HIS2310 – History and the Social Sciences - a Nervous Romance? Themes and Theories of Social History since the 1960s

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

Historians have studied the past in different ways and with changing interests. They have tried to assess the importance of 'great figures' and pivotal events and traced the ordinary lives of ordinary people. They have looked for cultures and economies, experience and mentalities, emotions and ideas as key factors in human development. They have focussed on towns, regions and nations, on the West, the East and the connections between them. Historians' questions, objects of study and methods change, because they constantly debate the validity of their interpretations among themselves and take inspiration from other disciplines. This is called historiography and has, as all things human, a history.

The course is looking at social history as a particular episode in the history of historiography. This period began with many historians turning towards workers and social-economic structures and the application of models and methods derived from the social sciences. The course presents major themes, theories and debates of social history since its rise in the 1960s. To this end, it takes Geoff Eley's book A Crooked Line: From Cultural History to the History of Society (2005) – an intellectual autobiography of a former social historian turned cultural historian – as a starting point to explore the potential and problems of social history and delve into exemplary studies. The first part of the course covers the growth of social history and its subsequent critique from the 1960s into the 1980s, looking at developments in the US, Britain, Germany and Norway. The second part focusses on current research on the history of class, capitalism, consumption, culture and labour to reflect on the opportunities of present-day social history.

Learning outcome

● a critical awareness of the theories, methods and concepts utilised by historians to explain social relations and historical change

● the skills to critically research, read, discuss and write about a set of historiographical arguments and a variety of historical evidence

● knowledge about class, capitalism, consumption, culture and labour as major themes of modern social history


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.

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


Recommended previous knowledge

30 study points from either HF- or SV-faculty.

A good ability to read and understand English is required for this course.


The course will be taught in the form of twelve two hour lectures (2x45 min), and four two hour seminars.

During the course the students will write a course paper (en kvalifiseringsoppgave). A passing grade on the course paper is required to be allowed to the final exam. The length of the paper should be approximately six pages (where one page is estimated to hold 2300 characters without spacing). More information about the course paper will be announced in class.

It is expected that students attend all lectures and seminars, read the obligatory literature, and participate actively in seminar discussions and other activities.


3-days take-home examination: The students have three days to write an assignment. The length of the assignment should be 6-10 standard pages (2300 characters without spacing).The exam assignment will be published on the current semester page at 12:30 the first day of the exam. For time and date for the exam, see the semester page.

The exam is to be handed in in Canvas. The file must be submitted in .pdf-format and we stress that the student is responsible for making sure that the files are readable. If you need assistance in converting your file into .pdf, we recommend that you follow these instructions. The file must be named with your candidate number (not your name) and the course code (HIS2310).

In the process of uploading the file containing your exam, you will be asked to confirm that the work you are submitting is your own and that you are aware of the University of Oslo's policy concerning academic integrity and cheating. To qualify for uploading you must answer these questions affirmatively.

The examination of this course is integrated in the teaching of the course and it is therefore not possible to sit the examination other than by being admitted to the course.

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

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Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course






This course is offered on an irregular basis.

Teaching language