitution, "We the People", and consider the question of inclusion: who did "the people" refer to and who was excluded from this term of reference? The end of the eighteenth century saw a marked shift in how people understood the political structures they lived under. Starting with an examination of revolutionary movements that were taking place throughout Europe and the Americas, this module will examine how these political upheavals shaped the history of the United States up until 1865. Lecture and seminar discussions will include the radical underpinnings of the creation of the American Constitution; the Second Great Awakening; the reconfiguration of gender identities and ideals in the post-revolutionary period; Native American resistance to white settlement during the first half of the nineteenth century.




This survey module provides students with an introduction to the broad outlines of American history from 1865 to 1945. It will follow a chronological sequence with weekly topics on the major themes and events in US history since 1865 - including African American challenges to slavery and the construction of "race" as a legal category, the Civil War as the second American Revolution and the abolition of slavery, Reconstruction; the closing of the frontier, the war of 1898, Depression, New Deal, and the World Wars to explore the impact of major political, economic, cultural, and social change in the United States.



Students must study the following modules for 80 credits:

Name Code Credits

Black Freedom Struggle: The Civil Rights Movement

This is the second of two modules examining the black freedom struggle in the United States. This module examines the struggle from 1865 to Black Lives Matter. Students will study the political activism of African American figures such as Sojourner Truth, Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, Mary McLeod Bethune and Angela Davis. Students will gain a detailed understanding of the race, gender and class dimensions of the 'long' civil rights movement, paying specific attention to the activism of black women organisers. Finally, the module will encourage students to think through the diverse and changing nature of the civil rights movement as black activists responded to specific political situations both within the United States and abroad.



Black Freedom Struggles: Slavery, 1619-1865

This is the first of two modules examining the black freedom struggle in the United States. The module will follow a chronological sequence, allowing us to trace the course of racial slavery in North America, reflecting on the roots of racism that flourished during the antebellum years and beyond. Through engaging with the developing historiography of slavery in the United States students will gain a deeper understanding of contemporary (then and now) debates concerning race and racial identity as well as American slavery per se. We will be interrogating various sources found in the Morgan Reader alongside representations of slavery in novels, cinema, and oral histories.



EXCEPTIONAL STATES: US Intellectual and Cultural History

Exceptional States is designed to allow you to grapple with some of the distinctive, some have said exceptional, ways in which Americans have viewed the world, interpreted their own society, their own past, their own literary and artistic traditions#that is, their own culture. It will give you a key to understanding 'the American mind', or to put it another way, American ways of thinking. It is in a sense intended to enable you to approach your subject#whether that be your own particular topic, your own discipline, or the field as a whole#with an ability to interpret it, understand its Americanness, and so understand the subtle nuances often lost on outsiders. It will, in short, give you a deeper insight into America, and also into the study of America. To that extent, it takes your intellectual journey onward another stage. You will begin to see new meanings in past events, literary texts, images, films, and so on. You will be able to reach a deeper understanding of the complexities of the United States of America.



Students will select 20 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


This module explores the ever expanding concept of 'American Frontiers'. Since Frederick Jackson Turner's influential 'Frontier thesis' of 1893, American identity has been increasingly linked to the concept of the 'frontier' which has, in more recent years, become subject to an ever-widening geography. Often referred to as the 'transnational turn,' this critical and theoretical trajectory has constantly reinvented - and multiplied - what constitutes the 'American Frontier'. From violent clashes between colonisers and Native peoples to the Space Race, from literary cosmopolitanisms to Hollywood in the South Seas, from America's own national borders to its internal racial and ethnic boundaries, to name just a few of the possible ways of thinking about the Frontier, this module considers American geographies in tandem with the critical movements that have shaped American Studies.




