EH402      Half Unit
Research Design and Quantitative Methods in Economic History

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Mr Peter Sims SAR.6.07


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

Course content

This course is concerned with how economic historians have used quantitative methods and with how researchers design and structure a research project. In terms of quantitative methods the emphasis is on the applied and practical rather than the theoretical and will range from the use of simple summary descriptive statistics to multiple regression. The course will start with a consideration of broad issues in research design, this might include, for example, models, narrative and case studies. The rest of the course will then be concerned with quantitative issues, the problems of analysing and interpreting quantitative historical evidence. It will consider topics such as sampling and statistical distributions, correlation, simple and multiple regression, specification problems, hypothesis testing, logit and probit analysis, non-parametric tests, and modern time series analysis, although the content may vary slightly from year to year. The course will also provide students with training in using an econometrics software package. An important component of the course is the deconstruction of historical articles that have used quantitative techniques.


9 hours of seminars and 20 hours of computer workshops in the MT.

MT only. Three hours per week.

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

Formative coursework

Students are required to do weekly exercises and to submit one paper during the term.

Indicative reading

C H Feinstein and M Thomas, Making History Count (2002); P Hudson, History by Numbers (2002); C H Lee, The Quantitative Approach to Economic History (1977); G Hawthorn, Plausible Words (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: 28

Average class size 2017/18: 14

Controlled access 2017/18: 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

(2014/15 - 2016/17 combined)

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

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 100%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)