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BA (Hons)

American Studies and History

Gain a valuable, cross-cultural perspective of history

TV71UCAS code 3yrsfull time 1yrplacement option

Star Course Overview

Why take this course?

Are you interested in developing a cross-cultural, international and historical perspective on your studies? This degree lets you build a body of knowledge from these complementary disciplines. The breadth of themes and analytical approaches in this course provides a sound preparation for work or further study.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Apply for an internship in the heart of the American political process
  • Spend a period in one of our link universities in the USA - New York State, Minnesota, Kansas, North Carolina - or in Chile
  • Tailor your study to reflect the interests you develop during your studies

What opportunities might it lead to?

This course will equip you with the capabilities for a wide range of careers, in the US or UK, with a broadened world view that will help you apply your skills in any job that calls for analysis, argument or communication. Here are some routes our past graduates have pursued:

  • library and archival work
  • journalism and media
  • teaching
  • marketing and sales
  • local government
Megan Ranson, BA (Hons) American Studies and History student 2013

The thing that I love about my course is the variety of topics covered. One lecture I am studying US foreign policy, and the influence of Obama, and the next I'm discovering the true identity of pirates.

Megan Ranson, BA (Hons) American Studies and History student 2013

Want to start this course in 2017?

Apply through UCAS Clearing

Our entry requirements may be different during Clearing

Come to our next Open Day

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Key Facts

UCAS Course Code:
3 years full time, 4 years sandwich with work placement.
The UCAS tariff for 2017 entry has changed. See how this affects your tariff score A LEVELS
96-120 points from 3 A levels or equivalent. See full entry requirements

We accept UCAS points from other qualifications. See full details and English Language qualifications

UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students
2017/18 entry: full time: £9,250 p/a*

International students
2017/18 entry: full time: £12,600 p/a**

*Tuition fee may be subject to annual increase.
**Tuition fee is subject to annual increase.

View tuition fee terms and conditions
View additional course costs

+44 (0)23 9284 5566
School of Languages and Area Studies
Programme specification


History, Politics and Social Studies

Find out what our students say about studying at Portsmouth, including:

  • The diverse spread of subjects offered and ability to complete your own research
  • The critical thinking, analytical and debating skills you’ll develop
  • The passionate lecturers with a wide range of specialist research expertise

Browse all courses in History, Politics and Social Studies

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Light bulb Structure & Teaching

Year one

In the first year you will study introductory units to the various disciplines that you will cover on the course, working towards a coherent understanding of the Americas as a whole and a solid foundation for advanced historical study in years two and three.

  • Introduction to Latin American History
  • Introduction to North American Studies
  • Historical Methods
  • Society and Culture in Twentieth Century Europe
  • Studying at University
  • History Skills Development

Year two

In the second and third years of study a range of options allows you to pursue your own particular interests. Options may vary from year to year but will always offer the opportunity to study in-depth critical and theoretical approaches to a wide range of subjects.

  • Home & Away: USA Foreign & Domestic Policy
  • Masses and Modernity, 1750-1914

Options including:


  • In Darkest England: Culture, Conflict and the City 1790-1860
  • Europe's Maritime Empires 1600 - 1800
  • Race, Slavery and Emancipation in the Americas
  • The First World War: A Social and Gender History
  • Rum, Sodomy and the Lash: Outlaws at Sea 1600 - 1850
  • Fighting Over Europe: Parties, Business, NGOs and Lobbying in the EU
  • Civil Rights USA
  • Introduction To Historical Research
  • Empires And Identities 1750-1914
  • Guns Glory Hunters & Greed; European Colonisation in Africa
  • Democratisation In Latin America
  • American Civil War
  • History Workplace Experience
  • Foreign Language
  • Learning From Experience
  • Managing Across Cultures


Year three

A large part of the final year is given over to the preparation of a dissertation, which is a major piece of independent work on a topic of your own choice. The dissertation can be on an American studies or a history topic, or combine the two.

  • Dissertation / Major Project
  • History Special Subject 1
  • History Special Subject 2

Options from:

  • Transitional Justice & Human Rights
  • We, The People: The Creation of the American Citizen
  • Accredited Study Abroad
  • The Politics & Culture of the Hispanic World in 20th Century Literature & Film
  • Ethnicity, Class & Culture in the Developing World
  • African American History & Culture
  • Civil Rights USA


We aim to provide a varied, challenging and stimulating learning environment. But most of all we want you to become an independent learner so that you will continue to learn beyond your time at the University.

Our staff are highly motivated and research active, ensuring that you are taught by specialists in their subjects.

The time you spend in teaching activities may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year typically spent their time as follows:

  • Year one students: 22% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 78% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year two students: 18% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 82% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year three students: 5% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 66% studying independently and 29% on work placement


You will have relatively few formal lectures as most of our teaching is done in smaller groups and we encourage you to work together in groups or small teams. Our assessment methods are varied too, incorporating some formal examinations but also case studies, projects and presentations.

The way you’re assessed may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:

  • Year one students: 12% by written exams, 18% by practical exams and 70% by coursework
  • Year two students: 17% by written exams, 0% by practical exams and 83% by coursework
  • Year three students: 0% by written exams, 3% by practical exams and 97% by coursework

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Monitor Facilities & Features

Pan-American Approaches

At Portsmouth, the entire pan-American region is explored through a wide range of disciplines and perspectives. You may study the US; you may equally study the Caribbean, Central or South America. You may also be able to study for a period abroad in one of our partner universities in the Americas - New York State, Minnesota, Kansas, North Carolina and Chile

Washington DC Internship

Students on this programme are eligible to apply for an internship through the Brockport Washington Intern Program, offering work experience and learning opportunities in the heart of the American political process.

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Budgeting for your studies

There are extra costs associated with studying, which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Recommended texts:
If you wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow from the University Library, the average price is £50-£60. You may be studying up to 6 units a year, each with a standard recommended text.

General costs:
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for costs of photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

Final year project:
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose to develop.

Other costs to consider

For placements abroad that are taken in countries outside the EU/EEA, you will be required to meet travel costs. These costs will be in the region of £1000.

You will also be required to meet any extra tuition costs for units of study taken outside of your agreed study abroad programme. These costs will be in the region of £200.

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Mortarboard Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Where next?
Where next?

You will develop a wide range of skills and capabilities that are valued by prospective employers, such as analysis, criticism and argument. Your global world view and, potentially, study experience abroad will make you more appealing to many employers. You will be eligible to apply to an internship programme in Washington DC where, if successful, you can develop personal and professional skills at the heart of US politics.

Roles our graduates have moved into include:

  • teacher
  • researcher
  • archivist
  • government administrator
  • journalist
  • curator
  • PR officer
  • recruitment consultant

Work experience

Employment boosting opportunities
Employment boosting opportunities

In addition to the Washington internship opportunity, you may study abroad in the first semester of the final year, either in the United States or Chile. This course also allows you to take the Learning From Experience (LiFE) option, which lets you earn credits toward your degree for work/research placements, volunteer roles or internships undertaken alongside your studies. The option gives you the opportunity to enhance your employability skills, to reflect on the ways in which you've done so, and to learn to express this to potential employers.

Career planning

Career planning
Career planning
6.04 minutes

To make sure you take the right steps on your career path, we’re here to give you help, support and advice throughout your study. Even after you’ve graduated, we continue to give you support for up to five years.

Employers tell us that they want graduates to be able to demonstrate certain skills when they come out of university. Our courses take account of this. We make sure we prepare you for employment through work-related learning, projects, placements and working in simulated environments that are designed to prepare you for the working world.

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