EH414      Half Unit
Theories, Paths and Patterns of Late Development

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Debin Ma SAR 612


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Political Economy of Late Development. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

The course provides basic awareness of central themes and key methodological and theoretical issues in economic history; introduces students to important analytic tools used by economic historians, with an emphasis on their practical application in economic history research; and examines major ways in which economic historians collect, analyse and interpret evidence. The training is expected to inform dissertation work. The course covers two main areas. 1) Theory and Research: this section introduces theoretical approaches to major issues in economic history, and considers the practical application in historical analysis of concepts from economics (primarily) and related disciplines. The specific topics evolve but an illustrative list includes: processes of economic growth; economic development; culture and economic behaviour; the rational-choice institutionalist paradigm; imperfect information and incentive structures; modern macro-economic ideas (especially on money and finance); welfare outcomes. 2) Historical Methodology: this section introduces methodological issues in combining social science frameworks with historical materials. It considers problems of knowledge and explanation in economic history, and introduces quantitative and qualitative approaches to obtaining, analysing and interpreting evidence. The classes to follow the lecture will focus on how economic history as a discipline that helps explain the distinct growth trajectories of 'late-developing' countries, inform modern approaches to development policy and practice, and current controversies about obstacles to development.


20 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the MT.

Two-hour lecture (that is joint with EH401) and a weekly one hour seminar in MT.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students will produce one written paper (3,000 words) and are expected to collaborate in joint presentations.

Indicative reading

Key texts: A. Gerschenkron Economic Backwardness in Historical Perspective (1962); A. Amsden Asia's Next Giant (1989) and Beyond Late Development (2003); H-J Chang (ed.) Rethinking Development Economics (2003); J. Diamond Guns, Germs and Steel: the fates of human societies (2005); S.L Engerman & K.L. Sokoloff Factor Endowments, Inequalities and Paths of Development among New World Economies (2002); C.H. Feinstein An Economic History of South Africa (2005); J. Harris, J.E. Hunter & C.M. Lewis (eds.) The New Institutional Economics and the Third World (1995); A.G. Frank Re-ORIENT: global economy in the Asian age (1997); A. Przeworski Democracy and Development: political institutions and material well-being in the world, 1950-1990 (2000); T. Roy The Economic History of India, 1857-1947 (2000); J. Stiglitz Globalization and its Discontents (2002); M.J. Todaro & S.C. Smith Economic Development (2002). D. North, Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance (1990): A. Greif, Institutions and the Path to the Modern Economy (2006); K. Pomeranz, The Great Divergence: China, Europe and the Making of the Modern World Economy (2000); R. Allen, The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective (2009); D Rodrik (Ed), In Search of Prosperity (2003); E. Helpman, The Mystery of Economic Growth (2004); T Rawski (Ed), Economics and the Historian (1996); J. Tosh, The Pursuit of History (2nd Edition, 1991); D. Little, Varieties of Social Explanation (1991).


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the LT week 0.

Teachers' comment

Survey questions on feedback to students may be non-informative because assessed work comes later in the term than the survey.

Key facts

Department: Economic History

Total students 2015/16: 18

Average class size 2015/16: 9

Controlled access 2015/16: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills

Course survey results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 88%



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