AM5001 - The San Francisco Bay Area (Explorations in American Studies II)

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What will I learn on this module?

This module will introduce students to the concept of ‘place’ within an American Studies framework. It explores a particular geographical site (for example, a neighbourhood, a city, or a state) in North America, or a geographically bounded zone which incorporates part of North America (for example, the Pacific Rim, the Caribbean), from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. The module provides students with a nuanced understanding of the ‘place’ in question and of its broader significance within the American Experience. It encourages students to analyse and engage with the interdisciplinary nature of American Studies. The specific case study may change in any given year but the aims, outcomes and outline structure of the module will remain the same. Indicative topics include: the San Francisco Bay Area; the South; the Rust Belt; Harlem; the Mississippi River; the Atlantic World.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn on this module by attending lectures that present core themes, a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches to studying the geographical area in question, and key debates in the particular academic field. You will be expected to prepare for the weekly seminars by undertaking essential and recommended reading, and will build on your independent reading by presenting your ideas and arguments in seminar discussions with your peers. Learning materials, tasks and readings will be posted on the eLP (Blackboard) to enable participation within the seminar programme. You will participate in formative assessment activities, receive feedback, and will be responsible for your own guided and independent learning. Summative assessment matches your learning against the learning outcomes for the module.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Your academic development will be supported through engagement with your peers, academic tutors, and programme leaders. Academic support is provided through group/individual tutorials which allow specific issues to be addressed and to promote progress in academic development. The module tutor will be accessible within publicised Feedback and Consultation hours and via email. Your peers will provide you will a collaborative learning environment, and your programme leader will guide you through the requirements and expectations of your course. You will also be supported through individual engagement with the academic literature, lectures, and resources available on the eLearning Portal. Formative feedback will be on-going throughout seminar activities and through assessment tasks.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. An ability to critically evaluate key themes, concepts, and issues in the interdisciplinary study of North America.
2. Critical evaluation of conflicting positions in significant debates or controversies concerning particular geographical sites or zones within or incorporating North America.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
3. Demonstrate an advanced ability to consider the importance of debate and interdisciplinary discussion within American Studies in written form.
4. Demonstrate the acquisition of numerous skills including the ability to make independent critical judgments, handle a variety of theories and apply various concepts and disciplinary approaches when appropriate.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
5. Cultural awareness and sensitivity towards different places, cultures, societies; curiosity about places both in specific and abstract contexts.

How will I be assessed?

The summative assessment will be made up of a portfolio, containing the following components, each designed to assess different skills.

1) Locate and select a significant political document for inclusion in the module’s political document database. Students must construct a commentary on the document, outlining its context, and significance in shaping the politics of the location.
Commentary length: 1,000 words (20% of final mark) MLO: 1, 3, 4, 5
2) Offer a fifteen-minute presentation (in a small group of no more than four students) on a topic in one of the seminars from the module (10% of final mark). The Module Convenor (or Seminar Tutor, if appropriate) will complete an Oral Presentation feedback form (see attached sheet) which will offer detailed feedback on the presentation. Groups will visit the Convenor/Tutor after the presentation for a formal feedback session where they will receive this document. The document will include a mark for the presentation, students will sign to indicate their acceptance of this mark, and the entire document submitted as part of the portfolio. Students may append a copy of the audio/visual aids used in the presentation if they wish. MLO: 1, 2, 3, 5
3) Construct a critical review of one significant piece of music or cinema. This may be a particular song, album or single film, chosen from an approved list.
Review length: 1,000 words (20% of final mark) MLO: 1, 4, 5
4) An essay on the imaginative construction of the location. ‘What is the Bay Area?’
Essay length: 2,000 words (5040% of final mark) MLO: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

The assessments together reflect the necessity for students to develop a broad knowledge base through lecture attendance and independent reading while also demonstrating conceptual awareness and the ability to develop and express coherent arguments that rely in part on this knowledge.





Module abstract

Please find details of this module in the other sections provided.

Course info

UCAS Code T710

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Humanities

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2021

Fee Information

Module Information

All information on this course page is accurate at the time of viewing.

Courses starting in 2021 are offered as a mix of online and face to face teaching due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to flex accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Students will be required to attend campus as far as restrictions allow. Contact time will increase as restrictions ease, or decrease, potentially to a full online offer, should restrictions increase.

Our online activity will be delivered through Blackboard Ultra, enabling collaboration, connection and engagement with materials and people.


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