Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

This course focuses on contemporary national politics, including ideological conflicts and political ideas within the institutional framework and practices of the American system, including – the federal structure, the presidency, election procedures, political parties, Congress and the courts..

The course is topical in character, but regardless of the specific topic, broader institutional patterns as well as moments of fracture, dislocation and change will be considered. Explanatory paradigms include the role of ideas and ideologies, the influences of the media sphere, changing or clashing definitions of American identity(ies), the politics of symbolism, as well as the impact of  geographical divergence (regionalism), social change and economic stress.

Course topic for the autumn semester 2020: Defining America in an Age of Political Polarization


Learning outcome

After completing this course, you:

  • have insight into the institutional arrangements of the American political system;
  • can analyze the content of contemporary American ideologies;
  • can identify the changing character of media coverage;
  • can analyze politics from the standpoints of ideology and policy.


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 taken ENG1506 – American Civilization or similar courses – or to acquire such knowledge during the course of the semester through background reading. The course assumes good reading and writing skills in English.

Overlapping courses


Seminars, 2 hours per week for 10 weeks. 20 hours in all.

Obligatory activities:

  • Students will prepare three mini-essays of 2 pages each for a total of 6 pages. Submission of these essays are required to sit the exam. Students choose three weekly topics on which to write these essays. Topic questions for these topics are provided in the syllabus. One mini-essay is due at mid-term and the final two mini-essays are due at the end of the teaching semester. Read more about rules concerning valid excuses and how to apply for approved postponements here.
  • For autumn 2020, attendance is not required, but highly recommended.

All obligatory activities must be approved for you to sit the exam. All obligatory activities must be approved in the same semester. Approved obligatory activities are only valid the semester you attend the course.


The form of assessment is a term paper of 10 standard pages (a standard page consists of 2,300 characters). References and bibliography comes in addition.

You choose the topic of the term paper from a list provided by the lecturer.

The term paper should demonstrate an understanding of the relation between the specific issue discussed in the paper and one or more of the course's themes (synthesis). It should consider opposing perspectives on the issue. Ideally, analysis of both the emotional force and strategic significance of the issue should be considered.

Previous exams and assessment guidelines

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

Students are allowed to use an English-English dictionary during the written examination.

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 the form of assessment in this course is a term paper, you must follow the seminars 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

A term paper or equivalent that is passed may not be resubmitted in revised form.

If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline, 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 2020


Autumn 2020

Teaching language