ENG2500 – American History

Course content

You will study the topic of US history in the 20th century with focus on a particular theme or era. The course may focus more heavily on select decades—with greater focus on the post-WWII years, a heavy focus on the interwar era, or more attention paid to the early part of the century. It may also highlight race and civil rights, religion, foreign affairs and diplomacy, or a similar, overarching theme. Students will assess and analyze the major developments and the ways that American society and culture changed over the decades. The course will cover this period of profound change by examining the critical social, cultural, and political transformations that altered the nation. Major historiographical interpretations will be emphasized as well. The United States’ involvement in world affairs and the tension between international engagement and isolationism will also be stressed. Primary and secondary source readings, along with classroom activities, will help students to critically engage this key era of American development and will help them to build their interpretive skills.

Learning outcome

After completing this course, you:

  • are able to critically analyze the way in which scholars understand key issues of 20th-century US history.  
  • can critically engage with historical theories and methodologies to investigate and analyze the political, economic, and cultural struggles within the US.
  • will be able to apply knowledge and communicate informed opinions about 20th century American history, employing historical claims and arguments, and analyzing and clearly presenting arguments.
  • can demonstrate an awareness of historical and contemporary relationships and how these relations shape our perceptions.


Recommended previous knowledge

It is recommended that students take ENG1506 – American Civilization before taking this course.


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

Students will be expected to read all assignments and come ready to discuss these in class.

Obligatory activity:

  • Attendance is obligatory on 8 out of 10 seminars. Additional absences must be justified by documentation. Read more about rules concerning valid excuses and how to apply for approved absences or postponements here.
  • Five short pop quizzes will be given which will cover the specific reading of a week. Students must pass 4 of the 5 of these in order to sit the exam.
  • All obligatory attendance and assignments are only valid the semester you attend the course.
  • All obligatory activities must be approved in the same semester.


The exam consists of two parts:

  1. A term paper of approximately 5 standard pages (a standard page consists of 2,300 characters). References and bibliography comes in addition. 
  2. A 2–hour written exam.

A pass mark is required on both parts. You have to take both examination parts in the same semester. The examination parts will be graded separately with a combined final mark. The term paper counts for 60 % of the overall mark, while the written exam counts for 40 %.

Students will be assessed on their knowledge and understanding of American history in this era, their ability to analyze and critically discuss historiographical theories, and their skills of interpreting primary source evidence. Students will have the opportunity to receive formative feedback on classroom discussions, debates, and tutorial sessions.

Written examination

The written 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 written examinations using Inspera.

Submission in Inspera

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

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

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course






Every spring


Every spring

Teaching language