NORAM2580 – American Intellectual and Political History

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

The USA’s intellectual and political culture both encompasses and predates the Enlightenment, finding its inspiration both in natural rights doctrine and the in civic humanism and republicanism passed on from the Italian Renaissance through the British political inheritance. By the 19th century an American intellectual tradition developed shaped by the multiple intellectual origins of American political ideas, by romantic thought, and by the country’s post-colonial position. The result was a diverse political tradition.

The course discusses the American political tradition through the writings of the country’s greatest intellectuals, business and political leaders as they confront the various crises and opportunities that mark the unfolding of history.

The course concerns how ideas influence politics, using the USA as an example. It concerns both the national and institutional foundations for the development of political ideas, and how minor political traditions survive in the face of long odds and continue to be of influence and interest over time. Consequently this course is as much about the differences in the American political tradition as it is about its continuity.

Learning outcome

After completing this course you will have:

  • the skills to think critically about continuity and dynamism in the modern world.
  • learned to assess the scholarly literature and debates on the significance of various American political ideas.
  • developed an understanding of how to use literature and other cultural sources to reflect on politics and the political.
  • acquired an overview of some of the central ideas and issues in the American political tradition.


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 NORAM1500 – American history (discontinued)


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

Attendance on 8 out of 10 seminars is required. Additional absences must be justified by documentation to the exam coordinator.

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.


Portfolio evaluation consisting of an essay of five standard pages, and a two-hour written classroom exam.

You must submit your paper in Fronter. Read more about submission procedures

Previous exams:

Language of examination


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 is a
portfolio exam, you must follow the classes and write a new paper as well in order to qualify. Admission depends on capacity.

If it's just the class room exam you have missed because of illness, it's possible to apply for a postponed exam. Please contact the exam coordinator.

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.


Feedback from our students is essential if we are to provide the best possible education. As a student at the University of Oslo you will be asked to participate in various types of evaluation of our courses. Every time a course is given, we ask students to participate in mid-term evaluations, and periodically we ask them to participate in periodic evaluation of the course.

Reports from periodic evaluations (in Norwegian)

Facts about this course






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