The first book published in the New World was a hymn book. Music, sacred and profane, has been at the centre of American lives ever since. Accordingly, this module will explore the history of American music - but it will also examine the way that its development tells a larger story. Focusing largely on the vernacular musical traditions we will encounter a wide range of musical styles and musicians, each of which has something vital to tell us about the shaping of America. After all, as Plato knew, "When the mode of the music changes, the walls of the city shake."




The module will examine America in the1980s. It will look at youth culture, post-Vietnam revisionism and the 'remasculinization of America', yuppie culture, and the impact of both AIDS and drug addiction. Core factors of study in this module are the effects of both New Right morality upon the American socio-cultural landscape, and Ronald Reagan as postmodern president administrating to a 'celluloid America' of his own fantastic imagining. Overall, the module will offer the chance to analyse the tensions and contradictions of the decade as they were played out in both the content and structure of contemporary American film.




What was the Cold War? How did it start, where and how was it fought, and why did it last so long? This module analyses these issues by exploring the contest waged by the U.S. and Soviet Union in every corner of the globe during the twentieth century. It considers nations and peoples who aligned with the superpowers or, as was increasingly the case, with neither. It looks at the multiple ways in which this unique 'war short of total war' influenced all aspects of life, from diplomacy and politics, to economics, to culture and values, to bombs and warfare, to societal norms, to questions of race and sexuality. With attention to a range of state, private, and transnational actors, it analyses the global and international nature of the Cold War. It explores the place of the conflict amid other transformative historical narratives during the century and, finally, considers the changing ways that historians have written about the Cold War.



Students will select 20 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


With its main focus on the 20th century, this module will explore key moments of change or crisis in the century and consider the ways the panic caused by such changes is distinctly gendered and/or sexualised. It will concurrently examine gender and sexual resistance to dominant ideas of American identity and the subsequent creation and/or promotion of liberationist discourses and alternative communities. Film and literature will provide the focus for this cultural study, and the module will range widely over a number of different genres including the western, sci-fi, detective and LGBT themed works.



Students must study the following modules for 120 credits:

Name Code Credits


A semester spent at an American university taking an approved course of study. Restricted to students on American Studies 4 year programmes.




A semester spent at an Australian university taking an approved course of study. Restricted to students on 4 year programmes.




A year spent at an American university taking an approved course of study. Restricted to students on 4 year American Studies programmes. For students on programmes:U1T700401, U1TQ73401, U1TW76401, U1T7W8401, U1V238401, U1V2L2401, U1TW76401.



Students must study the following modules for 30 credits:

Name Code Credits


Final year dissertation involving research into a specific issue or topic in American culture, society, history or literature. Restricted to students on the 4 year American Studies degree programmes. Topics will already have been approved on the basis of dissertation proposals submitted during the year abroad.



Students will select 30 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


This module examines the nature of the black freedom struggle in the United States. Historically denied full citizenship rights in the United States, African Americans often looked abroad in their fight against racial prejudice. Seminars will explore how and why black Americans forged transnational alliances that challenged racism on a local and a global level. Covering the connections between African Americans and movements for racial justice in Europe, Africa, South Asia, the Caribbean and beyond, the module will explore the global political outlook of prominent black figures such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Claudia Jones and Barack Obama.




Covert intervention represents the most controversial aspect of U.S. foreign relations. No group has been as closely associated with this activity - historically and in the population imagination - than the Central Intelligence Agency. To what extent is this clandestine dimension to international affairs consistent with official, overt policies of the U.S. government? Or is it the best example of American imperialism? How do we come to understand covert action campaigns? This module introduces the main conceptual and historical debates to covert action as a tool of U.S. foreign policy. In so doing it considers the institutions and processes behind covert action, especially the role of the CIA, in the attempt to secretly shape events abroad. It also analyses the mediums that narrate and explain American interventionism and covert action. This will provide a fuller and richer understanding of the U.S. place in the international system during the twentieth century, its relationship to other states and non-state actors, and discussions about American identity and the nation's role in the world.



