ENG4500 - British and American Political Literature in the Eighteenth Century

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

This course teaches you how to analyse and contextualise British and American political literature of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: the Age of Revolution and Enlightenment.

To a great extent, British and American political writings of this period spring out of a shared literary culture, and this course provides an opportunity to study keystones of political thinking from both sides of the Atlantic, including classic texts by John Locke, Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Edmund Burke, James Madison, and others.

While the primary texts on the syllabus will be subjected to close rhetorical analysis, they will also be situated in their immediate historical context and understood in light of their reception in subsequent political discourses. A main focus in the course is on the development of ideas pertaining to system of government.

Learning outcome

After completing this course, you:

  • have a working knowledge of eighteenth-century political history on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as of the ideological traditions and political discourses that shaped the primary texts
  • have an understanding of the development of political ideas in Britain and America over the course of the eighteenth century, with a particular focus on arguments for different forms of government


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

Students enrolled in other Master's Degree Programmes can, on application, be admitted to the course if this is cleared by their own study programme.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Seminar, two hours per week for 10 weeks, 20 hours in all.

Attendance is obligatory at least 8 out of 10 seminars. Additional absences must be justified by documentation given to the exam coordinator. Students must also submit a first draft of the paper during the semester. Feedback will be given.

You can choose your essay topic from a list provided by the teacher, or you can make your own essay topic. Individually set essay topics must, however, be approved by the teacher.



Portfolio-evaluation consisting of an essay of 7 standard pages, and a two-hour written classroom exam.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Examination support material

English-English dictionary.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

A term paper or equivalent that is passed may not be resubmitted in revised form.

If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Reports from periodic evaluations (in Norwegian)

Facts about this course






This course is offered irregularly.

Teaching language