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JMU North of England Programme (NOEP)


Chester, York, and Manchester, England

Program Description

NOEP studies History and/or English in the beautiful North of England. There is one mandatory course (Hist 391), the Life, History and Culture of Northern England from the Palaeolithic to 1997 and a second elective. You may choose from Hum 250/Hist 271 which can serve as GenEd, fulfill the Classics minor's requirement or be petitioned as an IDLS course or 200 level History course, Eng 302, Literature in Northern England, which covers Medieval to Modern Literature, including Bede, William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charlotte Bronte and a host of twentieth century authors (Orwell, Holtby, Priestley, Storey, Winterson) or Hist 489, topics in Northern English History in which you can undertake research in any period of the region's history or any modern political topic. This counts as a European course for the History major.

Northern England contains some of the beautiful natural scenery in the British Isles, a cheaper cost of living and friendlier folk than the frenetic and crowded South. We consistently meet warm, interesting and funny people who live up to the high standards of English eccentricity. See the student testimonials on the NOEP website for more details. The characters, wonderful cuisine (yes, really!) and picturesque beauty rank high among the cherished memories of former NOEPi. You can travel readily to any other part of the British Isles from the North and students have visited Dublin, Liverpool, Edinburgh, the castles of North Wales and the Midlands, Lindisfarne and of course London on free weekends in 2016 alone. NOEP is a well-established programme which will undertake its fourth iteration in 2017.

Location Description

We stay in some of the most beautiful and exciting cities in the North of England. Manchester is a very lively and large post-industrial city with a wonderful energy - it reminds me of Chicago - and fantastic cultural opportunities from religion, sports and the fine arts to its famous Gay village on Canal Street. Chester, Durham and York are amongst the oldest, most historic and picturesque cities in all of the British Isles. All boast remarkable cathedrals straddling the architectural schools of Romanesque to late Gothic; Chester and York have intact medieval city walls and housed two of the three Roman legions in ancient times. They preserve much intact from all periods of their history. In addition, we visit Macclesfield's silk museum, the Bronte parsonage at Haworth, Hadrian's Wall and the glorious medieval market city of Ripon, home to the stunning remains of Fountains Abbey and a Gothic cathedral.


Stephen Chappell | | History


We use a variety of accommodation, including student dorms in Chester, Ripon and Manchester and the lovely Alcuin Lodge in York. The Alcuin Lodge is one of the highest rated bed and breakfasts in York. Locations are central, conveniently located near the UK's excellent public transport and railway systems and have internet access.

NOEPi receive a generous daily stipend of £20 for lunch and dinner including on days of group meals. Breakfasts are free with the accommodation. My pupils always return with money to spare from the allowance.

Additional Items to Consider

Most weekends are free for student travel or rest. There is a good balance between coursework and free time for those who wish to explore our remarkable host cities further.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0

Open to all majors

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($25 fee)
  • Short essay 
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU and first semester transfer students.

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 

Program Closed
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Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


HIST 391: Travel Studies Seminar: The Life, History, and Culture Northern England - Mandatory for All Students (3 credits)

HUM 250: Foundations of Western Culture: The Ancient Mediterranean (3 credits)

HIST 271: The Ancient Mediterranean (3 credits)

ENG 302: Special Topics in Literature and Language: Literature in Northern England (3 credits)

HIST 489: Selected Topics in World History: Northern English History and Politics (3 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.


Student Testimonials

Maria Matlock (2016)

The North of England Program was such a wonderful experience, and offered an in-depth, immersive experience of British culture. The courses were really interesting, especially since we were able to see most of the sites associated with what we were learning about. Along with site walks, lectures, and tours, there is plenty of time to explore at your own pace and see all the north has to offer. While there is studying to be done, the program is more concerned with experiences and cultural immersion. Some of the greatest take-aways were sitting in unique pubs with colorful names, talking to locals or with the group, exploring the ruins of Fountains Abbey, and free weekend trips to Liverpool and Edinburgh. You’ll get to see many amazing things that few people do.  I certainly had an incredible journey that I will remember. I’d highly recommend to any history major, anyone interested in British culture, or people who love to explore.