Students will select 30 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


Indian Halloween costumes, reservation casino wealth, Washington Red Skins, Cowboy and Indian Alliance, powwow, Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, and the Native tourist industry are just some of the contemporary topics that will be analysed to open this module's explorations and discussions of the histories of Native Americans within the context of United States' settler colonialism. A wide range of sources will be studied: traditional written texts; photographs; art; fashion; advertisements; museums displays. Students will learn the techniques to conduct these analyses, and to participate in current historical debates, evaluate the historiography, and define their own topic for the written assessment.



Students will select 30 credits from the following modules:

American Studies Modules

Name Code Credits


The aim of this module is to think about democracy in the United States through a gendered lens. The Declaration of Independence declared that "all men were created free and equal", but throughout the history of the United States certain social groups have been denied their rights to citizenship and democracy. Therefore this module will be focusing upon the ways in which gender has been central to the construction of citizenship and democracy in the US. These concepts are critical elements in the formation of a modern American identity, and this module will provide a broader understanding of this distinctive feature of American history and society.




On the eve of the twenty-first century it appeared that the United States of America was indeed entering into a new American Century with its role as global leader as strongly defined as it was a century earlier. However, the last decade and a half has been witness to a nation in turmoil and crisis, from the conflict between a universalising (Americanising) globalisation and an introspective nationalism; the war on terror and the conflicts in Afghanistan Iraq and Syria; environmental crisis and disaster; the conflict surrounding immigration and national identity, to the present financial crisis. The renewed and vigorous return to rhetoric of national 'unity' that characterised the campaign and election of Barack Obama as President of the United States in 2008 serves to highlight the historical divisions and crises of American society and underscores that contemporary America is in crisis geopolitically, economically, democratically, environmentally, and culturally. This module seeks to engage with these areas of crisis and examine a variety of cultural responses to the America of the millennium. Through a variety of cultural texts, from literature, film and documentary, political speeches and letters, to historical texts and pop culture, this module examines the ways in which these crises have been culturally and politically constructed and given particular sets of meaning.




Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules and regular (five-yearly) review of course programmes. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, there will normally be prior consultation of students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff or sabbatical leave. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

Entry Requirements

  • A Level ABB preferably including History
  • International Baccalaureate 32 points preferably including 5 in HL History
  • Scottish Advanced Highers ABB preferably including History
  • Irish Leaving Certificate AABBBB preferably to include History or 2 subjects at H1 and 4 at H2 preferably to include History
  • Access Course An Arts/Humanities/Social Sciences pathway is preferred. Pass the Access course with Distinction in 30 credits at Level 3 preferably including History modules, and Merit in 15 credits at Level 3
  • BTEC DDM preferably alongside a GCE A-level or equivalent in History
  • European Baccalaureate 75% preferably including History

Entry Requirement

You are required to have Mathematics and English Language at a minimum of Grade C or Grade 4 or above at GCSE Level.

A GCE A-level in English and/or History is preferred.

Students for whom English is a Foreign language

We welcome applications from students from all academic backgrounds. We require evidence of proficiency in English (including writing, speaking, listening and reading):

  • IELTS: 6.5 overall (with no less than 6.0 in any component)

We also accept a number of other English language tests. Please click here to see our full list.

If you do not meet the academic and or English requirements for direct entry our partner, INTO University of East Anglia offers guaranteed progression on to this undergraduate degree upon successful completion of a preparation programme. Depending on your interests, and your qualifications you can take a variety of routes to this degree:

International Foundation in Humanities and Law


The majority of candidates will not be called for an interview and a decision will be made via UCAS Track. However, for some students an interview will be requested. You may be called for an interview to help the School of Study, and you, understand if the course is the right choice for you.  The interview will cover topics such as your current studies, reasons for choosing the course and your personal interests and extra-curricular activities.  Where an interview is required the Admissions Service will contact you directly to arrange a convenient time.

