Black Studies - BA (Hons)

UCAS Code:
Full Time (3 Years), Sandwich (4 Years), Part Time (5 Years)
September 2018

The first of its kind in Europe, our BA (Hons) Black Studies will help you recognise and appreciate the achievements and movements of Black scholars, activists and communities.

If you are interested in the history, popular cultures, artistic and social movements of people in the African diaspora, our new Black Studies course will provide you with the big picture perspective on this emerging discipline.

Taught by leading, research-active lecturers and tutors, Black Studies will see you encounter a range of viewpoints, as well as gaining valuable experience within the public, private and voluntary sectors. 

What's covered in the course?

While there is a long tradition of Black studies in the United States (where it is taught in some of the most prestigious institutions in the world), the subject has been previously overlooked in the UK. The topic originally emerged in the 1960s in an effort to open up universities to a more diverse student body, as well as recognising the contributions of Black scholars and activists.

By looking at the contributions and intellectual traditions of people in the African diaspora, we can study a range of different perspectives that transform how we understand society. We also focus on exploring popular culture to understand social theories.

Black Studies is an interdisciplinary subject, and is also committed to linking to wider communities and efforts to improve society. Throughout the degree, we will engage you in the thinking and practice of connecting your work to communities, projects and organisations outside of the University.

The subject is interested in the African diaspora before the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade, as well as focusing on how Black populations resisted and fought back during this period. The degree will discuss Black studies in the international context, looking at topics impacting on the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe and Africa. We will also focus on Blackness in Britain, including migrations to Britain and the contributions Black people have made.

Why Choose Us?

  • This is the first course of its kind in the UK, and presents a unique opportunity for you to gain a thorough education in an insightful, rich subject.
  • You have the opportunity to embark on a year-long sandwich placement as part of your degree course, ensuring you have the experience you need to make an impact in your chosen career.
  • Our Black Studies team have links with some of the most respected academics in the field, including Patricia Hill Collins, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Gus John, Hazel Garby, Barnor Hesse and Joan Anim-Addo.
  • We work alongside a lot of important social organisations, who help shape our course. These include the Black Studies Association, the Race and Ethnicity Group, and Unmuted.
  • You will also get the opportunity to transform your experience with us into a global one, with a variety of exciting possibilities open to you. This ranges from our successful international travel scholarships scheme, through which you can spend a summer working for a charitable organisation overseas, to one of our many overseas study exchange programmes. Our international exchange opportunities could also see you spend some of your second term at an institution in the USA.
  • As a student on one of our undergraduate degrees, you will be able to benefit from our Graduate+ initiative. This three-year award programme enables you to gain award levels for all the extra-curricular activities you undertake so that you can stand out from the crowd on graduation. 

To welcome all new home and EU undergraduate degree students starting in 2018 or 2019, we're giving at least £150 worth of credit to spend in a host of ways, on books and a range of learning materials. Even better, it doesn’t have to be repaid. Terms and conditions apply.

Find out more

This course is open to International students

*DLHE 2016/17

Sir Lenny Henry, Chancellor

Actor, writer, comedian and charitable campaigner Sir Lenny Henry is our new Chancellor.

Find out more

Entry Requirements

We accept a range of qualifications, the most popular of which are detailed below.

Typical Offers

A Level BBC or 112 UCAS points from a minimum of 2 subjects


BTEC D*D* or combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 112 UCAS points


GCSE GCSE English Language at grade 4 or above. Must have been achieved at the point of enrolment. Equivalent qualifications will be considered.
View Equivalent GCSE Qualifications that will be considered
England, Wales and Northern Ireland
City and Guilds Level 2 N/A Certificates in Adult Numeracy/ Adult Literacy. Must have been achieved at the point of enrolment.
Functional Skills/ Essential Skills level 2 Pass English Language. Considered in lieu of GCSE English language at grade 4+. Must have been achieved at the point of enrolment.
Irish Leaving Certificate (Ordinary Level) BBBCC Must include English language. Required at the point of enrolment.

