Area Studies: Frequently asked questions

What is Area Studies?

‘Area Studies’ is the term used to describe the multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary study of specific geographical areas of the world. This includes subjects like American Studies, Middle East Studies and European Studies. The disciplinary identity of area studies has been the subject of much debate at events such as our Disciplinary Identity of Area Studies workshop in 2004 and The Future of Interdisciplinary Area Studies (pdf), hosted by the University of Oxford in 2005.

What resources are available for promoting area studies in schools?

LLAS has developed ‘Why Study Languages?’ and ‘Discover American Studies’ for promoting the study of Area Studies and languages and in schools. The resources can be used on school visits and open days. If you wish, you can adapt them to promote the specific programmes and opportunities offered by your own institution. The older area studies e-pack is still available on the LLAS website.

I work in a geography/ history/ politics etc. department, but teach on an area studies programme. How can I be involved with LLAS?

You are very welcome to join our mailing lists, attend workshops and conferences, apply for funding from us (when available) and join in all other LLAS activities.

I am interested in the topic of one of LLAS’ Area Studies workshops, but I don’t see myself as an area studies person. Am I welcome to attend?

As the label ‘area studies’ is not widely used, it is quite common for people to feel that the event is aimed at other people. Lots of people are not quite sure whether what they do is Area Studies, but everybody is made welcome.

Can LLAS fund my project?

From time to time we offer funding for pedagogic research projects, action research or the development of teaching materials. To avoid missing out on these opportunities, please sign up for our monthly e-bulletin.

I do research in Area Studies, but I don’t teach Area Studies. How can I be involved in LLAS?

You are very welcome to attend any of our area studies events and join our mailing lists. Sometimes we work alongside other Subject Centres and other organisations with area studies interests to organise conferences and other activities. Some of these activities address research issues as well as teaching.

Where can I find the Area Studies benchmarking statement?

The 2008 Area Studies benchmarking statement is now available from the QAA website.

Is there a subject association for Area Studies?

The UK Council for Area Studies Associations (UKCASA) was founded in 2003. The Council is made up of 19 associations whose members have research and teaching specialisms in different parts of the world.

What resources does LLAS have on its website about Area Studies?

There are thousands of resources on our website. Many resources developed for languages are useful for area studies too. If you are new to area studies, you may find the following resources particularly useful:

Where can I find more discussions about the theory and practice of Area Studies?

 The following list, though not extensive, gives a flavour of recent work engaging with the idea of ‘area studies’.

  • Canning, J. (2005) Disciplinarity: A barrier to Quality Assurance? The UK experience of area studies, Quality in Higher Education 11 (1), pp.37-46
  • Chapman, G. (2007) -graphy: the Remains of a British Discipline, Journal of Geography in Higher Education 31, pp. 353-379
  • Gibson-Graham, J. K. (2004) Area studies after poststructuralism, Environment and Planning, A 36, pp. 405-419
  • Horschelmann, K. & Stenning, A. (2008) Ethnographies of postsocialist change. Progress in Human Geography 32(3), pp. 339-361
  • Ludden, D. (2000) Area Studies in the Age of Globalization. Frontiers: the Journal of Study Abroad 6. Available from
  • Phipps, A. (2004) Area Studies. In Coleman, J. and Klapper, J. (eds.) Effective Learning and Teaching in Modern Languages. London: Routledge/ Falmer.
  • Schwartz, B. (1980) Presidential Address: Area Studies as a Critical Discipline. Journal of Asian Studies, 11 (1), pp. 15-25
  • Terlouw, K., 2004, Area Studies at Utrecht University: A Regional Geographical Approach, Journal of Contemporary European Studies 12 (3), pp. 355-365

Who do I contact with further questions about area studies?

Please contact John Canning, Academic Coordinator for Area Studies at the Subject Centre.