ENG4550 – Theory and Method in American and British Studies

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

In this course we study the theory and methods used within American and British studies. The course is designed to provide master students with the theoretical and methodological basis they need for, both deciding on the project for their master thesis, and for carrying out their research. It has three main components, addressing the twin pillars of area studies: history and contemporary society.

The first part of the course looks at the central theoretical questions raised within history as an academic discipline, how the discipline has developed over time, as well as the historical method, while the second part addresses the historical development of American Studies. A main concern in our approach to American Studies is to look at the central themes of contention which have marked the discipline. In the third part we focus on British Studies with a main emphasis on the development of British Cultural Studies (in the post-war period), and the state of British Studies today.

A central theme throughout the course is to compare and contrast the study of the United States with that of the United Kingdom.

Learning outcome

Upon completion of the course, you:

  • can identify the central theoretical questions raised within history as an academic discipline, and the development of the discipline over time,
  • know the historical method,
  • can analyse the theory and methods used by historians working within different historical traditions,
  • know the development of American Studies over time, and the central themes of contention within the discipline,
  • know the development of British Cultural Studies in the post war period, and British Studies today,
  • can analyse central research questions in the study of the USA and the UK.


This course is only available for students admitted to the program European Languages: study option "English Literature, American and British Studies" or the LeP- programme.

Overlapping courses

10 credits overlap with NORAM4550 – Theory and Method in North-American-studies (continued)


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

Obligatory activity:

  • Since classes will be held digitally, there will be a combination of regular zoom meetings and asynchronous discussions. Students must participate in both. This will involve raising questions from the readings and responding to others’ question posts.
  • Drafts for the assignments in the portfolio are due by stated deadlines. Students will critique others’ drafts of the first two essays, both in writing and orally.
  • 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 attendance and assignments are only valid the semester you attend the course.

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 form of assessment is a portfolio consisting of 3–4 assignments. Total of 15 pages, +/– 10 %.

Assessment guidelines

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

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

You must do all obligatory activities, including attendance, in this course again if you want to qualify to re-take the exam. Admission depends on capacity.

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.

Reports from periodic evaluations (in Norwegian)

Facts about this course






Every autumn


Every autumn

Teaching language