- UCAS Code: L330
- Level: Undergraduate
- Starting: September 2021
- Study mode: Full Time (3 Years), Full Time (4 Years with Professional Placement), Part Time (5 Years)
- Location: City Centre
Studying with us in 2021/22
It is possible that the 2021/22 academic year may be affected by the ongoing disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Any arrangements put in place by the University for the 2021/22 academic year will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, pandemic-related/health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.
The BA (Hons) Black Studies course at Birmingham City University will help you to engage with the contributions of Black scholars, activism and communities in this expanding interdisciplinary field.
This unique course is the first of its kind in Europe. If you are interested in the history, politics, popular cultures, artistic and social movements of people across the African diaspora, Black Studies will provide you with the big picture perspective through this growing discipline.
Your course will be taught by leading, research-active lecturers and tutors, where you will encounter a range of viewpoints, as well as gaining valuable experience within the wider community.
What's covered in the course?
The purpose of Black Studies is to foster innovative teaching, learning and research that addresses historical and contemporary Black social life, culture and political activism both in Britain and across the African Diaspora. There has been a long tradition of Black studies in the United States. The discipline originally emerged on US campuses during 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.
However, in the UK, Black Studies has been taught more sporadically in higher education without having an independently named degree course or disciplinary home. It is therefore important to recognise that Black Studies in Britain has also thrived within various local community settings in Britain and through forms of independent self-learning and activism.
Black Studies at Birmingham City University is an interdisciplinary subject that is committed to working with the wider community. The course aims to make a transformative impact upon society. Throughout the degree, we will engage you in the thinking and practice of contextualising your work within communities, and where possible, connecting you to projects and organisations outside of the University.
The course seeks to enable students with the capacities and skills needed to apply decolonising intellectual knowledge to a range of strategies for advancing community self-representation, social justice and global human rights. These commitments are based on the understanding that the perspectives and lives of people throughout the Black diaspora are entangled in complex intersecting power relations, structures and processes.
Black Studies prepares students on this course for a range of graduate outcomes in a variety of occupations and occupational sectors (e.g. Public, Voluntary and Private). Black Studies graduates can go on to work in areas such as community development, charitable and voluntary organisations, NGOs, further and higher education, industry, retail and commerce, local and central government, human resources, social research, social work and youth work, amongst many others.
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 professional 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.
- Professor Kehinde Andrews was named as one of the 100 Great Black Britons in 2020
- 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.
- Don't meet the entry criteria? Our Foundation Year courses offer a route to a full undergraduate degree at a lower entry tariff.
- 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 course 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.
Find out more
Please note: this page has been updated recently - please ensure you have another look if you are interested in applying.
Our next Virtual Open Day is taking place on Saturday 20 March. It's the perfect opportunity to virtually tour our facilities, hear from some of our staff and get a feel of what it's like to study at BCU.
This course is open to International students
I AM BCU
Natalie is a mature student who originally wanted to go into logistics. However, while she was searching for courses in this area, she happened to come across our Black Studies degree.
Sir Lenny Henry, Chancellor
Actor, writer, comedian and charitable campaigner Sir Lenny Henry is our new Chancellor.
Due to the limited number of places available for this programme, applications are being considered as a gathered field. We therefore advise applicants to ensure they apply by 29 January 2021. Applicants can expect a decision as to whether they have been offered a place to study by 31 March 2021.
We accept a range of qualifications, the most popular of which are detailed below.
BBC or 112 UCAS tariff points from a maximum of 3 subjects.
|Level 2 Qualifications|
|UK Qualification||Requirements 2021/22|
|Irish Leaving Certificate (Ordinary Level)||
|Scottish National 5||
|Plus one of the following Level 3 (and above) Qualifications|
|UK Qualification||Requirements 2021/22|
|A level and Advanced VCE||
|Access to HE Diploma||
IBO Certificate in Higher Level
International Baccalaureate Diploma
Irish Leaving Certificate (Highers)
NCFE CACHE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Health and Social Care
OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma
OCR Cambridge Technical Diploma
Scottish Advanced Higher
Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate - Skills Challenge Certificate (first teaching September 2015)
Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma – Core (awarded until 2016)
ESW/KS Combined component
WJEC Level 3 Diploma in Criminology (QCF)
|If you have a qualification that is not listed in the table please refer to our full entry requirements on UCAS.
Further guidance on tariff points can be found on the UCAS website.
Additional information for EU/International students
Applications from international applicants with equivalent qualifications to 112 points are welcome. Please see your country page for further details on the equivalent qualifications we accept.
