This course is replaced by ENG4541 – Cities and American Life.

NORAM4515 – Cities and American Life

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Choose semester

Course content

Key words –capitalism, public culture, consumerism, image, form, urbanism, urbanization, modernism, American thought, suburbanization, cultural representation, urban planning, environment.

The city is universal – a development of civilization – combining administrative, economic and symbolic functions. But cities and urban networks are also particular to different societies. A premise of this course is that much can be said about a culture in terms of how its cities are understood, designed, planned and experienced.

Our approach is both historical and contemporary, providing an introduction to the city in general and a consideration of the importance of cities in a variety of American social, cultural and political contexts as well as in relation to America’s idea of itself. We will look into the city as a spatial system – urbanism – and the city as a form of modernization – urbanization.  We will ask – what are cities? How did they develop historically? What is the relation between city, society and state? What has been the basis for urban design? What do cities or aspects of urbanism symbolize? What values and ideas do cities promote? What forms of society and public life do cities engender? How do cities present and frame the problems and possibilities of environment?

At the center of our inquiry will be the question of how and why earlier urban forms have failed to sustain themselves in North America. We will consider whether this means the ‘end of the city’ or the creation of new urban forms.

Learning outcome

After completing this course, you:

  • know how to read the social world through geography, i.e. through spatial development;
  • know how to think across boundaries and to creatively ask questions;
  • know how to apply a conceptual framework to reading a book on your own and to your term paper.


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.

The minimum number of attendants for the course is 3, the maximum 15


Recommended previous knowledge

NORAM1500 – American history (discontinued) would be extremely helpful.
The course does not presuppose any knowledge on the part of the student, but interested students are advised to take courses in fields such as, human geography, environmental studies and film studies.


Seminar, two hour per week, for 14 weeks, 28 hours in all.

You must prepare an oral report on assigned material in order to qualify for writing the term paper. Read more about guidelines for compulsory activities.

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 exam consists of a term paper of approximately ten pages.

You must submit your final paper in Fronter within a certain date. Read more about submission procedures.

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

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.

A term paper that has recieved a pass grade, cannot be submitted later in a revised version.

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






Autumn 2015


Autumn 2015

Teaching language