Shelby Hudson (2016)

The North of England Program was a wonderful experience. The program is filled with many tours of interesting sites, historical buildings, and museums. Along with these tours, there are of course classes involved in the trip, as it is a study abroad trip, but a large focus of these classes and the program as a whole is on experiences. Whether it was climbing Hadrian’s Wall, going to a pub called the One Eyed Rat with the group, travelling to Dublin and Edinburgh on the weekends, or attending Evensong at York Minster, I certainly had a lot of experiences that I will never forget. You don’t need to be history major to have a great time and learn a lot from NOEP. I am an Idls, Middle School Education Major and I had a great time. The trip is what you make of it, and I highly recommend anyone who is interested in history, England, or just experiencing life abroad to sign up for this program.

Kian Pritchett (2016)

The North of England Programme was an enjoyable and educational experience. I really liked how the places we visited were rich in culture and history. There is plenty of time to explore and discover a little history on your own from the people in the area. All of the museums selected for the trip are engaging and unique. My favorite was the Chester Military Museum, but there were plenty of other kinds such as the Silk Museum and multiple art galleries. The detailed lectures for the classes are well supported by the museums, and there are some lectures that happen during walks of the city walls. Also included in the trip are Fountains Abbey and Hadrian’s Wall, which really show the beauty that rural England has to offer. There are also multiple churches and cathedrals to visit, as well as pubs and shops. As for living accommodations and cuisine, look forward to excellence at the Alcuin Lodge in York and bakeries in every city and town. There is also plenty of opportunity for the occasional pint. Overall, I had a wonderful experience exploring England and learning about a country rich in history. It was clear that Dr. Chappell put time and effort into planning a well-rounded, educational, and extraordinary trip for 2016, and I am sure he will put forth the same effort in the coming years.

Cooper O'Neil (2015)

For anyone with reservations about this trip, I would seriously recommend that you sign up, especially if you've never traveled abroad before. You'll meet some lovely people, see some amazing places, and eat some delicious food. I'll stress that the idea that British food isn't good is just utterly false, especially if you like bacon. Moving on though, the free weekends also provide great opportunities to travel to major cities around the UK such as Dublin, Edinburgh, and London (I even sacrificed the better part of a day in London to go and tour the Warner Brother'sStudios Harry Potter back lot, which was fantastic). Anyway, sign up for the program! You will not regret it.

Andrew Sabo (2015)

Being a part of the North of England program this past summer was such an amazing experience. You get to learn about the history in the places that it took place, and go to museums and sites where artifacts showcasing it are held. Another amazing part about this trip is the fact that the people you go with become some what of tight knit family. I am still friends with all of the people that I went with on this trip, and we even get brunch and dinner together at least once a month. But perhaps one of the greatest parts of this trip is that you get to know Dr. Chappell on a more personal level than if you took him for a class in Harrisonburg. Now don’t think that this trip is all learning and writing papers we still managed to have a lot of fun. Whether it be in our free time in the cities we stayed in, or our weekend adventures in Dublin, Edinburgh, or London, either way it was a blast and I wish I was able to go on this trip again.

James Hays (2015)

Dr. Chappell's North of England Program is a great experience. In my time in England, amazing experiences were had exploring centuries-old sites, becoming educated (first hand) in local cultures, and absorbing the nation's long and rich history. In your time in England, you will dine on such delicacies as cheese, sausage rolls, and proper English bacon. This is especially true in the beautiful northern city of York; her streets have no want of bakeries. Bakeries where, I might add, you can easily buy a very filling lunch for less than four pounds ($6)! From the North of England Program I gained a newfound appreciation for my own country as well as for Britain, and I cannot wait to visit again some day. Go! Apply! Eat cheese! And remember: God save the Queen!

Nick Marfurt-Levy (2015)

I truly enjoyed my visit, it was all really cool. Between the people, the food, the culture, and the sights I could not have asked for a better time. The classes were straightforward and often tied to our sightseeing this brought our learning into reality. Our group was pretty small (8) and we quickly all became friends, during our one month there I got to know all of them pretty well and we still keep in touch. If you are on the fence about going, do yourself a favor and go for it. You will not regret it.

Shannon Hutchins (2015)

What a blast! Being a part of JMU’s 2015 North of England Program was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. In the four weeks that encompass the program you learn a lot, see a lot, and experience a lot. The month long crash course to English history and culture was intense and tiring at times, but in the end it was worth it. The program may seem a bit pricy on paper, but the opportunities you encounter on the program don’t happen every day. The insider exclusives you get make it worth every penny. Accommodations throughout the trip are nice and of good quality. The amount of museums, cathedrals, churches, and heritage sites are aplenty. You don’t even need to be a history buff to appreciate everything the cities and the country has to offer, but it does help!