Other acceptable UK Qualifications

Please select a qualification from the drop-down list to view our entry requirements:

If you have a qualification that is not listed, please contact the Course Enquiries Team

EU / International students
English language requirements 2017/18
IELTS 6.0 overall with 5.5 minimum in all bands
Other accepted qualifications Visit our English language page
International Students

Entry requirements here

From A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BA (Hons) Sep 2018 FT 3 Years £9,250 per year Apply via UCAS
SW 4 Years £9,250 per year Apply via UCAS
PT 5 Years See below

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BA (Hons) Sep 2018 FT 3 Years £12,000 per year
SW 4 Years £12,000 per year (excluding sandwich year)

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead. The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament up to a maximum of five per cent.

Guidance for UK/EU students


UK and EU students applying for most undergraduate degree courses in the UK will need to apply through UCAS.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.

Applying through UCAS
 Register with UCAS
 Login to UCAS
 Complete your details
 Select your course
 Write a personal statement
 Get a reference
 Pay your application fee
 Send UCAS your application

Non-EU (International) students

There are three ways to apply:

1) Direct to the University

You will need to complete our International Application Form and Equal Opportunities Form, and submit them together with scan copies of your original academic transcripts and certificates.

2) Through a country representative

Our in-country representatives can help you make your application and apply for a visa. They can also offer advice on travel, living in the UK and studying abroad.

3) Through UCAS

If you are applying for an undergraduate degree or a Higher National Diploma (HND), you can apply through the UK’s Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

You can request a printed form from your school or nearest British Council office. You will be charged for applying through UCAS. Birmingham City University’s UCAS code is B25 BCITY.

Personal statement

UK / EU students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.*

The personal statement gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Course choice

Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?

Career plans

If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.

Work experience

Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.

School or college experience

Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.

Non-accredited skills or achievement

eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.

You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

*Non-EU students are not required to submit a personal statement when applying for this course.

Fees for part time students

If you study this course part-time or via distance learning, you will be charged on a pro-rata basis. This means your fee will be calculated per module.

Additional costs

There are no compulsory additional costs or charges associated with studying on this course. While you may choose to purchase personal copies of text books, all our key text books are available from our library or online (subject to normal library loan and online access arrangements).

Based on the past experience of our students, you might find it helpful to set aside about £50 for each year of your studies for your personal stationery and study materials. All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.

Accommodation and living costs

The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.

Worried about personal statements?

Worried about personal statements?

If you've got no idea where to start or just want to check you're on the right track, we’ve got expert advice and real examples from our students to help you nail your personal statement. You can even download our ultimate personal statement guide for free.

Get personal statement advice

Loans and Grants

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible undergraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.

Year One

Introduction to Black Studies
20 credits

The module provides an introduction to the key themes and areas in the discipline of Black Studies. It lays the foundation for the study of the degree and connects into the modules that follow. The module will discuss the principles of Black Studies; offer counter historical narratives to Black experiences and; explore contemporary forms of Blackness in Britain and beyond.

City, Community and Culture
20 credits

City, Community and Culture introduces students to the sociology of the city and teaches the ethnographic method for explore urban settings. We will focus on the key theories of the city, including theories from Black sociologists, who were some of the first to explore urban life. This module will engage students in applying the theories we learn into exploring the city of Birmingham.

Understanding Society
20 credits

Understanding Society introduces students to the idea of modernity and the classical thinkers in sociology. The module also present critiques of the dominant view of modernity as progress, outlining the ‘dark side’ of the process. As well as discussing classical thinkers such as Marx, Durkheim and Weber, the module introduces WEB DuBois and considers how slavery, genocide and colonialism impacted on the making of the modern world.

Black Intellectual Thought
20 credits

This module aims to introduce students to key thinkers throughout the Black diaspora that discuss and theorise the experiences of Black people across the world. We will examine events, movements, theories, and texts that have shaped the development of the African diaspora. We will explore how approaches to studying intersecting inequalities, race and racism in society offer important insights into the human condition.

State and Society
20 credits

State and Society introduces students to understanding the role of the state, politics and policy in social life. We consider different political perspectives and how these are articulated through the political process. The module also examines key policy agendas and the impacts on groups in society. Students will learn about political ideologies, influences on the political process and we will discuss contemporary issues in social policy.

Sociological Imagination
20 credits

This is a core module which introduces students to the scholarship of key contemporary social thinkers. The module aligns with the aim of providing students with the tools to develop a critical awareness of a variety of sociological perspectives and their relevance to the contemporary social world.

