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Economic history


Economic and social history is concerned with understanding the process of change in the past.

It uses the skills of the economist, the statistician and the sociologist, as well as those of the historian. Typical issues which the subject addresses are: economic globalisation in a historical perspective, the effect of business organisation on economic performance, the economic and social effects of wars, the importance of education and human capital in economic change, change in social behaviour in the past, the history of economic development in the third world, and the causes of population change and migration.

Our graduates can be found in senior positions throughout the professions, the City, business, the civil service and government.

Features of LSE courses

Our Department, which has 17 full-time teachers, as well as shorter term teaching and research staff, is the largest in the country in this subject area. Our courses cover all the main approaches to the subject.

Within the degrees students may choose between economic courses, quantitative and non-quantitative courses, as well as from a range of geographical areas and time periods.

If you are looking for a more structured degree with less choice you should consider the joint degree with economics.

You will gain a range of research skills including numeracy, the ability to evaluate and analyse data, and to present an argument orally or on paper. These skills are highly valued by most employers.

Degree structure

You may take a degree in economic history at LSE in a number of ways: in a single honours degree, in a joint honours degree with economics, or as a major subject with a minor in economics. You may also take economic history as a minor subject with economics as a major (see Economics|).

All degrees involve studying 12 courses over the three years, plus LSE100.

Teaching and assessment

You will have 8 to 10 hours of timetabled classes per week. As well as lectures, all courses are taught in small weekly discussion groups led by a member of staff. You will usually have to present about four papers or essays for each course, as well as making class presentations. You will have an academic adviser who will advise on course choices, offer general guidance and assistance with both academic and personal concerns and help with your project.

The 10,000 word research project is counted as one course out of the eight in the second and third years. Our compulsory second year course has a 3,000 word project as part of the final assessment, worth 30 per cent of the final mark. All other courses are assessed by means of formal three hour examinations.

Preliminary reading

If you wish to gain further insight into the subject we suggest that you look at one or more of the following books:

  • J Diamond Guns, Germs and Steel: the fates of human societies (Norton, 1997)
  • R Floud Land of Hope and Glory: the people and the British economy, 1830-1914 (Oxford University Press, 1997)
  • E L Jones Growth Recurring: economic change in world history (Clarendon Press, 1988)
  • A L Kenwood and A Lougheed The Growth of the International Economy, 1820-1990 (Allen & Unwin, 1992)