HIS2354 – The History of Consumption

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

The history of consumerism in the twentieth century has become a vital and vibrant area of academic research. This module offers insights into this relatively new field of work taking a broad transnational perspective. The aim is to show that the history of consumption is a promising alternative approach to the historical analysis of society. The module combines traditional political history with recent research topics, such as environment, generation and gender relations. Strong emphasis will be laid on the interaction of consumption, politics, society and economy within different European political systems. Throughout the seminars there will be made use of different kinds of primary material, ranging from more traditional written sources to visual materials such as posters and adverts.

Learning outcome

On successful completion of this course, you should be able to

  • recognize the principal developments in the history of twentieth-century European consumerism
  • identify and contextualize the main interpretative trends and problems of the period
  • undertake an advanced analysis of a wide range of primary sources
  • provide an individual synthesis based on a reading of the primary sources and secondary commentaries


In terms of more general skills, the students will be able to

  • initiate and participate in discussions of academic texts;
  • comment on and discuss remarks from other students;
  • work with others in small groups;
  • present one’s work to the class and provide feedback on other students´ work.


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 credits in humanities or social sciences.

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

Overlapping courses

10 credits overlap with HIS4354 – The History of Consumption


  • The course will be taught in twelve two-hour sessions, the classes will consist of both lectures and seminars.
  • The first week will consist of a general introduction to the theme and to the state of the research. We will critically assess theoretical frameworks for writing the history of consumption, refresh skills in analysing sources and discuss new ways of approaching written as well as sources beyond the text. Students should build on these introductory weeks in their own reading.
  • The remainder of the course will be divided into themes, each revolving around a different aspect of the history of consumption in the long 20th century.

Resources and information in this course will be given in Canvas.


Compulsory assignment:

  • Participants shall write an obligatory abstract (1.5 to 2 pages) on a topic of their choosing but within the framework of the course, to be submitted by the penultimate week of the course. If accepted – subject to possible revision – this will qualify for the final examination. More information will be given in class. The abstract has to be accepted in the semester you are handing in the term paper.
  • Obligatory participation in seminar discussions in 9 out of 12 seminars.

Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


The final examination will take the form of a term paper:

  • 4,000-5,000 words, without spacing, bibliography and references excluded.
  • Based on the abstract, students will choose their topic and research question with the help of the course leader.
  • The term paper is to be handed in Inspera.
  • 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 (HIS2354/4354)


  • The assignment should be complete with a front page containing the following information:
    • candidate number (4 digit code, not name or studentnumber)
    • course code
    • the title of the assignment
    • name of department (IAKH)
    • semester (spring/fall and year)
    • number of words

Submission of assignment:

  • The students are responsible for making sure that the documents are complete upon submitting them. The submissions will be assessed in the form by which they are uploaded by the students. Unreadable or incomplete documents are assessed as they are. 

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit assignments in Inspera.

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.

Language of examination

You may write your examination paper in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or 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.

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

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.


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

Facts about this course






Autumn 2021


Autumn 2021

Teaching language