Year Two

Black Political Activism
20 credits

Black Political Activism introduces students to the different approaches that have been used to resist racism across the African Diaspora. We will explore a range of liberal, radical and contemporary forms of activism and root this in a discussion of how society is understood. The module engage with a range of case of studies of organisations and politics, and will also consider intersectionality in the context of Black political activism.

Understanding Popular Culture
20 credits

This module aims to develop your ability to critically analyse contemporary popular culture. We will examine theories relevant to the study of cultural sociology, with a specific focus on topics including race, gender, sexuality, music, ‘the body’, media, consumption and black popular culture.  In particular, the module will consider how popular culture can act to confirm or resist dominant ideologies produced in society.

Black Feminism
20 credits

This module aims to develop your critical analysis of Black feminism, in particular to understand the significance and influence of Black feminist thinkers and Black feminist thought. We will examine key theorists as well as the impact of black feminism on popular culture and political activism.  In particular we will be considering how Black feminism provides an epistemological framework that resists, challenges and negotiates dominant ideologies.

Black Studies Methods
20 credits

Black Studies Methods aims to teach students methods of engaging in research that directly impact on the social world outside of the university. We will explore a range of methodological approaches that complement and extend traditional approaches in sociology. Students will be expected to critique taken for granted notions of research and also to develop engaged and community based research projects.

Black Studies Placement
20 credits

In this module students will apply their knowledge of Black Studies in the world of practice. Students will be required to undertake a placement in a public, private or voluntary sector organisation that either provides services or seeks to improve the conditions of Black communities.

Optional module
20 credits

The following optional modules are all worth 20 credits each:

  • Race, Racism & Ethnicity
  • Sociology of the Media
  • Youth, Socialisation & Identity 

Year Three

Power and Inequality
20 credits

Why has society remained so unequal? Have we become too use to social inequalities? What can we do to make a more equal society? These questions will be explored to examine why power and inequalities remain central concerns in society across local, national, diasporic and global borders. This module will critically examine how we can make links between inequalities of the past that continue to impact our contemporary societies.

Black Arts Movement
20 credits

The module explores and examines the historical context which produced the Black Arts Movement in the UK. It aligns with the aims of the Black Studies degree programme as it focuses on a social movement, and discusses the contribution that artists from the African diaspora have contributed to visual culture.

Black Studies Project
40 credits

The Black Studies Project is the culmination of the work that the students have done over the preceding years of the degree. They will draw on the work in the second year module Black Studies Methods in order to carry out their own research project that is engaged in improving the social world.

Optional modules
20 credits

The following optional modules are all worth 20 credits each:

  • Activism, Social Movements and Social Change
  • Globalisation, People & Society
  • Music & Society
  • Self, Identity & Society
  • Visual Sociology

Course Structure

Teaching is a combination of large lectures mixed with smaller workshops and seminars. Assessment is a mixture of coursework and exams. You can expect up to twelve hours a week of scheduled learning activities, and will be required to study independently for double that time per week.

The interdisciplinary nature of Black Studies means that you will leave with a critical and comprehensive understanding of society. Expanding the range of knowledge is vitally important, as it will equip you with the skills and knowledge to navigate and transform our ever-changing society.

As part of your degree, you will engage with organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors, and learn methods of how to do research with groups and communities that can help improve society. By your third year, you will be designing and running your own projects with the support of staff in the department. 

Study and work abroad

If you are interested in undertaking part of your studies abroad, the Erasmus scheme may be of interest to you. It allows higher education students to study for part of their degree in another European country.

It is open to undergraduates in their second year (or above) and offers a unique opportunity to enhance your CV and experience new cultures. If you study with us you will have access to an Erasmus co-ordinator, who can provide information about which institutions we have links with.

Find out more


Enhancing employability skills

The benefit of Black Studies is that as society becomes increasingly diverse, employers recognise the need to have a much deeper range of knowledge about society. It will also be an advantage because it demonstrates a wealth of knowledge on issues of race, inclusion and society.

As well as this, you will gain the transferrable skills that employers always crave such as skills in critical thinking, analysis and research. 


There is a mandatory placement in your second year, where you will gain experience in either the private, public or voluntary sector. You will also, in your third year, have the chance to engage with an organisation outside of the University.

The placements are focused on working with organisations who work to improve the lives of people in different communities. 

More about our placement opportunities...


OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.


BCU Graduate+

Through our courses we give you the skills and experience needed to get a head start when applying for jobs. But we offer something extra too – Graduate+.

Our unique programme gives you the chance to develop valuable skills outside of the more formal classroom learning. We award points for Graduate+ activities (including firewalking!) and these can be put towards a final Graduate+ award.

More about Graduate+

Graduate Jobs

Studying a broad-ranging subject like Black Studies is an excellent route into a range of professional jobs, where you can be exposed to a variety of different ideas and critical thinking. This will enable you to consider a multitude of career options upon graduating, with the degree keeping the door open to professions such as social work, teaching and law. 

*DLHE 2016/17

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

The UK remains one of the world's leading study destinations

The UK remains one of the world's leading study destinations for international students.

The first-class experience offered by universities are reflected in the world’s largest survey of international students. International students are more likely to recommend the UK than any other leading English-language study destination.

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.


BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.

Learn more about BCUIC

Travel abroad

As a subject, Black Studies covers areas such as the Caribbean, the Americas and Africa, and thus international exchanges and ideas will be a central component of your studies.

We are also finalising plans to offer a semester abroad during your second year, through one of our partner universities in the USA. 

Curzon facilities eatery
Curzon facilities staircase
Curzon facilities student hub

Our Facilities

We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities.

The Curzon Building

This course is based at our City Centre Campus – and specifically The Curzon Building, alongside other social sciences, law, business and English students.

The £63m building offers students a unique social learning space, including a dedicated student hub incorporating student support services, in the heart of Birmingham’s Eastside development.

Realistic, simulated environments include two mock court rooms, a Magistrates' and Crown Court, and an interviewing suite. We’re also exploring the use of virtual environments as a way to develop case study analysis.

For those studying on the BA (Hons) Policing or BA (Hons) Criminology, Policing and Investigation degrees, you’ll experience simulations of police interviewing environments for both suspects and witnesses, with access to tape recording and video playback analysis.

Crime investigation files are prepared using computer-based technology, and the crime data analysis requirements of the degree are supported by appropriate statistical and analytical software.

Psychology students can look forward to using state-of-the-art equipment as well, including the latest in eye-tracking software, and our new EEG machine, all geared towards giving you true hands-on experience with tools you’ll be using in your later career. You will also benefit from facilities across the wider campus including the Parkside and Millennium Point buildings.

The Curzon Building also features:

  • An impressive new library with access to over 65 million full text items and stunning views of Eastside City Park
  • Your Students’ Union which is located in a beautifully restored 19th century pub, The Eagle and Ball
  • A modern 300-seat food court with space to study and socialise
  • Brand new, accessible IT facilities with full Office365 for all students for free

Our staff

Our staff carry out high-quality research, writing books and articles that lead the development of Black studies in the UK. They have recently published the first British edited book on Black studies, entitled 'Blackness in Britain'. Our staff are also producing the acclaimed book series 'Blackness in Britain', which features books covering topics such as Black radicalism, Black criminology and mixed heritage identities.

Our staff have also organised the major international conference, also titled Blackness in Britain, which brought in scholars from across the world and included contributions from Professor Patricia Hill Collins (University of Maryland), Dr Barnor Hesse (Northwestern University) and Professor Gus John (Institute of Education), all major figures in Black Studies.

Dr Kehinde Andrews

Professor of Black Studies

Kehinde is an academic, activist and author whose books include Back to Black: Retelling Black Radicalism for the 21st Century (2018). His first book was Resisting Racism: Race, Inequality and the Black Supplementary School Movement (2013).

Lisa Palmer profile

Dr Lisa Palmer

Senior Lecturer in Sociology

Lisa Palmer's research interests include Black Studies in Britain, the cultural politics of Lover's Rock music; community archiving and heritage; the intersections of gender, sexuality, racism and decoloniality. 

Dr Karen Wilkes

Lecturer in Sociology

Dr Karen Wilkes's research is concerned with analysing visual culture (tourist brochures of the Caribbean, advertising, television and films). Her work examines how gender, race and class work together and are represented in popular culture.

Dr Denise Noble

Senior Lecturer of Sociology

Denise has taught  media, cultural studies, sociology, African American and African studies, and social work in the UK and USA. In addition to her academic career she has extensive experience of community activism and community work.