EH401      Half Unit
Historical Analysis of Economic Change

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Debin Ma SAR 612


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Economic History, MSc in Economic History (Research) and MSc in Quantitative Economic History. This course is available on the MPhil/PhD in Economic History. This course is not available as an outside option.

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.


20 hours of lectures and 9 hours of seminars in the MT. 1 hour of lectures in the ST.

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

Formative coursework

Students are required to make one class presentation and also to submit one paper on an additional topic during the term.

Indicative reading

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 January exam period.

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 2017/18: 67

Average class size 2017/18: 13

Controlled access 2017/18: Yes

Lecture capture used 2017/18: Yes (MT)

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

(2014/15 - 2016/17 combined)

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

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 80%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)