In additional to the academic entry requirements listed above, international and EU students will also require the qualifications detailed in this table.
|English language requirements 2020/21|
6.0 overall with 5.5 minimum in all bands
If you do not meet the required IELTS score, you may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English courses. Please note that you must have a Secure English Language Test (SELT) to study on the pre-sessional English course. More information.
|Other accepted qualifications||Visit our English language page|
From A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels
- UK students
- International students
Award: BA (Hons)
Starting: Sep 2021
- Full Time
- 3 Years
- £9,250 per year
- Apply via UCAS
- Full Time
- 4 Years with Professional Placement
- £9,250 per year
- Apply via UCAS
- Part Time
- 5 Years
- Show fees
- Year 1 (60 credits) £4,800
- Year 2 (60 credits) £4,800
- Year 3 (80 credits) £6,400
- Year 4 (80 credits) £6,400
- Year 5 (80 credits) £6,400
Fees for Part-time students
This course can be studied on a Part-time study basis. The cost per year of study is based on credit requirements for that year as shown here.
Award: BA (Hons)
Starting: Sep 2021
- Full Time
- 3 Years
- £13,200 per year
- Full Time
- 4 Years with Professional Placement
- £13,200 per 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.
Due to the limited number of places available for this programme, applications are being considered as a gathered field. We therefore advise applicants to ensure they apply by 15 January 2021. Applicants can expect a decision as to whether they have been offered a place to study by 31 March 2021.
There are three ways to apply:
1) Direct to the University
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.
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:
Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?
If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.
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.
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?
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.
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.
In order to complete this course, you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 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, 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. The module will equip students with the skills to understand the city and to study the city using ethnographic methods.
Understanding Society introduces students to the idea of modernity, the Enlightenment and key classical thinkers in sociology. The module presents critiques of the Enlightenment view of modernity as progress, outlining the ‘dark side’ of modernity’s emergence. As well as discussing classical thinkers such as Marx, Durkheim and Weber, the module introduces WEB DuBois and considers how slavery, imperialism and the rise of capitalism impacted the making of the modern world. We also consider how the emergence of modern knowledge and power were gendered and racialized from the outset.
This module will prepare you for the research that comes throughout the course and also enhance your study skills.
The module is linked to the programme philosophy by embedding the core skills necessary to become an excellent Black Studies student. Supporting study skills is essential for students to excel at university. The module introduces you to the key principles of engagement with Black Studies outside of the university, providing you with the platform to build into the rest of your studies. The ‘community component’ of the course is vital in linking Black Studies to the world outside. In the second year, you will undertake a placement working with Black communities and in this module we will help you to start preparing to secure this placement.
This module aims to introduce students to different intellectual ideas and perspectives throughout the Black diaspora that theorise the subject of Black peoples and populations across the world in historical and contemporary times.
The module will examine events, movements, theories, and texts that have shaped our knowledge and understanding of the African diaspora. We will explore how approaches to studying intersecting systems of power, gender, class, sexuality, race and racism in society offer important insights into the human condition. In particular, we will be considering how Black intellectual thought provides a framework that produces knowledge from the perspective of people and groups who have been historically marginalised both in the academy and wider society.
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. The module will also examine the history of and contemporary debates around migration into the UK, in order to discuss political ideologies and state policy.
In order to complete this course, you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 100 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 engages with a range of case of studies of organisations and politics, and will also consider intersectionality in the context of Black political activism.
This module aims to develop your ability to critically analyse contemporary popular culture. We will examine social and cultural studies theories relevant to the study of cultural sociology, with a specific focus on topics including class, race, ethnicity, 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.
This module aims to extend your critical knowledge and analysis of Black feminist discourses, in particular, to understand Black feminist ways of knowing and being in the world. We will examine black feminism through the lens of theory, popular culture, and political activism to ask questions about power and ongoing forms of domination. In particular we will consider how Black feminism provides an epistemological framework that resists, transgresses and negotiates dominant ideologies.
The module will explore how Black Feminism can speak to and construct democratic ideas of freedom and liberation while engaging questions of hypervisibility, invisibility and marginality. The core of this module will begin from an intersectional position to consider how black feminist theories are complex and varied in exposing the operations of power and transformative forms of political possibility.
Black Studies Methods aims to teach students methods of engaging in research that directly impacts 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.
The purpose of this module is to introduce students to critical knowledge of the historical and social impact of ‘race’ ethnicity and racism in western societies. Students will gain a critical understanding of key theoretical definitions of, and the debates concerning the concepts of race, racism and ethnicity. Students will learn about the historical development and social constructions of race, ethnicity and racism within western history, culture and politics.
In order to complete this course, you must successfully complete at least 20 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules.
The aim of the Placement Module is to offer Level 5 students the opportunity to apply their Level 4 knowledge and understanding of Black Studies perspectives to the world of community practice and employment. This includes public, private and voluntary sector organisation settings. In addition to developing the skills of reflexive practice, students will gain critical insight into the structures, processes and working practices of their host institution.
This module aims to consider sociological theories and concepts to understand the media. You will consider the role of media in society, looking at key theories of the media and understanding media texts (e.g. movies, TV programmes, YouTube videos, blogs, books, magazines, social media, etc…).
Through examining the broad sociological understanding of the youth, socialisation processes and identities, this module will explore how historical and contemporary perspectives which have led to competing constructions of youth culture. The module will draw on research and theoretical insights into the social worlds of young people, building upon key concepts such as sub-cultural theory, identity and the construction of difference in an attempt to place young people in the in the UK and global contexts.
