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Semester Programs: Britain

Narrow, winding streets. Ancient timbered houses so old they're protected by a conservation order. And no cars. This is the center of York, the host city for Calvin's semester in Britain. The city's layers of history—almost 2000 years worth—will be a constant source of intrigue as you study at York St. John University, located right in the heart of it all.

No matter what major you're pursuing—business, communication, education, English, film, history, information technology, sport and exercise or religion—you'll find classes to take at York St. John University.


You must be of sophomore status and have 2.5 GPA or higher to study in York.


The final program cost is based on many factors and is not known exactly until the number of students in the group has been identified. The financial information page covers the details that go into the cost of the program and rough estimates for each. The price for the Britain semester will include:

  • Tuition, room and board; students will receive a weekly stipend to cover all meals while in the program
  • Round-trip airfare from Grand Rapids to the program site
  • Administrative fee
  • Program excursions

Additional expenses not included in the program fee: books, insurance (required), passport, personal spending money and personal travel.

This price may change due to fluctuations in the rate of the dollar against the British pound.


You will stay in your own dorm room on the campus of York St. John University for the semester.


Each student will take four courses while in York. All students take these two courses taught by the Calvin program director(s) during the Spring 2015 semester:

STBR XX British Film, Media, and Culture

This course examines British film, media and culture by introducing students to key issues in media ownership, production, distribution, and consumption, and developing methods for analysis of film and media as products representing cultural ideals, values, and perspectives. Students will be encouraged to contextualize their own film/media experience while residing in Britain within this larger framework. The pedagogical aim of the course is to give students the conceptual tools to understand, and the practical tools to engage in and communicate about film and media in diverse contexts.

3 semester hours, Rhetoric in Culture Core
STBR 312 Life and Culture in Britain: Then and Now

This course will follow the same geographic and historical contours of the literature course--York, the 14th century, the 16th century, the 19th century, contemporary Britain—using landscapes, cities, castles, country houses, and theatres as our primary texts. We’ll take regular excursions around Britain and learn from expert guides and local historians. We’ll reflect on these questions:  how can we better understand historical and cultural change? What are the benefits of thinking about current social and cultural issues through the lens of earlier encounters with similar problems? How might we develop wise, nuanced responses to those things that may seem strange and off-putting in another culture? What do we learn about ourselves as we become immersed in other historical periods and encounter people from different cultures?

4 semester hours, Global and Historical Studies core course and CCE credit

Two more courses may be chosen from York St. John University's course (or "module") list. Choose modules available during "SEM2". One credit will be awarded for every five credits earned in a York St. John module (e.g. a 20 credit course will earn you 4 Calvin credits).

Please note: The grades from the two courses taught by the Calvin instructor will factor into your GPA. The grades for the two courses taken at YSJ will be listed on your transcript, but will not be calculated into your GPA. Grades below "C" will not be accepted for credit for the YSJ courses.

You may also want to consider taking HIST 225: The History of England, which is offered every fall semester, in order to prepare for the semester.


To apply for the program, please follow the directions to apply through our Horizons online system at this link.

Guest students may apply for this program.


Program Director, Spring 2015
2015 - Bill Romanowski, CAS
(616) 526-8527

Past and Future Program Directors
2010 - Dean Ward, English
2011 - Ken Bratt, Classics
2012 - Brian Bolt, HPERDS
2013 - Scott VanderLinde, Economics
2014 - Susan Felch, English
2015 - Bill Romanowski, CAS
2016 - Matt Lundberg


More about York

Location: York is in the middle of England, halfway between London and Scotland. A two-hour train ride will take you to either place.

Population: 191,800

History: Founded by the Romans as Eboracum in AD 71. Ruled by the Angles and conquered by Vikings before becoming a prosperous city of trade in the early middle ages.

York St. John University

Student body: 6,400 students

Academics: programs in the arts, business and communications, education and theology, and health and life sciences

Semester II dates: January 27, 2014–May 30, 2014. Exams from May 6–May 16, 2014.


The city of York is located in the middle of a larger region called Yorkshire, an area of picturesque moorlands and valleys, with dramatic limestone scenes to the north, lush, sprawling meadows to the south and coastline landscapes to the east.


The program includes excursions to historical and cultural sites in cities like London, Cambridge, Oxford, Edinburgh and Manchester.

You may also travel on your own, and may wish to do so on your 3-week-long spring break.