EH464      Half Unit
The Historical Context of Business

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Mr Peter Sims


This course is available on the CEMS Exchange, MBA Exchange, MRes/PhD in Quantitative Economic History, MSc in Accounting, Organisations and Institutions, MSc in Economic History, MSc in Economic History (Research) and MSc in Global Economic History (Erasmus Mundus). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


There are no prerequisites, but an interest in business and economic development are advantageous.

Course content

This course explores the evolution and variation of the conditions under which business has operated in different parts of the world. It concentrates on but is not exclusively concerned with the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It is not an "MBA" course, in that it does not look at the specific decisions of specific firms, but rather looks at the environments in which industries have operated in different periods and places in history.


2 hours of lectures, 8 hours of lectures and 8 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 expected to produce one essay during the term and to sit a mock examination paper over the Christmas vacation.

Indicative reading

Readings include, S Broadberry, Productivity Race; Y Cassis, Big business: European Perspective; J Kay, Foundations of Corporate Success; N Lamoreaux & D Raff (Eds), Co-ordination and Information; M G Blackford, The Rise of Modern Business in GB, US and Japan; R Reich The Work of Nations; O Williamson 'The Modern Corporation: Origins, evolution, attributes' Journal of Economic Literature 1981; Porter, M The Competitive Advantage of Nations, Harvard Business Review 1990, CK Harley 'Substitution for prerequisites: endogenous institutions and comparative economic history' in R Sylla and G Toniolo Patterns of European Industrialisation: the nineteenth century.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer 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: 9

Average class size 2017/18: 4

Controlled access 2017/18: Yes

Lecture capture used 2017/18: Yes (LT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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