Not available in 2013/14
The Origins of the World Economy, 1450 - 1750

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Oliver Volckart C215


This course is available on the BSc in Economic History, BSc in Economic History with Economics, BSc in Economics and Economic History and BSc in Economics with Economic History. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.

Course content

The course examines economic and social development in Western and Eastern Europe and Asia from the late Middle Ages to the mid-18th century. Its purpose is to discuss comparatively the sources of long-term economic development and growth in the past. The course surveys issues, theories and historiography; economic development in premodern western Europe, population; agriculture; industry and protoindustry; urbanization; market integration and trade; technology; state structure, policy and political economy; taxation; technology, causes and consequences of west European overseas expansion; the emergence and nature of a 'world economy'. Comparison with east-central Europe, Mong-Ching China, and Tokugawa Japan.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of lectures and 1 hour of classes in the ST.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to write three essays or equivalent pieces of written work. A full list of lectures and seminar papers is distributed at the beginning of the course.

Indicative reading

Detailed reading lists are distributed at the beginning of the course. The principal text is SR Epstein, Freedom and Growth. The Rise of States and Markets in Europe, 1300-1750 (2000); The following are useful general works: D C North & R P Thomas, The Rise of the Western World (1973); E L Jones, The European Miracle (3rd edn, 2003); E L Jones, Growth Recurring, Economic Change in World History (2nd edn, 2000); J De Vries, The Economy of Europe in an Age of Crisis, 1600-1750 (1976); K Pomeranz, The Great Divergence. China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy (2000).


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: Economic History

Total students 2012/13: 1

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information