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 focusses on a social movement, and discusses the contribution that artists from the African diaspora have contributed to visual culture. By engaging with a range of intellectual perspectives that contributed to the development of the Black Arts Movement, students will have the opportunity to understand how, in the case of the Black Arts Movement, intellectual thought and artistic production are symbiotic.
The Black Studies Project is the culmination of the work that the students have completed over the preceding years of the degree. They will draw upon the work in the Level 5 module Black Studies Methods in order to carry out their own independent research project.
Black communities have a long history in Britain. It is important to recognise the histories, contributions and perspectives that Black communities have brought to Britain. This is both within terms of engagements on the British isles, which date back to at least Roman times and also understanding Britain as an empire where Africa and the diaspora populations contributed to the nation from the colonies. In this module we will be looking at how Blackness has been articulated in relation to Black communities in Britain. We will be covering histories, experiences in institutional spaces and the stories of migration into Britain.
In keeping with the programme philosophy the module explores the experiences, contributions and perspectives of African and diasporic communities. By focusing on the experience of Black populations in Britain the module allows us to draw together the diasporic experiences we have explored across the degree. This module is an opportunity to explore the strands of the degree in the context of past and contemporary Britain. We will also be investigating how communities have experienced inequality and worked to overcome these struggles in Britain. In doing so we will not lose sight of the diasporic nature of the experiences in Britain.
The module is also interdisciplinary, drawing on history, literature, education, criminology, health and other cognate areas of Black experiences in Britain and the empire. We will evaluate the course by having students explore a contemporary issue using the historical framework presented in the module.
In order to complete this course, you must successfully complete at least 40 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules.
This is an option module which aligns with the aims of the Sociology programme by assisting students to gain a deep understanding of the complex visual world around them. This is an interdisciplinary module which examines sociological inquiry that is theoretically informed, knowledge-applied, with the specific focus on visual research methods. The module will encourage students to utilize their knowledge and understanding of different sociological perspectives and social research methods acquired at Levels 4 and 5. The module will be delivered with interactive workshops to facilitate group discussions.
Activism and social movements have attempted to address a wide range of social problems and influence social change. Historically, movements have had significant influence on social relations and social policy.
This module will critically investigate a range of social movements and activism from the past and present in order to better understand these movements and their internal processes and external contexts. Various theories will be explored in order to get a good grasp of what brings about social movements, how they operate, and when they succeed.
This is an optional module concentrating on cultural sociology with specific reference to music. The module will provide students with an in-depth introduction to some of the key sociological ideas and perspectives on music, and it will focus on three main themes: the social and historical settings in which musical forms are produced and consumed; music in relation to identity and politics; and the political economy of music.
By the end of the module, students should have a good understanding of the social functions, and significance, of music. Key issues we will explore include: the influence of class, race and gender on musical styles; music in its relationship with sub-cultural groups and as a force for political expression; and the commodification of popular music. Alongside considering these issues, we will be listening to a variety of music.
The module provides students with an opportunity to explore concepts, research and debates in relation to globalisation, people and society. The module encourages students to develop a critical approach to thinking about globalisation as a set of social and historical processes which shape (and may be shaped by) the economic, political, cultural and ecological dimensions of social life.
From the conceptual to the grounded, the module then explores the social consequences of globalisation with reference to selected themes and topics in and with relevance to sociology to include: the exercise of economic and political power; forms of political organisation and governance; the dynamics and effects of economic development; the creation of social divisions and inequality; cultural transformations; identity and belonging; population movements; urban and rural life; ecological change. The module closes with a consideration of conjectures on social futures in a globalising world.
The aim of this module is to provide students with a critical understanding of how the concepts of ‘self’ and ‘identity’ are continually shaped, regulated and maintained through varying aspects of identity formation, social divisions and inequalities. The module focuses on sociological approaches to exploring the ‘self’ and ‘identity’ in a social context.
Students are encouraged to develop an appreciation of the ways that identities are fluid, complex and, multifaceted. Within the teaching and learning aspects of the module, students are encouraged to consider the ways in which cultural, political, social and economic contexts impact on their own and others’ identities through mediated practices, processes and discourse.
Teaching is a combination of large lectures mixed with smaller workshops and seminars. Assessment is a mixture of coursework and exams.
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.
What our students say
"I definitely recommend this course, from the support you receive from the faculty as a whole to the friendships you build. Regardless of your background and ethnicity do this course - it will change your life""
Sarah Bristol-Abbott, Black Studies student
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.
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.
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.
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.
Welcome to the School of Social Sciences, home to students from all around the world!
All of our undergraduate and postgraduate social sciences courses are open to international students, and our courses have been tailored to take a global approach to learning. We frequently welcome international students through the Erasmus scheme, from countries including Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:
- Explore some of the good reasons why you should study here
- Find out how to improve your language skills before starting your studies
- Find all the information relevant to applicants from your country
- Learn where to find financial support for your studies
The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.
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.
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.
We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £340 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 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 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.