Gap Year

We welcome applications from students who have already taken or intend to take a gap year.  We believe that a year between school and university can be of substantial benefit. You are advised to indicate your reason for wishing to defer entry and to contact directly to discuss this further.


The School's annual intake is in September of each year.

  • A Level ABB including a History-based subject
  • International Baccalaureate 32 points overall including 5 in HL History
  • Scottish Highers At least one Advanced Higher preferred in addition to Highers
  • Scottish Advanced Highers ABB including a History-based subject
  • Irish Leaving Certificate AABBBB including a History-based subject
  • Access Course An Arts/Humanities/Social Sciences pathway is preferred. Pass the Access course with Distinction in 30 credits at Level 3 including History modules, and Merit in 15 credits at Level 3
  • BTEC DDM, an ARTS/Humanities subject preferred alongside a GCE A-level or equivalent grade B in a History related subject
  • European Baccalaureate 75% overall including History

Entry Requirement

Typical A-level offer: ABB including a History-based subject.

Typical International Baccalaureate offer: 32 including 5 in HL History.

All equivalent qualifications considered, please contact the university for further information.

Students for whom English is a Foreign language

We welcome applications from students from all academic backgrounds. We require evidence of proficiency in English (including writing, speaking, listening and reading):

  • IELTS (SELT): 6.5 overall (minimum 6.0 in Reading and Writing with no less than 5.5 in any component)

We also accept a number of other English language tests. Please click here to see our full list.

If you do not meet the University's entry requirements, our INTO Language Learning Centre offers a range of university preparation courses to help you develop the English skills necessary for successful undergraduate study.


The majority of candidates will not be called for an interview. However, for some students an interview will be requested. These are normally quite informal and generally cover topics such as your current studies, reasons for choosing the course and your personal interests and extra-curricular activities.

Students will have the opportunity to meet with an academic on a Visit Day in order to gain a deeper insight into the course(s) you have applied for.

Gap Year

We welcome applications from students who have already taken a gap year.

Deferred Entry

We also welcome applications for deferred entry, believing that a year between school and university can be of substantial benefit. You are advised to indicate your reason for wishing to defer entry and may wish to contact the appropriate Admissions Office directly to discuss this further.


This course's annual intake is in September of each year.

Alternative Qualifications

If you have alternative qualifications that have not been mentioned above then please contact university directly for further information.

GCSE Offer

Students are required to have GCSE Mathematics and English at Grade C or above.

Fees and Funding

In each year, American Studies offers a number of scholarships of up to £1000 to students on a Year Abroad.  Those students scoring top marks in their A level exams will be considered for one of these awards.

Undergraduate University Fees and Financial Support: Home and EU Students

Tuition Fees

Please see our webpage for further information on the current amount of tuition fees payable for Home and EU students and for details of the support available.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to ensuring that costs do not act as a barrier to those aspiring to come to a world leading university and have developed a funding package to reward those with excellent qualifications and assist those from lower income backgrounds. 

Home/EU - The University of East Anglia offers a range of Bursaries and Scholarships.  To check if you are eligible please visit the website.


Undergraduate University Fees and Financial Support: International Students

Tuition Fees

Please see our webpage for further information on the current amount of tuition fees payable for International Students.


We offer a range of Scholarships for International Students – please see our website for further information.


How to Apply

Applications need to be made via the Universities Colleges and Admissions Services (UCAS), using the UCAS Apply option.

UCAS Apply is a secure online application system that allows you to apply for full-time Undergraduate courses at universities and colleges in the United Kingdom. It is made up of different sections that you need to complete. Your application does not have to be completed all at once. The system allows you to leave a section partially completed so you can return to it later and add to or edit any information you have entered. Once your application is complete, it must be sent to UCAS so that they can process it and send it to your chosen universities and colleges.

The UCAS code name and number for the University of East Anglia is EANGL E14.

Further Information

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances with the Admissions Office prior to applying please do contact us:

Undergraduate Admissions Office

Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515

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    Next Steps

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