Monetary and Financial History

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Natacha Postel-Vinay SAR.6.13


This course is available on the MSc in Economic History, MSc in Economic History (Research), MSc in Global Economic History (Erasmus Mundus) and MSc in Political Economy of Late Development. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


There are no specific pre-requisites for this course. Nevertheless, some preliminary background in introductory macroeconomics and introductory statistics could be useful. 

Course content

Where does money come from? How did financial markets first develop and integrate? What has been the impact of financial markets on economic development, growth, and business cycle fluctuations? When did financial crises first arise, and how did they develop in the twentieth century, up to the subprime and Euro crises of 2008-2015? This course offers an opportunity to delve into these questions and analyse the evolution of the role of money in Western economies over centuries, from the Middle Ages to the 2000s.

The first part of the course will allow students to acquire a broad overview of the origins of financial markets from 800 to the eve of World War 1. It will explore the creation of mints and central banks, the role of finance in processes of long-run growth such as the Industrial Revolution, how financial bubbles and banking panics first arose, and how financial markets integrated in the 19C with the Gold Standard. The second part of the course will start with a focus on the financial turmoil of the Great Depression, looking at the mechanisms leading to hyperinflation, bank failures, debt crises and capital flight on both sides of the Atlantic. It will then move on to analysing the evolution of financial institutions under Bretton Woods, sovereign debt crises, the 1990s bubbles, and the Great Recession in the US and in the Euro area. In the end, students will have a firm grasp of the evolution of financial markets over centuries up until now. 


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

There will be a Reading Week in Week 6 of MT and LT, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to write two essays or equivalent pieces of written work.

Indicative reading

Aliber, R., & Kindleberger, Charles P. (2015). Manias, panics and crashes : A history of financial crises (Seventh ed.). Palgrave.

Eichengreen, B. (2015). Hall of mirrors: The Great Depression, the great recession, and the uses-and misuses-of history. New York: Oxford University Press. 

Ferguson, N. (2009). The ascent of money : A financial history of the world. London: Penguin.

Rajan, R. (2011). Fault lines : How hidden fractures still threaten the world economy (1st pbk. ed.). Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Gorton, G. (2012). Misunderstanding financial crises : Why we don't see them coming. New York: Oxford University Press.


Essay (50%, 5000 words) in the MT.
Essay (50%, 5000 words) in the LT.

Key facts

Department: Economic History

Total students 2018/19: 53

Average class size 2018/19: 17

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