Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

The belief that the United States is unique and uniquely blessed – a land of freedom that all other countries seek to emulate -- is central to popular constructions of American nationality. This ideology, known as American Exceptionalism, is essential for understanding American history, politics, and foreign policy. Communities demand that American History teachers and textbooks support this ideology wholeheartedly and without question. Politicians who question this belief in the slightest put their careers at risk. Despite the popularity of Exceptionalism, there are many challenges to the ideology.

This course will study the origins, practices, and results of the ideology of American Exceptionalism. We will consider both aspects that support the notion and aspects that challenge it. The class will examine several distinct aspects/events of American history from this perspective. We will look at how popular culture supports this ideology. We will examine debates over history curriculum for different educational levels and discuss the goals that affect the teaching of national history to various age/grade levels.

Learning outcome

After completing this course, you:

  • understand the theoretical concept of American Exceptionalism,
  • can analyze how Americans learn about the place of the United States within the world,
  • can analyze popular culture forms and public history exhibits in light of exceptionalism,
  • can analyze movie versions of history, that use exceptionalism,
  • understand American educational and political debates and policies regarding patriotism and the teaching of American History,
  • can analyze how identity politics (race, gender…) fits into and challenges the belief in American Exceptionalism,
  • can demonstrate abilities in reading, writing and communicating in academic English, using appropriate tools for documenting your work ethically,
  • can demonstrate analytical abilities in constructing a text in 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

It is recommended that you have attended ENG1506 – American Civilization or similar courses.

Overlapping courses

10 credits overlap with ENG4533 – American Exceptionalism


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

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.
  • There will be two obligatory classroom group activities. Read more about guidelines for obligatory activities.
  • All obligatory activities must be approved in the same semester.


The exam consists of two parts:

  1. A term paper of approximately 7 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 %.

Assessment guidelines (term paper)

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.

Examination support material

You are allowed to use an English–English dictionary on the classroom exam.

Macmillan Dictionary will be offered in the digital examination system Inspera.

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

For those who want to retake their exam: Since this exam includes a term paper, you must follow the classes and write a new paper in order to qualify. Admission depends on capacity.

If it's just the written exam you have missed because of illness, it is possible to apply for a postponed exam. Please contact the exam consultant for more information.

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






Spring 2019

This course is offered irregularly


Spring 2019

This course is offered irregularly

Teaching language