Some of my particular favorites of the 2015 trip were the historical sites that we visited. Fountains Abbey was, and still is, the most amazing place I have ever been to. The large monastic ruin will literally render you speechless. If I ever return to England it is definitely on the list of places to revisit. Another impressive site was Hadrian’s Wall. To be honest, the wall itself is a little disappointing after seeing Fountains Abbey, but the surrounding landscape really puts everything into perspective. The rolling English countryside was a true beauty to behold. In both instances you’re not just seeing history, you’re experiencing it. Anyone can read about all the places you visit on the trip, but to actually walk those same corridors, streets, and stone walls is another matter entirely.

Another perk to the program is having free weekends. I travelled to Dublin, Edinburgh, and London, as did most of the other group members. Having that free time really allowed me to

branch out of my comfort zone and maximize my time in the UK. As a word of advice, you can systematically plan your weekends, but stuff will happen and your hard work will collapse right in front of you. For example, I had the misfortune of losing my phone while in Dublin. I got it back eventually, but it’s just one instance of where my thorough planning went to waste. Coordinating your weekend plans with fellow group members is advisable. After all, the buddy system is good to practice while abroad.

My time in England has definitely helped me grow as a student and a person. The experience alone has proved to be tremendously insightful. In the process of learning about England I learned a lot about myself. Having never left the US before, JMU’s NOEP has given me the travel bug and I hope to continue traversing the globe. The program was a truly a one of a kind experience. Being led around Northern England by a true Yorkshireman made it all the more authentic and worthwhile. If I could do the program again, I would sign up in a heartbeat! Lastly, contrary to the stereotype, it doesn't rain every day in England!

Adam Guggenberger (2014)

The North of England Program provided me with a street level experience and the beginning of a more complete view of the North of England than I could have ever hoped for had I attempted to make this trip on my own. During the day the lectures and the walks allowed me to better understand the unique story of each city's past and to recognize each city's role in the history of the North of England. At night the small and intimate nature of the cities allowed me to better understand each city’s present and to recognize the North of England’s role in the modern world.

Emerson Tedder (2014)

My experiences with the 2014 Summer Abroad program in the North of England allowed me to explore myself and history as never before. As it was my first time out of the country, it felt exhilarating to adventure directly into ancient history (from playing hide and go seek in Roman ruins dating from first century AD to walking along Hadrian's wall) while being able to literally walk through medieval history several times over (magnificent cathedrals, city walls, cobblestoned ground) to then rejoin contemporary life for a delightful dinner and late night wanderings in the refreshing Northern English air. Even the museums in England far outbested any I have been to in America- for example, the Viking museum in York had an exhibit that took us through a recreated Viking village in a moving cart on a track that resembled a slow moving indoor rollercoaster ride, complete with realistic animatrons and sound effects. Dr. Chappell has the unique experience of an NOEP instructor in that he actually comes from York itself- therefore, he had some truly wonderful connections and knowledge only a local could have, which led to meeting some interesting people with even more interesting stories (think of an elderly Mother Superior who played with the Queen as a small child and a very funny story involving the Chippendales, and you might get a small picture of what I mean.) That said, I can honestly say my experience with the North of England provided me with a greater sense of personal independence, strengthened my longing for historical understanding, and further encouraged my interest in museum studies and traveling.

Jessica McEvoy (2014)

This trip was an incredible experience. It was the first time I ever travelled abroad, but it was a spectacular and enlightening journey to another country. Being able to be in and near buildings that are centuries old is something that simply cannot be beat. The knowledge you can gain from these classes surpasses that which you learn in class (which alone is a lot of information), from the range of people and time periods that you are able to experience in a short 4 week stint.

Have fun, meet new people, absorb as much as you can, and remember to do your homework (Especially the 400 level class – don’t let the research paper sneak up on you).

Jenn Richards (2014)

The North of England Programme was a wonderful experience to cap off my undergraduate career. The opportunity to see and live in the cities of Chester, York, and Durham allowed me to experience a culture and history that I had had little interaction with and enjoyed immensely. I recommend this program to anyone who is interested in history and/or English culture.

Taren Vail (2014)

Deciding to participate in the North of England Study Abroad Program was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Studying abroad really pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me to grow as a person. This program is particularly amazing because Dr. Chappell is incredibly knowledgeable about the area and its history, but also grew up in the area and knows the ins and outs of the culture and the people. You can't beat an experience like that!

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