Topics in Quantitative Economic History

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Albrecht Ritschl SAR.6.06 and Prof Christopher Minns


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Quantitative Economic History. This course is available on the 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.

The course is particularly appropriate for those students who are considering following a quantitative economic history PhD thesis in the future.


Students enrolled for this course are expected to have completed the equivalent of undergraduate courses in econometrics and intermediate economic theory.

Course content

The course is organised on a topic basis, with subjects chosen to illustrate particular theoretical, quantitative or methodological issues. Such topics could include: long run comparative economic growth; human capital issues in economic history; the macroeconomics of the inter-war years; the political economy of trade; industrial economic history; technological change; quantitative approaches to the evolution of markets; the new economic history of institutional change; analysing historical welfare issues. The aims are to: examine the techniques used by economic historians and to assess their validity and whether they help to further our understanding of the particular historical issue to which they have been applied; and to teach students how to evaluate the relevance of historical hypotheses and the historical applicability of models from economic and other social scientific theory. Students are able to investigate in detail the analysis contained in important journal articles using appropriate computer packages.


20 hours of seminars in the MT. 20 hours of seminars in the LT.

20 two-hour lectures/ seminar in the MT and LT; some of this Teaching will take the form of computing workshops.

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

Formative coursework

Three or four papers or presentations during the session

Indicative reading

M Bordo, A Taylor, J Williamson (2003), Globalization in Historical Perspective; Y S Brenner, H Kaelble & M Thomas (eds) (1991), Income Distribution in Historical Perspective; Clark, G (2007), A Farewell to Alms; R Findlay, K O'Rourke (2009), Power and Plenty; N Ferguson (2009), The Ascent of Money; M Obstfeld, A Taylor (2004), Global Capital Markets; C Feinstein, P Temin, G Toniolo (1997), The European Economy Between the Wars; B van Ark & N Crafts (eds), Quantitative Aspects of Postwar European Economic (1996).


Essay (35%, 3000 words) and presentation (15%) in the LT.
Essay (35%, 3000 words) in the ST.
Presentation (15%) in the MT.

The summative essays are expected to modify, extend or criticise existing research in the literature. The presentations will cover work other than the subject matter of the essays and will be given in class during the MT and LT.

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 2018/19: 5

Average class size 2018/19: 7

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: One 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