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JMU North of England Programme


Chester, York, and Ripon, England

Program Description

The programme requires two classes from the list of five, one of which must be Hist 391. We will stay in Chester, Ripon and York, with lectures in the mornings and site walks or excursions in the afternoons. Weekdays are busy with classwork, but weekends are free for independent student travel. In 2014 and 2015, students visited Dublin, Edinburgh and London on successive weekends. All are readily available by aeroplane or train, as are the castles and mountainous landscape of North Wales and the beauties of the Lake District in NW England.

Read Roman inscriptions, climb Hadrian’s Wall at Housesteads, walk Medieval walls, ride through Viking Jorvik, hear Evensong in the greatest cathedral of the North (York Minster), marvel at the Georgian elegance of Fairfax House, dine in the great Mansion House of York in the specially catered group banquet, see how silk was woven in Macclesfield and view the royal trains at the National Railway Museum. Give yourself an academic and cultural education which you will remember the rest of your life. Learn why the North is so distinctive within England and enjoy the sweet and savoury glories of English bakeries.


REQUIRED: HIST 391. Travel History Seminar: Life, History, and Culture - North of England (3)


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

HIST 271. The Ancient Mediterranean (3)

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

HIST 489. Selected Topics in World History: Ancient and Medieval Britain (3)


To learn more about the program from a student perspective, see the "Student Testimonials" section below the photo gallery.

Location Description

The locations are the beautiful historic cities of York, Ripon and Chester in addition to an excursion to the dramatic medieval city of Durham and Hadrian’s Wall. These cities were amongst the greatest in the north from the Romans to the onset of the industrial revolution. York, Chester and Durham boast great churches and cathedrals, fine museums, intact Tudor and Georgian architecture and the remains of powerful fortifications. York and Chester were both Roman legionary forts, have largely intact Medieval city walls and became fashionable Georgian cities with racecourses which remain active to this day. The great crafts traditions of silver in Chester and the powerful medieval guilds of York generated the wealth that gave the cities prominence for centuries. York became a centre of railways and chocolate manufacturing in the industrial revolution without losing its great charm. Ripon is a medieval cathedral city with the stunning ruins of Fountain's Abbey nearby. The cities are located in beautiful countryside of different character: the plain of Cheshire with its picturesque villages, the Pennine mountains contrasting with the fertile Vale of York and the stark beauty of the Yorkshire dales around Ripon and Northumbrian hills on which Hadrian’s Wall stands.


Stephen Chappell | | History


In Chester, we stay at the excellent dorms of the University of Chester. Each student has an en suite private dorm room.
In Ripon, we stay at the Royal Oak Hotel in the heart of the historic city. Most rooms are shared.
In York, we stay at the Alcuin Lodge and the Hedley House Hotel. Some rooms are shared.

Breakfast included as part of accommodation and a generous stipend of twenty pounds per day for lunch and dinner (about $31 on the current exchange rate, but food is cheaper in the UK). In Chester the breakfast is continental, but proper cooked breakfasts are available with a range of other options in Ripon and York.

Additional Items to Consider

No visas or immunisations are necessary. You should bring a laptop and mobile and will need an electrical adapter for them in the UK. They cost about six pounds in Britain ($9-10).

NOEP fulfills requirements for the History and English Majors and for the Classics and History minors, possibly also Medieval/Renaissance Studies depending on the courses you pick.

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. 

apply now Closed for 2016

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


HIST 391: Travel Studies Seminar: The Life, History, and Culture Northern England from the Palaeolithic to 1997 (3 credits) - REQUIRED

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

HIST 489: Selected Topics in World History: Northern English History (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

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!

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.

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!

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.

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.