ENG1506 – American History and Society: An Introduction

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

This course provides an overview of American history, culture, politics, and contemporary society. It traces major developments and changes from the pre-Columbian period to the present. It will introduce you to key themes and concepts within American history and society, including: race, class, gender, ethnicity, regionalism, religion, and domestic and foreign policy. Using a question-driven approach, the course will examine key events and major changes in light of the emergence of the modern USA. You will read primary and secondary sources, which will introduce important ideas and arguments on central themes in American Studies. Topics to be covered in the first part of the course include: the contact and conflicts between North American indigenous peoples and European colonizers, the forming of the American government, regional tensions and slavery, the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution, and World War I. The second part of the course will focus on modern social and political developments. This part will cover the New Deal, World War II, the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, the Cold War, the rise of modern conservatism and contemporary politics, and recent developments in foreign policy.

The course will give you a foundation for 2000-level courses in American Studies at ILOS.

Learning outcome

After completing this course, you will be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of the critical developments in American history, culture, politics, and society
  • analyze historical documents and secondary sources
  • write an argument-driven essay that is based on strong source work
  • demonstrate skills of problem solving, conceptualization, and work independently and in groups
  • analyze ideas and arguments in appropriate academic English


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

The course assumes a good proficiency in written and oral English.


Lectures, 2 hours weekly for 14 weeks, and seminars, 2 hours weekly for 6 weeks. 40 hours in all.

Obligatory activities:

The allowed absence limit will cover all absences, including illness. You will not be granted valid absences with documentation, even when the absence is due to something beyond your control.

If the course has in-person teaching, and you are signed up for an in-person seminar group, you are to attend the teaching in the location found in the schedule.

If the course has digital teaching, and you are signed up for a digital seminar group, you must attend via Zoom with your camera on.

In certain circumstances, i.e. serious or chronic illness, you could apply for special needs accomodations.


As a student in the course, you are expected to spend at least 12 hours a week studying for this course.

In seminar weeks, 2 of those hours are spent in seminars with your seminar leader, 2 hours are spent attending lectures, and 8 hours are free for your own studies. In non-seminar weeks, 2 hours are spent attending lectures, and 10 hours are free for your own studies. You should be spending these hours reading, making notes on and reflecting on the course reading, exploring other related texts, completing the assignments given by your seminar leader, and preparing to contribute your own viewpoints and ideas in seminar discussions. You may also want to spend some of this time working on your essay writing skills and discussing the course material with other students.

The University's Academic Writing Center is a resource you may want to consider.

You are expected to come prepared to each seminar. This means that you will have completed the assigned reading and any other assignments given by your seminar leader and are ready to discuss these.


The form of assessment is a 4-hour written take-home examination.

Previously given exam assignments and assessment guidelines

Previously given exam assignments in NORAM1506 (which the course has been replaced by)

Digital home examination

The home examination is conducted in the digital examination system Inspera.You will need to familiarize yourself with the digital examination arrangements in Inspera.

 Read more about home examinations using 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

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

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.

Reports from periodic evaluations (in Norwegian)

Facts about this course






Every autumn


Every autumn

Teaching language