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School of Social Sciences

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BAEcon Economics
Learn how the social sciences can help you to understand today's world.

BAEcon Economics / Course details

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Topics in Economic History

Unit code ECON30511
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Social Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No


See course Blackboard pages.


Students must have already taken at least one of the following combinations to take this unit (compulsory Pre-Requisite):

  • (ECON10041 AND ECON10042) or
  • (ECON10081 AND ECON10082)

AND they also must have taken at least one of the following (compulsory Pre-Requisite):

  • ECON10072 or
  • SOST10062 or
  • ECON10132 or
  • ECON20292


The unit aims to:

  1. Provide an intermediate-level exposure to modern research in economic history, with a focus on comparative and quantitative aspects.
  2. Enhance student’s understanding of how economics can be applied to explain or help to understand past events, many of which still affect us today.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding: 

We will cover the economic (and when relevant, political) development of different societies in the past, with a focus on Europe but a comparative (and quantitative) dimension also present whenever possible.


Intellectual skills: 

Students will apply economic analysis to understand the past. But they will also realise how the past can itself be informative about economics as a discipline. By studying the economic aspects of past in a rigorous manner, students will develop a deeper understanding of not just history, but also the present. It will become clear to them which features of the modern world are recent, and which have been always with us. These skills will prepare them for a range of careers requiring knowledge of economic analysis and historical change, such as business administration or policy advising.


Practical skills: 

Students will continue to develop their ability to read economic literature, including research articles; they will have to produce a sustained and coherent written argument; and they will engage in classroom discussion in the form of a weekly debate which contrasts two different interpretations about one particular historical episode (e.g. the Industrial Revolution).


Transferable skills and personal qualities:  

Students will develop presentation and interpersonal skills through participation in tutorial sessions.


Topic 1: Europe from obscurity to economic recovery (1 lecture).

Topic 2: Population - From Malthus to the demographic transition (1 lecture).

Topic 3: Preindustrial Economic Growth (1 lecture).

Topic 4: Institutions and Growth (1 lecture).

Topic 5: Knowledge, technological transfer, and convergence (1 lecture).

Topic 6: Money, credit, and banking (1 lecture).

Topic 7: Trade, tariffs, and international money regimes (1 lecture).

Topic 8: Towards the welfare state (1 lecture).

Topic 9: Inequality among and within nations (1 lecture).

Topic 10: Globalization and its challenge to Europe (1 lecture).

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures and tutorial classes.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Problem solving

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 80%
Written assignment (inc essay) 20%

Feedback methods

  • Tutorial feedback.
  • Office hours.
  • Revision sessions.

Recommended reading

It would be advisable if students read in advance:

  • Robert Allen, Global Economic History: A Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2011.

The textbook for this course is:

  • Karl G. Persson and Paul Sharp, An Economic History of Europe. Cambridge University Press, 2015.

In addition, students will be given two weekly research articles for the classroom discussion.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1.5
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 168.5

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