American Studies A

30 credits

Syllabus, Bachelor's level, 5EN741

Education cycle
First cycle
Grading system
Fail (U), Pass (G), Pass with distinction (VG)
Finalised by
The Department Board, 14 September 2021
Responsible department
Department of English

Entry requirements

General entry requirements and English 6

Learning outcomes

Upon completing the course students will have obtained a basic knowledge of central aspects of United States culture and society; have greater insights into American history, politics, race relations, and media cultures; have enhanced their understanding of the complexity and diversity of U.S. society. Students will also have developed their proficiencies in both speaking and writing in English about the United States. Finally, the course will provide a first introduction to relevant literature and other material for students' own searches for knowledge and will train their critical capacity to use such material.

The goals for each course component are given below.

Component 1. Introduction to American History (7.5 credits)

Upon completing the component students will

  • be able to account for important aspects of U.S. history;
  • be able to account for the social forces that have helped shape U.S. society;
  • be able to show basic knowledge of what is regarded to make the United States unique, both historically and at present;
  • be able to demonstrate some understanding of the analysis of historical texts.

Component 2. Introduction to American Politics (7.5 credits)

Upon completing the component students will

  • be able to account for the basic features of the political system in the United States;
  • be able to demonstrate insights into basic issues in American politics;
  • show ability to identify of some of the problems and challenges facing U.S. politics.

Component 3. Race and Ethnicity in the United States (7.5 credits)

Upon completing the component students will

  • be able to account for the historical developments regarding race and ethnicity in the United States;
  • be able to show good familiarity with the relation between various minority groups and the U.S. majority population;
  • be able to account for how race and ethnicity have helped shape American identities and U.S. society.

Component 4. American Media Cultures, (7.5 credits)

Upon completing the component students will

  • be able to account for how contemporary U.S. media cultures have developed historically, and what factors and interests have contributed to shaping them;
  • show insight into how Americans' media usage relates to various social and political contexts;
  • show ability to analyse the role of various examples and forms of media in contemporary U.S. society.


The course comprises four course components, each worth 7.5 credits. Instruction, class discussions, and examinations in all components are in English. Special emphasis is placed on the written assignments in the components. All teaching materials are in English.

Component 1. Introduction to American History

Component 1 provides an overview of historical developments in the area that today constitutes the United States. Chronologically the emphasis is on colonial times to the present. Aspects related to social, political, cultural and diversity dimensions of American history are central.

Component 2. Introduction to American Politics

Component 2 provides an overview of the basic features of the U.S. political system. Special attention is paid to the U.S. Constitution, the role of the courts, demographic changes, the impact of the media on politics, and the voter participation in political life.

Component 3. Race and Ethnicity in the United States

Component 3 examines how race and ethnicity have affected U.S. society in historical and contemporary perspectives. Focus is placed on the relations between various minority groups and the U.S. majority population. The component address issues such as slavery and its long-term consequences, immigration and ethnic minorities, political aspects of race and ethnicity, and what it means to be an American.

Component 4, American Media Cultures

Component 4 examines the development of media in the United States in historical and contemporary perspectives. It takes its point of departure in a broad definition of media, that encompasses, for example, TV, film, news media, popular culture, and social media. Focus is placed on questions of how American media cultures have changed over time and how they have related to different political, social, and economic contexts.


Teaching is done through lectures and seminars. Virtual meetings may occur. Active participation in course seminars is obligatory. In cases of absence students will be given the opportunity to complete an extra assignment within the framework of the course period. English is the language of instruction.


Examination is done through spoken as well as written assignments and by continuous assessment. Grades used are either Fail, Pass, or Pass with Distinction.

To receive a grade of Pass with Distinction for the whole course, students must have achieved the grade of Pass with Distinction on examinations worth a total of at least 22.5 credits.

Students who do not achieve a passing grade on the regular examination will have another opportunity to take the examination within a reasonable period of time after the regular examination.

Students who fail a certain examination twice have the right upon request, following consultation with the head of department, to have another examiner appointed.

If there are special reasons for doing so, an examiner may make an exception from the method of assessment indicated and allow a student to be assessed by another method. An example of special reasons might be a certificate regarding special pedagogical support from the University's disability coordinator.

Other directives

Results that are more than five years old are normally not recognised if the syllabus for the course component has been changed.

If the syllabus or course reading for a component has been changed, students have a right to be examined under the original syllabus and course reading on three occasions during the following three terms. Normally this right then expires. Otherwise there are no limitations on the number of examination opportunities.

The course may not be included in a degree if equivalent parts have been read within another course included in the degree.

Transitional provisions

For transitional regulations in the case of changes in the syllabus, please contact the student adviser.