Making Economic History Count

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Debin Ma SAR.6.12


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

This course is very strongly recommended for all first year Economic History students.



Course content

This course provides students a brief, non-technical introduction to the quantitative methods that economic historians use to understand the past. It assumes no prior statistical knowledge or experience. It will teach students basic statistics (descriptive statistics and inferential statistics) and how to implement and visualise these statistics with Excel. These skills will be essential for the independent research projects conducted in the second and third year and are highly desired skills on the job market. In addition, it will introduce students to regression analysis and teach them to interpret regression tables. Regression analysis is a very common methodology employed in the economic history and economics literature, so understanding how to interpret regressions will allow students to engage with readings for other economics and economic history courses at a higher level. All first year Economic History students are very strongly encouraged to take this course.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT.

Some of the classes will take the form of computer based workshops.

Formative coursework

The formative coursework will consist of weekly exercises to give students practise with Excel and the methods being taught in the lecture. There will be a formative take home exam over Christmas Break (due week 2 of Lent Term) to test students' knowledge of the material.

Indicative reading

Feinstein, Charles and Mark Thomas, Making History Count: A Primer in Quantitative Methods for Historians (Cambridge, 2002).

Hudson, Pat and Mina Ishizu, History by Numbers (London, 2016).


There is no summative assessment for this course.

Key facts

Department: Economic History

Total students 2016/17: Unavailable

Average class size 2016/17: Unavailable

Capped 2016/17: No

Value: Non-credit bearing

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills